Forest officials visit Lakshapathi contestant

Forest officials visit Lakshapathi contestant over Sinharaja issue

by Staff Writer 16-03-2021 | 9:13 PM
COLOMBO (News1st): Forest department officials visited the Sirasa Lakshapathi programme contestant who raised concerns on environmental destruction at the Sinharaja forest and its surrounding area. "If it is taking place in Sinharaja, you should be able to identify the exact location. You must also be aware of its boundaries. You must learn the relevant details," a forest department official said. The contestant pointed out that her family members had felt intimidated after the police visited her to record a statement, within 24 hours after the programme was aired on Sirasa TV. "People who wish to speak against this will be reluctant to do so in future," the contestant, Bhagya Abeyrathna, noted. She cautioned that the Sinharaja forest would lose its world heritage status if environmental destruction continues to take place in the area. "I feel threatened. I'm only 19 years old. Therefore, I'm a sensitive child. However, I don't think that I will stop voicing my concerns regardless of whether this is stopped or not," the girl said. Sampath Wanigasekara, the Additional Divisional Forest Officer of Ratnapura, said that forest department officials had visited the area to verify the location. "We had given the telephone number to the child and asked her to inform us if anything new transpires," he said. Environmental lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said that an environmental impact assessment report is required if trees are being cut down on a private property larger than 1 hectare. "If that land is located within a sensitive ecological system, an environmental impact assessment has to be carried out regardless of its size," Gunawardena noted.