Govt trying to undermine authority of Forest Dept – Sajith
By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, in Parliament yesterday (19), alleged the Government was attempting to undermine the authority of the Forest Department for lands known as ‘other State forests’, and bringing it under Government Agents and Divisional Secretaries by cancelling Circular 5/2001.
Raising a question under Standing Orders 27/2, Premadasa pointed out that these State forests have sensitive ecosystems and biologically valuable forests. “Furthermore, rivers and streams are historical and archaeological sites could be seen in other State forests. Therefore, it is extremely important to protect these forests. Otherwise, our future generations will have to suffer. Now the Government wants to cancel Circular 5/2001. This decision will affect valuable ecosystems, plant species and wildlife. When taking such decisions, the Government should be very careful,” the Opposition Leader said.
Premadasa then queried from the Government whether they accept the importance of other State forests. “Also, we want to know whether the Government is ready to appoint an expert committee to look further into the matter and whether it would suspend Circular MWFC1/2020 which brought the other State forests under the Government Agents and Divisional Secretaries until the recommendations of this committee is received.”
In response, Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation C.B. Ratnayake said that he would provide answers to these questions after gathering more information about the matter.