Outcry over move to revoke circular on other forest lands

Outcry over move to revoke circular on other forest lands

Outcry over move to revoke circular on other forest lands

Written by Staff Writer

05 Jul, 2020 | 9:59 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Attempts to abolish a circular limiting arbitrary allocation of other forest lands has stirred up public outcry with environmentalists leading the campaign.

According to circular 5/2001, any allocation of other forest lands for development activities require the approval of a special review board.

Forest lands that have not been protected under a parliamentary act are classified as other forest lands.

If the circular is revoked, district secretaries and divisional secretaries will be empowered to make decisions regarding these other forests.

“They have prepared to hand over these lands to five multinational companies,” Ven. Pahiyangala Anandasagara Thero, the President of the Surakimu Sri Lanka movement said.

He claimed that the government is planning to hand over 500,000 acres of other forest lands to multinational companies by abolishing the gazette.

Other environmentalists claim the move is linked to the proposed US Millenium Challenge Corporation agreement, and debt obtained from China.

“They are preparing to commercialize these lands by opening them up to the market,” Sajeewa Chamikara, an environmentalist said.

He pointed out that the problems faced by people over the lack of clean water would aggravate along with the problems faced due to wild elephants in villages.

The government has been criticized over the move, after Bandula Gunawardana, a cabinet spokesman said the lands would be brought under divisional secretaries based on several complaints.

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