July 22, Colombo: The Director General of Forest Conservation Department has informed the Court of Appeal that the Department will not allow the trees in the Kallaru Forest Reserve Zone near the Wilpattu National Forest to be felled.
The State Counsel representing the Director General of Forest Conservation Department made this submission when a petition filed by the Environmental Justice Center was taken up for hearing today by an Appeal Court bench consisting of judges Janaka de Silva and Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne.
The State Counsel stated that the Director General of Forest Conservation had given a written notice stating that the trees would not be allowed to be cut down.
The court directed the State Counsel to submit a copy of the written notice of the Director General to former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, who is named as a respondent in the case.
The court ordered the petition to be taken up on the 31st July.
The petitioners have informed the Court that certain persons have cleared the forest and built unauthorized constructions in the Marichchukattu and Kallaru forest areas about 400 meters from the Wilpattu National Forest Zone.
The petition states that the clearing of forests in this manner is a punishable offense under Section 3 of the Forest Conservation Act and a court can give a person who is guilty of the offense up to five years imprisonment and fine up to Rs. 100,000.
The petition also seeks the court to issue an interim injunction to ban the clearing of forest area and prevent any further unauthorized constructions.