Reckless felling of coconut trees: Strict laws will be enforced next week
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Strict laws are to be introduced next week against wonton chopping down of coconut trees, Secretary to State Ministry for Coconut, Kithul and Palmyrah Cultivation Promotion, Tissa Hewavithana said.
When contacted regarding an Extraordinary Gazette Notification prohibiting the felling of coconut trees without permission, Hewavithana said, authorising officers will include the Grama Niladari, if it was just three to four trees.
However, approval would have to be taken from the Divisional Secretary, Coconut Development Officer and Regional Manager - Coconut Development if a large number of coconut palms are to be felled, he said.
Giving an insight into the gazette that was currently with the Legal Draftsman, he said that concessions would be given to felling old trees (60 to 70 years for example) if the tree or trees in the land posed a danger to the house depending on proximity or if there was no option but to chop down the tree in order to construct a house or building.
The State Ministry Secretary noted that this was mainly aimed at stopping people from cutting down coconut trees and preventing the gradual depletion of coconut palms which he noted had contributed to the present crisis surrounding coconuts.
Hewavithana observed, this was separate from the laws applied to large coconut lands which are also being torn down to be portioned and sold. This gazette is to be issued by the Ministry of Plantation, while the State Ministry is collaborating in the process.