State lands: Squatters shouldn’t get documents – Withanage
By Eunice Ruth
The Government should not issue legal documents to those who have occupied or developed State lands without any documents, said the Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), Hemantha Withanage.
When contacted yesterday (15), he said, according to the Gazette which was released on 10 September, the public are requested to apply for legal documents for their unauthorised lands before 30 September through the Divisional Secretariats, after which the applicants will receive the legal documents for the lands within a few days.
He said with regard to this, a committee should be appointed to conduct a proper investigation on the lands and the investigation process should be conducted for at least a year and not just 20 days. If the decision was taken by the Divisional Secretariat, then surely it will be a politically biased decision and not a fair decision which is made after an investigation, he added.
He also claimed 40 acres of land was destroyed by a dozer at the Thanamalvila-Bodagama Udawalawe National Park border by a doctor and the latter had broken an electric fence, built by Wildlife Conservation Officers, to manage the human-elephant conflict. He said these lands, occupied by the public, have high biological diversity and are elephant corridors and habitats for other animals. “If they legalise these lands for present occupants or users, the habitats of animals will be destroyed and the public and authorities will face greater impacts than expected,” he added.