Apr 18, 2020

Politician illegally acquiring forest land Featured

The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) has sent a letter to the President requesting that the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) be identified as essential services in order to stop poaching and destruction of ecosystems by organized groups during curfew.

The letter points out the destruction of Bambaragaswewa forest reserve in Gomarankadawala, Trincomalee, destruction of the Andamkulama tank forest reserve in Trincomalee, destruction of plain lands in the Piduruthalagala forest reserve in Mandaramunuwara, hunting of animals in the Lunugamvehera National Park, shooting down an elephant at Kalawewa National Park and setting fire to forest reserves.

Kataragama politician illegally acquiring forest land

Meanwhile, residents in the area say that an organized group is taking advantage of the existing curfew and illegally acquiring the forest land of Kandasuridugama Grama Niladhari Division bordering on Yala National Park of Kataragama Divisional Secretariat

Residents of the area say that the reserves belong to the DWC and that there are a large number of elephants and wildlife inhabiting the land.

It is said that this land acquisition is being carried out by organized by groups with the intervention of a local politician in Kataragama.

Residents say that they had previously been involved in a number of racketeering activities where they illegally acquired land which were wildlife habitats and sold them to residents and businessmen in other areas.

Residents of the area say that the government officials who inspected the land of Yala National Park in front of the Kataragama Gam Udawa area were able to identify that the area has been cleared illegally and established fences.

A group of more than 15 persons have taken measures to illegally acquire more than 75 acres of land from Weherakema to Sellakataragama an area which is located one and half kilometers along the Galahitiya Road, Kandasuridugama, Kataragama.

It is learned that they are already occupying the land with agricultural equipment and have commenced constructions on temporary tents and concrete pillars.

Speaking to the media the OIC of the Kataragama Special Task Force Camp M Palliyaguru said,"we are not able to act on this land acquisition case. We can intervene if the request is made by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. We can also arrest and hand over the culprits to the police."

It is reported that OIC of Kataragama Police, S U Liyanagama has deployed police teams to take immediate action regarding this incident.