Jun 20, 2018

Mass forest destruction at H'tota elephant reserve

A massive forest destruction is taking place in about 10,000 acres in the proposed Hambantota elephant management reserve, said prominent environmentalist - Sajeewa Chamikara.

He said that around 2000 acres have been cleared between the Andara wewa and Pahala Andara wewa in the upper Hamuduruwewa area under the Sooriyawewa Divisional Secretariat, and a large scale banana cultivation has commenced.

It is revealed that this banana cultivation is being done by eight persons with powerful backing of two prominent ministers.

He also alleged that another 600 acres of forest has been completely cleared by four foreign companies for the construction of solar power plants in the Tissapura, Buruthakanda area. In the Walsapugala, Divulpelessa area another 300 acres has also been cleared.

Chamikara further revealed that another 6000 acres in the Keliyapura, Gonnoruwa, Ketanwewa, Pahala Andarawewa and Kuda Idiwewa areas has been cleared by the Mahaweli Authority and given to various parties as commercial properties.

In addition, he charged that another 1,500 acres belonging to the elephant management reserve in the Udamalala area covering the Lolugaswekada, Metiganwewa, Palengiwewa, Ling wewa, Swarnamali wewa and Maiyan wewa areas is scheduled to be handed over to a Chinese company to set up an oil refinery.

Due to this land racket, during the past two years alone 18 elephants and nine people had lost their lives.

He further revealed that due to this forest destruction, the 300 hectare Karambagasmulla medicinal plant forest close to the Madunagala reserve is facing a great threat.

Chamikara further noted that in addition to the massive scale forest destruction, there are smaller scale forest destruction of 30-40 acres happening in the area as well.