It is reported that the army has taken over about 11400 acers of land near at the Kandakaadu area which is between Somawathi national forest and Thrikonamadu natural forest. The area is spread as flood plans of the Mahavali river. The army had started to rent the lands to several companies. The army had rented 1000 acres of land to the Browns company on a 30 year rent. Also it is planned to rent 6000 acers to the Marina company.
The Browns company had cleared about 650 acers of the obtained land. The company has had planted Teak in 400 acers and Cavendish Banana plants in the rest 250 acres. The land is being cleared from the middle of the forest. The plantation is not visible to the outside. Also the company has taken measures to protect the secrecy by employing army soldiers for plantation work. It is also reported that the company plans to acquire other forest lands on rent basis after developing the current land. The company has reached an agreement with the disgraced Dole company in order export the bananas with the Dole branding.
Large amounts of fungicides, pesticides and fertilizers are added to the Cavendish Banana plantations. The residents as well as the animals in Polonnaruwa will have to face a treat when these chemicals are concentrated with water.
The agricultural lands source water from the Kandakadu stream. Kandakadu stream is a branch river of the Mahaweli river and supplies water for the Mawiaru area. Therefor this situation is leading the farmers in the Mawilaru area to a severe water scarcity.
The army has cleared 500 acers to grow vegetables. The water is sourced from the Kandakadu stream.
The 6000 acers land which is planned to rent to the Marina company will be used to grow the Katupol plant. This particular plants drains a considerable amount of water from the soil. Therefore, it could affect the underground water supply. It could affect the the farmers, forests, catchment areas and the sustainability of the Mahawli river.
The 33-year deal with the Browns company and the proposed deal will the Marina company violates the revised 1947 no 08 state land Ordinance. The army has no authority to execute the power of the Government land ordinance or any other land related act.
The Browns company has developed the land violating the environment laws and acts. According to the as stated in the 1(a) and (2) statements of the 1937 no 2 fauna and flora protection ordinance which was revised by the 2009 no 22 act, an environmental assessment should be carried and written permission should be obtained if a development project is carried within one mile of a national forest reserve.
As a result of the mass destruction a large number of elephants and various other species have lost their habitat. This had lead towards a human elephant conflict. Farmers are struggling to carry on with their life. Also the chemicals used in the plantations could increase the popularity of the kidney disease present in the area.
Therefore, we kindly request the Department of Wildlife Conservation Central Environmental Authority, Environment and Renewable Energy Ministry and the Divisional Secretariat and all the other government authorities to take action against this mass destruction.