Rehabilitation work begins at Illuppankulam

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By Thameenah Razeek

The Ministry of Environment has started rehabilitating 25 acres of illegally mined and destroyed land in Illuppankulam, Trincomalee.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has directed the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) to immediately rehabilitate abandoned quarries after excavating soil, rock and sand, and to submit a report on the matter.

According to GSMB, approximately 950 sites have yet to be excavated and rehabilitated. Hence the Ministry of Environment has launched a special environmental conservation programme titled ‘Mihikatha Kandemu’ in Illuppankulam where rehabilitation work in the entire area has already begun.

“In the past, no rehabilitation work had been carried out in this area. There are numerous such locations in our country. Some excavations are so deep and frightening to look at. These locations are a threat and could even result in potential fatalities. According to news reports, an elderly mother had died recently, after falling into an abandoned mine. GSMB has launched a programme to restore all such sites. As per records, from 2012 to 2021, 2491 excavation sites had been rehabilitated under the permits issued by the Bureau,” he said.

He also claimed that, despite continuous excavations and soil removal, the relevant licensee had failed to rehabilitate this 25-acre site. He pointed out that no permits would be issued to those who fail to rehabilitate the sites as agreed.

“The other thing is that these sites provide no economic benefit to the country. Therefore, we intend to use them to help those in the vicinity to sustain their livelihood. There are currently no trees at the Illuppankulam excavation site. Hence, it would be transformed into a public-space for tree planting,” the Minister quipped.