Court verdict on Wilpattu deforestation in April

The Court of Appeal is to deliver the verdict on the case filed on unauthorized construction in the Wilpattu National Park against former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and others on 3 April

The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) filed a writ petition seeking an order to quash the clearing of the Wilpattu National Park forest reserve and construction of a housing project adjoining the National Park.

The Writ Petition names Conservator General of the Forest Conservation Department, Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Director General of Wildlife Department, Commissioner General of Lands, Commissioner General of Archeological Department, Mannar District Secretary, former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Environment and Mahaweli Development and the Attorney General as respondents.

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

The CEJ says around 2,000 hectares in the forest complex adjoining Wilpattu National Park and 1,000 hectares in Madu, Periyamadu and Sannara area have been cleared making irreparable damage to the whole environment and wildlife habitats.

It further states 1,500 families have been illegally settled in the cleared area, adding that 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 (IDP). (Colombo Gazette)