Hotline for public complaints | Sunday Observer
Environment destruction

Hotline for public complaints

21 February, 2021

The public could now reach out to the hotline 1997 to lodge complaints regarding environment destruction that includes the illegal felling of trees, sand mining and deforestation.

The police launched the hotline following an increase in the number of cases that have been reported across the country.

The news comes amid a historic Court of Appeal decision to consider a writ petition filed by the leader of the indigenous population Uruwarige Wannila Aththo and three others who sought an interim order to invalidate the acquisition of around 4,000 acres of their ancestral land in the Rambakan Oya Forest by the Mahaweli Development Authority. The Court of Appeal decision was announced on Friday (19). The land was acquired by the Mahaweli Authority to be given to several private companies for agricultural and livestock development projects. The petitioners claim that the Authority is planning to cultivate maize on the land. The plan is to issue 500 acre plots to seven parties.

“We have brought forward a very real issue. We have no other way to receive justice than go to court. These are traditional lands of the indigenous people. They protected it and refrained from even cutting down a single tree,” Centre for Environmental Justice’s Executive Director, W. D. Hemantha, who is also a petitioner said. He said the Government has already permitted people to cultivate maize in the catchment area of the Rambakan Reservoir. He said that the forest areas in Welikanda and Kandakadu are also facing the threat of destruction as there are plans to cultivate maize, cinnamon and palm oil trees.

“What we have found out is that the Mahaweli Authority is more powerful than the Forest Department and whereever the Mahaweli Authority goes there is damage to the forests.”

He added that forests are in ‘real danger’ and this has threatened the habitat of elephants and other animals.