The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) demanded that the government refrain from breaking the fence put up to protect humans from elephants and vice versa in the area near the Hakwatuna reservoir, Polpithigama, Kurunegala, and Kahalla, Pallella, and the Irudeniyaya highland janapadaya village settlements.
The All Ceylon Peasants Federation (ACPF) had lodged a petition at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) in relation to this.
JVP North Western Provincial Councilor and the National Organizer of the ACPF, Namal Karunaratne said that the government was intending to establish a tourism project near the said reservoir for the purposes of showing foreigners elephants.
He added that, 14 schools, 21 temples, 83 various societies, 35 other organizations and civil actors under the banner ‘Organization for the Protection of Farm/Agriculture Lands in Hakwatunawa’ were against the move.
“Our proposal is that the ancient tanks in the forest be reconstructed and trees and vegetation be grown in the forest to provide food for the elephants, as at present the trees available such as teak and turpentine are not used as food sources by the elephants,” he noted.
“Above the Hakwatuna reservoir in the Kahalla, Pallella area, where there is about 960 acres, there are about 400 to 500 elephants according to Wildlife Conservation census statistics. The janapadaya where people live is below this. Separating the forest and the villages is a 42 kilometre (km) electric fence,” he said.
“They want to remove a portion of the fence and bring it below further, closer to the communal settlement, 30 km below, rounding out the reservoir.
This will allow elephants to come. In this 300 acre area, there are two villages and two Main Roads, the Rambemessepola Main Road and the Kattamberiya Polpithiyaya main road,” Karunaratne added. (RLJ)