Jan 25, Colombo: The three-member committee investigating the deforestation of Wilpattu Forest Reserve has recommended that former Minister and Wanni District parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen pay more than Rs. 1 billion for the reforestation of the Kallaru forest reserve near the Wilpattu forest.
The committee investigating the deforestation has recommended that the money must be paid due to the deforestation caused by former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and has referred the matter to the Attorney General and to the MP.
The Department of Forest Conservation has submitted the committee report to the Attorney General, recommending Rishad Bathiudeen to pay Rs. 1.21 billion to replant 825 hectares of land, Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero, President of Surakimu Sri Lanka Organization said.
The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) filed a petition in the Court of Appeal in 2015 stating that a great deal of environmental damage has been done by the clearing of 2388 acres (about 966 hectares) of the Maraichukkaddi-Karadikkuli (Kallaru) Forest Reserve situated at the Northern boundary of the Wilpattu National Park, and unauthorized construction.
The Court of Appeal on 16 November 2020 ruled that clearing the Kallaru reserve forest near the Wilpattu forest reserve and constructing settlements in the cleared area is illegal and ordered the former Minister Bathiudeen to plant trees at his own expense to reforest the forest area cleared for settlements.