Minister plunders forest for votes

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By 2017-07-18

By Mirudhula Thambiah

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian Charles Nirmalanathan has regretted that a minister was destroying the flora and fauna in the Mullaitivu district to make new settlements in order to strengthen his vote bank.

He was speaking during a mass protest in Mullaitivu against the setting up of new settlements by destroying the forest cover in the region.

The protest drew in large crowds from Jaffna as well who joined hands with the civilians in Mullaitivu against the ongoing deforestation to make way for fresh settlements.

MP Nirmalanathan said: "There are a multitude of allegations against this minister in regard to the deforestation activities in Mullaitivu and so far the District Secretary, Forest Department and police have refrained from taking any legal action against this deforestation.

If an individual fells a tree in his/her own premises the matter will be instantly notified to the local Grama Sevaka and the police would also file action.

However when around 300 acres of forest cover is been destroyed in Mullaitivu none of the relevant authorities are ready to take any action.

When we questioned the District Secretary about this activity she said she was unaware.

The deforestation first began in Kulamurippu in the Mullaitivu District. According to Forest Department statistics, around 300 acres of forest lands have been destroyed in the Mullaitivu region. In the initial stages when we agitated against the deforestation activities, Mullaitivu District Secretary Rupavathy Ketheeswaran released a statement claiming that she was unaware about the issue.

However these 300 acres are within 7 kilometres from the Mullaitivu District Secretariat. The District Secretary has not taken any legal action in this regard even today. At the last Mullaitivu District Coordinating Committee meeting held early this month, I questioned the District Secretary regarding the action she had taken regarding the deforestation activities taking place in the Mullaitivu District. I also questioned her to why has she distributed houses to those who already own houses in Mullaitivu.

These questions were posed at the District Secretary however Minister Rishad Bathiudeen opted to reply. He said there are limitations for the District Secretary to take action regarding certain issues.

Therefore it is quite transparent that the Mullaitivu District Secretary is partial in the deforestation issue and therefore she has refrained from taking any legal action against the culprits", MP Nirmalanathan said.

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