Environmentalists say that under the influence of a powerful politician representing the Opposition in the Kandy District, about 19 acres of land in the ecologically sensitive area above 3000 meters in the Hanthana Mountains in Kandy is being cleared.

The Hanthana Conservation Society says that the area has been cleared for cultivation or development since last Thursday (27th) and that nearly two acres of land has already been cleared.

According to the National Environmental Act No. 47 of 1980 No. 1641/28 and Extraordinary Gazette Notification dated 27th February 2010, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) has strictly prohibited the planning and implementation of development activities in the Hanthana Mountains above 3000 m without prior approval. There is also a large board attached.

Secretary of the Hanthana Conservationists’ Association Amit Senanayake says that although any work in this area has to be approved by the Hanthana Environmental Protection Area Management Committee, permission has not been obtained for such clearing.

Although various measures were taken to clear the area during the last government period, it is said that the work has been stopped despite strong protests from environmentalists.

Environmentalists say they have received information that the Hanthana land is being cleared for cardamom cultivation. The Hanthana Guardians’ Association states that a complaint has been lodged with the Kandy Police and the Police Emergency Response Team regarding the environmental damage.

When inquired by the Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority Siripala Amarasinghe he stated that a team will be deployed today (31st) to investigate the relevant location.

Excerpt – Aruna newspaper