Environmentalists and lawyers criticized Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera for the recent resignation of Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya from the post of the Director General of Wildlife.

Attorney-at-Law Jagath Gunawardena said that Perera should stop attempting to micromanage affairs of the Ministry and the Department.

Dr. Pilapitiya resigned because he took the responsibility for Warden of the Yala National Park, Suranga Ratnayake being verbally abused by Perera, he added.

It has been reliably learned that on a previous occasion, Minister of Housing and Construction Sajith Premadasa had attempted to enter the Yala National Park earlier than the prescribed time and when Ratnayake had pointed it out to Premadasa that such should not be done, Premadasa had complained to Perera about the matter.

Perera has a responsibility to protect the officers under him who are doing their duty even if the Prime Minister were to make an unreasonable request (such as the one Premadasa had made), he added.

“Perera cannot evade responsibility for the events that have unfolded. Ratnayake is an experienced officer trained in the law, both the procedural aspects and the substantive aspects. The Minister does not know the law and he is issuing directives. It is also absurd for Perera to say that the Wildlife officers need to lodge a complaint in the Police when in fact the offence of poaching investigated by the Wildlife Conservation officers is a non-bailable, cognizable one for which they know how to prepare a B report and produce such before a Magistrate. They do not need to go to the Police,” Gunawardena noted.