Yala forest cleared to build hotel
By D.N. Jayasekera -- Mattala
Residents living close to the Yala National Park charged a wealthy hotelier from the Tissamaharama area had begun to clear the forest cover of the famed National Park to construct a cabana hotel, at a time when wildlife officers prohibit farmers from even entering the forest area.
These residents alleged the hotelier had started to clear an area which had been demarcated as an important forest reservation to build his cabana hotel, disregarding all regulations. They further stated when wildlife officers arrest either farmers or residents for even stepping into the forest reservation area it is shocking to find them allowing the influential hotelier to clear 40 acres of the said area to construct his hotel within the National Park. They said close to the proposed construction site, a large river bund had also been constructed by the businessman, with the intention of saving rain water.
Several residents alleged that wildlife officers had probably been bribed by the hotelier concerned in allowing him to build his cabana within the forest reservation area while they are extra quick to prosecute innocent farmers for even stepping into the area.They also alleged that several large trees had also been uprooted by this businessman enabling him to build his cabana within the Yala National Park with wildlife officers being oblivious to the untold damage caused to the reservation by the hotelier.