Will release animals to the ministry if land circular is revoked; poll candidate warns

Will release animals to the ministry if land circular is revoked; poll candidate warns

Will release animals to the ministry if land circular is revoked; poll candidate warns

Written by Staff Writer

07 Jul, 2020 | 9:47 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): A parliamentary election candidate has warned he would release several animals to the environment ministry if a circular protecting other forest lands is revoked.

“They are going to destroy the environment…to handover them to multinational companies in a discreet manner,” Senajith Bandara Hunukumbura, an independent candidate said.

He arrived at the ministry with several animals on Tuesday, but was instructed to leave them outside, before he went in to meet the environment secretary.

Hunukumbura echoed calls of environmentalists who are urging against revoking the circular, citing it as a move to give them to multinational companies.

The government last week announced its intentions to revoke circular 5/2001 and bring other forest lands under district and divisional secretaries to give them for chena cultivation.

However, Sajeewa Chamikara, an environmentalist claimed that revoking the gazette would facilitate attempts to give 62,500 acres of land in Monaragala to a Singaporean company named Gazelle Ventures Ltd.

“A major portion of this land comprises lands that have been granted for Chena cultivation,” Chamikara pointed out.

A member of a youth movement, however, said revoking the circular is linked to the US Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement.

“Thousands of acres of lands will be sold to multinational companies under the MCC pact,” Lahiru Weerasekara, a member of the Youth For Change Movement said.

He added the government can do more than abolishing a circular to support Chena farmers.

However, environment minister S.M. Chandrasena, said the move would promote agriculture on other forest lands, and lands that fall under the forest department and wildlife department.

He said that the cabinet had made this decision to use barren land and those which lack vegetation for cultivation activities.

“The cabinet has advised me to prepare a good plan on a scientific basis to avoid using these lands for unnecessary purposes,” Chandrasena noted.

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