He further added that 31,900 acres from Padaviya Forest Reserve too had been obtained by the Mahaweli Authority to settle people from the south.
“Ninety per cent of these lands in the Padaviya Forest Reserve has been bulldozed and a wide road network has been constructed within the 31,900 acre land. This forest land was declared as a forest reserve under the gazette notification No. 1793/21 of January 18, 2013. Since the Mahaweli Authority wanted to acquire this reserve, it was de-gazetted by gazette notification No. 1808/ 04 of April 29, 2013,” said Chamikara.
“Although the Mahaweli Authority claims that they re-settle the families who were living in these areas before the war, this is a thick jungle and all trees are well over 100 years old. So how can they claim that these people were living in this area 30 years ago? Maybe the Mahaweli Authority wants to re-settled some of the displaced in these forest lands but most of the settlers are from Hambantota, Matara and Gampaha districts,” added Chamikara.
Meanwhile reliable sources from Forest Department on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Leader that they are against the Mahaweli Authority’s move