Written by Bella Dalima
28 Aug, 2014 | 7:56 pm
A group of monks attached to an organisation called the Ampara District Chief Incumbents Organisation, convened a media briefing on Wednesday and raised questions over an Action TV Expose that was aired on August 18.
The Action TV Expose was on the felling of a Kumbuk Tree located in the Kotavehera Grama Niladhari jurisdiction in Ampara on August 12 and the bundling of timber that was later taken over by the Department of Forest Conservation.
Action TV also exposed a letter dated August 7 related to the felling of this Kumbuk Tree in question, sent to the Grama Niladhari Officer of Kotavehera by the Divisional Secretariat of Ampara.
The Ampara Divisional Secretary has attempted to mislead the Grama Seva officer, by noting that copies of the letter have been addressed to the State Timber Corporation, the Ampara District Forest Officer and the Superintendent of Police in Ampara.
However, it was when Action TV inquired over the matter on f August 15, that the respective officials came to be aware of the existence of such a letter. In this letter , the Divisional Secretary has said that the timber of the felled Kumbuk Tree is required for a construction adjacent to the Divisional Secretariat.
However, at that time no such construction had taken place in the vicinity.
The felling of a tree in state property and bundling it up for timber is a task solely vested with the State Timber Corporation. However, according to this letter, the bundled timber was to be transported to a private timber mill.
What is most surprising is that this mill is a paddy ,ill.
When the Raids Unit of the State Timber Corporation seized the timber, it was revealed that one of the two individuals who were bundling the timber was in fact an individual from Iniyagala who is out on bail and have been allegedly linked to a number of timber racketing charges.
The timber of this Kumbuk tree on question was handed over to the State Timber Corporation on August 15, and the values have been estimated at Rs.700,000.
On August 18 the Department of Irrigations filed a complaint with the police, based on the revelation made by Action TV citing that as the Kumbuk Tree belongs to them, an investigation need to be conducted on the felling of the tree which was done without the consent of the Department of Irrigation.
Subsequent to the media briefing , the group of monks handed over a letter to the Divisional Secretary condemning the Action TV report.
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