Written by Tharushan Fernando
11 Nov, 2016 | 8:57 pm
During the past two years, the president has on several occasions, made strong commitments to protect the environment.
However, as more issues arose and as officials responsible for the conservation of the environment failed to grasp the core of the president’s stance , the president recently noted that those involved in forest clearing and dredging for sand-mining must seek his consent,in addition to obtaining permission from the relevant government institutions.
Yet, if officials and institutions that must take action against illegal sand-mining are not doing so on the basis of personal benefits or close relationships, it is not practical to impose the ‘mandatory’ clause in the President’s statement.
The primary example for this is the destruction being caused in Deegawapiya.
In December last year, this sacred ground of Deegawapiya looked like an island due to the illegal sand mining that took place on the banks of the Gal Oya River.
This also resulted in the irrigation ways made for water to flow for many legal paddy fields in the area, to break away.
Around 500 acres of paddy land in the Nayanakdu area were inundated as a result, at a time when the harvest was just about to be reaped.
The method undertaken to provide compensation was strongly criticised by the locals.
Even after this disaster had taken place, rather than putting a stop to the illegal mining on the banks of the river and repairing the damaged banks of the river , the irrigation officials are making many visits to the Deegavapiya Temple in order to seek permission that would also see the Deegavapiya Sacred grounds also being flooded.
The Chief Incumbent of the Temple refuses to respond positively to their request which aims to expand the anicut on the road leading to the temple.The motive of the irrigation officials is to divert all excess water on illegal paddy fields in the area on to the Deegavapiya Sacred Grounds.
What is notable is that a parliamentarian from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is accompanying this group of irrigation officials for this project.However, what needs to be done is not lower this anicut, but to put a stop to all the illegal paddy cultivation that are taking place damaging the banks of the river.
It is indeed astounding that the irrigation officials do not understand this. In some locations what can be seen are weirs and sand mounds instead of the natural river banks.A similar destruction is also taking place in the vicinity of the Thimbirigolla Forest Reserve in Bakmitiyawa.
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