Trench to be dug around Udawalawe National Park
By Thameenah Razeek
A trench is to be dug around the Udawalawe National Park to prevent elephants from leaving the forest areas.
However, work will commence only after an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is carried out, State Minister for Wildlife Protection, Adoption of Safety Measures Including the Construction of Electrical Fences, Trenches, Reforestation and Forest Resource Development, Wimalaweera Dissanayake confirmed. He said this was another technique to prevent animal movement and to protect them.
When queried as to who was in charge of digging the trench, he said the Ministry will initiate the project out of Ministry funds.
Concerns were raised regarding the digging of the trench because it was being carried out in a sensitive wildlife zone.
In response to this development, Dr. Jagath Gunawardena, Chairman of the National Environment Council, said any development activities within one mile of the boundary of a national park must be subject to an EIA or an Initial Environmental Examination Report. He said the Director General of Wildlife should take the final decision on the Reports.
“Because there was no public notice or public comment for such a development, it appears that the provisions of Section 9(A) of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance are being violated by the Ministry in approving the project,” he said.
He said the Department of Wildlife Conservation, which comes under his purview could not allow third parties to remove gravel or soil from such areas because gravel and soil are minerals and come under the Mines and Minerals Act. Any removal, transport, or sale of gravel and soil should be done in accordance with permits issued by the Geological Survey Mines Bureau (GSMB), he added.