Environment Ministry to probe Wilpattu issue
May 9, 2015 05:01 pm
The Presidential Secretariat has instructed the Secretary of the Environment Ministry to inquire into the alleged forest clearing and constructions in Wilpattu, the Government Information Department said.
Certain groups and media have alleged that the Wilpattu sanctuary is currently being rapidly cleared for the construction of houses by Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and that the deforestation is a threat to the wildlife, including animals facing extinction.
However, the Minister of Industry and Commerce had rejected the allegations leveled against him and vowed to quit if they are proven.
Addressing a press briefing on Thursday (7), he charged that as apparent vilification campaign is taking shape in certain media segments targeting him that, among others, alleged that Muslim IDP resettlements led by him are damaging the Wilpattu Forest Reserve in Northern Province.
“During the past few weeks, some television and the news media have negatively reported on continued and illegal Muslim resettlements in the Marichchikatti Grama Seva division which is outside the Wilpattu National Park.
“One privately owned media channel, during the last seven days, alleged that I have been destroying the Wilpattu jungle areas and also mentioned that I have been working to create an exclusive Zone to settle Pakistani nationalities and people from other Districts in this zone. These are campaigns of vilification,” said Bathiudeen.
The Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment comes under the direct purview of President Maithripala Sirisena.
Meanwhile a group of representatives from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) today visited Mannar to look into whether any illegal resettlements are taking place near the Wilpattu National Park.