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Wilpattu Deforestation and settlement: CA re-fixes argument on 8 February


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By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday (10) fixed for argument on 8 February next year the Writ Petition filed as public interest litigation on the alleged deforestation and illegal construction of housing project in the Northern Sanctuary of Wilpattu National Park.

The Bench comprised Justices L.T.B. Dehideniya (President/CA) and A.L.S. Gooneratne.

The Writ petition was filed by Centre for Environmental Justice (Guarantee) Ltd. citing the Conservator General, Central Environmental Authority, Director General of Wild Life Department, Commissioner General of Lands, Commissioner General of Archeological Department, Mannar District Secretary, former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and others as Respondents.

Ravindranath Dabare with Nilmal Wickramasinghe appeared for the Petitioner. Faisz Musthapha PC with Basheer Ahmed and N.M. Riyaz appeared for the Minister. State Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe appeared for the Attorney General.

The petition was filed as a public interest litigation on the alleged deforestation and illegal construction of housing project in the Northern Sanctuary of Wilpattu National Park as well as forest complex of Madu, Periyamadu and Sannara areas.

Petitioner is seeking the Court to take action against the removal of forest cover and reinstate the forest lands to forest reserve and organise forest replanting program.

It states a vast area of 2,000 hectares in the forest complex adjoining Wilpattu National Park and 1,000 hectares in Madu, Periyamadu and Sannara area have been cleared, divided into plots, paved roads and unauthorised settlement established making irreparable damage to the whole environment and eco-system and wildlife habitats.

It further states 1,500 families have been illegally settled in the cleared area and the former Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen has been involved in mobilising deforestation and establishing settlement under the pretext of resettlement of internally displaced people.

It laments the clearance of the reserves and sanctuaries and construction of housing project in contravention of Act and regulations is unauthorised, unlawful and illegal and punishable offence.


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