CA to hear Wanniyala Aththo’s petition over handing land for maize cultivation on February 6
The Court of Appeal decided yesterday (8) to take up for hearing on February 6, the writ petition submitted by Uruvarige Wanniyala Aththo and others against the decision taken to clear the forests belonging to their traditional homelands in Mahiyanganaya, Rambaken Oya and Polbedda areas and hand them over to private companies.
When this petition was taken up for hearing before the Appeal Court bench consisting of Justices Sobitha Rajakaruna and Dhammika Ganepola, the state counsel who representing the Attorney General requested that this petition be summoned on another day.
The Bench considered the matter and decided to hear this petition on September 8. The parties were directed to confirm the facts on that day. The Center for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director Hemantha Sisira Kumara are the other petitioners.
The Central Environment Authority, its Director General Hemantha Jayasinghe, Mahaweli Development Authority, its Director General B.A.Sunil S. Perera, Department of Forest Conservation, Director General of Forest Conservation, Department of Wildlife, its Director General, the Attorney General and a number of others have been named as the respondents.
It is mentioned in the petition that the indigenous people of this country use the forest near Polbadda Rambaken Oya for their livelihood. The petition has indicated that more than five thousand acres of land in the forest around Rambaken Oya will be handed over to the Mahaweli Development Authority and given to private companies for maize cultivation. It is also stated in the petition that clearing the forest and providing it illegally on a large scale is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act and the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. The petition has pointed out further that the clearing of elephant pathways is also being done in this activity and that there is a risk of the elephants attacking the villages due to the obstacles to their movement.
It has also been mentioned that the canals supplying water to Rambaken Oya will be blocked and filled up to prepare for the cultivation of maize.The petition also states that no environmental assessment report has been obtained for this project.
The indigenous leader said that due to this project, there will be a lot of environmental damage as well as hindrances to the daily life of the villagers. It is also mentioned in the petition that this will cause great damage to the traditional way of life of the Vedda people.Therefore, the petition has also requested that an interim injunction be issued to prevent this illegal activity. The petition has also requested to order the Central Environment Authority to obtain an environmental assessment report regarding this project. Attorney Dr. Ravindranath Dabare appeared on behalf of this petition filed by attorney Nilmal Wickremasinghe.
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