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* Over 70 families encroaching Sri Lanka's national park to be relocated
Sun, Apr 27, 2014, 11:59 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 27, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has taken measures to relocate over 70 displaced families, who have settled in the Wilpattu National Park, in a land outside the Park.

The government has allocated a 50-acre plot of land about a mile away from the park to resettle the 73 Muslim families, who have been living inside the national park boundaries, Mannar District Secretary M.Y.S. Deshapriya has said, according to a report in Sunday Observer.

Their settlement inside the park has sparked protest by the extremist Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena and by environmental organizations.

Western Provincial Council Minister of Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) party, Udaya Gammanpila called on the government to initiate legal action against Commerce and Industry Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen over the alleged resettlement of Muslim people in the Wilpattu National Park.

Gammanpila called for the authorities to take legal action against persons who have resettled people in the national park irrespective of their positions, party or religious differences.

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) last week surrounded Bathiyutheen's Ministry to protest the alleged resettlement of Muslims in Wilpattu National Park.

The Environment Conservation Trust, a green NGO last week alleged that over 500 acres of protected forest in the Wilpattu North Sanctuary had been cleared for settlements and authorities are not taking any actions against the destruction.

Minister Bathiyutheen has said that he had no objection to the families being relocated and hoped the issue will not be dragged on by interested parties even after they are relocated.

Mannar District Secretary's office will assist the resettlement of the families in the new location.

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