Colombo's departments abet large-scale deforestation and hunting in Mannaar

[TamilNet, Friday, 06 September 2019, 15:19 GMT]
Widespread logging of forest trees, large-scale alienation of forest lands and hunting of spotted and sambur deers, as well as local buffaloes, continue unabated amidst persistent ignorance and possible collusion with the SL Forest and Wildlife Conservation Departments as well as the SL Police. Local Councillor Kandiah Soundararajan, who is elected from Vaddk-ka'ndal in Maanthai West Divisional Council (Piratheasa-chapai/PS), has exposed the extent of the destruction when contacted by TamilNet this week. In the meantime, the law enforcement authorities of the unitary state mechanism in Colombo are systematically depriving the resettled poverty-stricken and landless Tamils. It is the local population, which constitutes a nature-loving-society with excellent human-environment relationships, as history has witnessed in the past, Tamil activists in Mannaar observed.

At least 200 acres of lands have been illegally encroached by political influential and wealthy people who are not from the villages of the Council.

The local villagers are wrongly influenced by external exploiters to hunt the animals and to log the trees for outside consumption.

The local Council is controlled by the ruling coalition partner All Ceylon Makkal Congress, which is led by Rishad Bathiudeen, a controversial politician who hails from the district.

The complaining councillor, Mr Soundararajan, is also from the same coalition but belongs to the UNP.

The chairman of the Divisional Council was advising against intervening in the affairs of the unitary mechanism in Colombo, Soundarajan says. Such intervention must come from the Divisional Secretaries was the opinion of the chairman of the Council.

While the SL departments refuse the Tamils to gain lands, others with political influence are allowed to encroach up to 40 acres of lands per encroachers in some cases, the councillor says.

Around ten animals are slain daily. There are about 30 shot-gun operators who enter the thick forest with a bottle of water every day. The animals suffering from the drought come to drink the water which is poured into the trap. When the animals reach the water source, they get shot.

The SL Police and the CID are saying that they would only act against AK-47 carrying persons, not against those having the shot-guns.

The meat of the hunted animals is taken into ice-lorries, which are intended to transport the fish catch to Negombo.

The trees being logged are also sold locally as well as being transported to the South.

Out of the areas coming under the five elected local councils in Mannaar, the largest extent of lands is located in the Maanthai West Divisional Council (PS). It comprises of two administrative Divisional Secretariat (DS) divisions (Manthai West DS and Madu DS).

Approximately 75% of the lands under this Divisional Council are forest lands. The remaining is mostly agricultural and residential lands.

The reported exploitations are widespread in the villages of Pa'ndi-virichchaan, Thadcha'naa-madu, Periya-madu, Parappuk-kadanthaan, Vidaththal-theevu, Paappaa-moaddai and Kuruvil-vaan.

The local councillor represents Vaddak-ka'ndal area (vaddaaram) where the dense forest of Parappuk-kadanthaan is located.

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