2ND LEAD (Adds voice interviews)

SL Forest Department retains 8,034 hectares of pasturelands in Paduvaan-karai, Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Friday, 09 August 2019, 14:28 GMT]
Eight thousand and thirty-four hectares of grass plain in Paduvaan-karai region of Batticaloa district was tentatively traced in a map to demarcate the area as pastureland in 1976 by the SL Survey Department. However, the process didn't complete into accurate demarcation, said Rajbabu Suntharamoorthy, the divisional secretary of Koa'ra'laip-pattu South (Kiraan). The SL Forest Department retains the area as belonging to Thopik-kal (Thoppigala) thick forest. The incumbent Government Agent has taken necessary steps to get the pastureland secured as demanded by the farmers, the Divisional Secretary maintained. TamilNet contacted the DS on Friday following the report on Thursday that more than one thousand cows had died since January as the SL authorities were dragging their feet concerning the allocation of the pasturelands and access to the drinking water reservoir to the cattle.

The DS said there was no official data regarding the loss of livestock in his division. He blamed the farmers for not registering their animals.

To the question on the status of permanently demarcating the pastureland, Mr Rajbabu said the Government Agent was waiting for the response from the committee with the SL Forest Department tasked with the responsibility of freeing lands.

Even if the farmers want to set up a temporary drinking water arrangement, they must seek permission from the SL Forest Department until the matter of pastureland is permanently resolved, he said.

The entire extent of pastureland in question comes within the borders of the Batticaloa district, according to the tracing map done by the SL Survey Department in 1976, he confirmed.

It is the unitary state system which determines the affairs through its ministries.

Nimalan Kanthasamy, the secretary of Dairy Farmers Association in Kiraan and Chengka'ladi, responding to the explanations by the Divisional Secretary, blamed the SL State agencies for not communicating with each other.

The SL Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH) is having the responsibility for veterinary divisions in the district. The dairy farmers have registered their cattle with that department, as required, Mr Nimalan Kanthasamy told TamilNet. The veterinary office has not handed over the registrations to the DS office, he said.

Elaborating further the difference between the LTTE times and after, he said various SL State agencies have taken over lands for agriculture after 2009. As the agricultural land use increased and trees were logged on a massive scale after the times of the LTTE, the water was diverted to agrarian use. Due to environmental changes, the drought has become a significant problem now, he said. At the same time, the number of cattle has also increased.

The DS has not even managed to put up a proper road, Nimalan blamed further. There is no point in responding to useless explanations coming from the divisional secretary, he said implying that the agencies coming under the unitary system were ‘intended’ to operate that way.



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