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Environmentalists threatened to take legal action against the Government if it failed to take measures to control and halt the continuing destruction of forests in the Northern and Eastern Provinces for purposes of resettlement, new settlements, encroachment and timber rackets.

Environmentalists, the Presidential Secretariat personnel, officials of the Department of Forest Conservation and the Department of Wildlife Conservation are conducting discussions in this regard at present.

The Environment Conservation Trust explained that thus far 3,400 acres of forest cover had been cleared and new settlements erected in Wilpattu, in the forest reserves in Wilpattu North including in the zones of Maraichukkaddi/Karadikkuli, Vilathikulam and Mawillu.

Other forest reserves include Karunkalipuram, Puwarasankulam, Kulamarippu, Nagancholai, Irasenthiramkulam, the Madu Road. He said 17,800 acres have been cleared illegally to make way for new settlements in Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya where post-war, which were and are spreading.

Director of the Trust, Sajeeva Chamikara pointed out that in the case of forest clearance in Wilpattu, though the amount of human settlements and occupations were less, three times the land cleared for human settlements had been cleared including for purposes of land grabbing and timber racketeering.

Meanwhile, President Maithripala Sirisena’s directive to expand the borders of the Wilpattu National Park has yet to be implemented in the declared areas including the sanctuaries and zones.

RLJ