Strict action against unauthorised sand extraction – Chamal
By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake
The Ministry of Irrigation will, with the new Bill being drafted, be empowered to take strict action against unauthorised individuals extracting sand, Minister Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday (20).
The Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said this in response to Opposition Parliamentarian Thushara Indunil Amarasena when the latter questioned Rajapaksa concerning the unauthorised cultivation taking place in lands belonging to reserves which are under the purview of the Ministry and of sand extraction rackets taking place at Deduru Oya.
“We have already taken swift measures against the unauthorised cultivations. Presently, the law is not strong enough to take certain legal measures against unauthorised sand extraction. So we are presently drafting a Bill that we hope to present to the Parliament soon, which will give the necessary legal capacity for the Irrigation Department to take action against sand extraction rackets. Other than that, a committee consisting of members from the Irrigation Department and the Central Environmental Authority is now monitoring the process of giving approval to extract sand,” Rajapaksa added.
He also said that under the purview of the Irrigation Ministry, there are 75 large scale tanks, 160 medium scale tanks, 113 anicuts, five large irrigation schemes, a 19,265 kilometres long canal system, and 9,352 irrigation canals.