Chief Incumbent of the Nakolagane Rajamaha Viharaya Walathwawe RahulaThera refuted claims made by villagers that 500 acres of land has been leased out to two companies for the purpose of starting sandalwood and mango plantations. “I have only proposed it and currently quantifying the temple land,” the Thera said adding that no formalities regarding such a transaction have been made despite various claims to the effect.
Saying he is not free to do as he pleases, the Thera said he has sought guidance and assistance from the Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs regarding the matter. “It is under his guidance I am now quantifying the temple land” the priest said adding that he has even received a letter from the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddha Sasana & Religious Affairs commending his development project proposal.
The proposal made by RahulaThera calls for land of the temple to be identified and be given on a 30-year lease to those who are currently in occupation while also giving 500 Acres of land on a similar basis to two companies for plantation purposes.
However the villagers are against such a proposal claiming that lease of the land bordering the Palukadalwa reservoir will be detrimental to the farmers and lessen the capacity of the tank. “This will also increase the human elephant conflict in the area” a villager said. According to Center of Conservation and Research around 300 elephants roam in the area.
When asked, the Thera rubbished such claims saying those who are protesting are afraid they will have to pay what is due for the use of temple land. He also said there aren’t a large number of elephants in the area. (Read the full report on the issue in pages 8 and 9 of INSIGHT)