Villagers in the Panahaduwa Grama Niladhari Division in the Embilipitiya Divisional Secretariat Division in the Ratnapura District say that a mountain belonging to a dolomite wildlife reserve in the village of Meegahayaya is being cut down to create a public nuisance and that the natural stream that flows there is being destroyed and occupied by the villagers. A protest petition signed by nearly 300 villagers has been filed stating that a road will be constructed to reach this mountain. Similarly, the Sri Rawana Lanka National Organization has complained to a number of government officials and requested them not to commit this crime.
They have also released evidence that a monk who is said to be the Grama Sevaka of the Panahaduwa Grama Niladhari Division, the Divisional Secretary of the Embilipitiya Divisional Secretariat and the monk in charge of a nearby temple had come with the OIC of the Udawalawe Police and had forcibly seized the lands. According to the evidence, with the assistance of the Udawalawe OIC, the monk had said, “These parts are mine” and the Divisional Secretary had done the deed by saying that the lands which did not belong to him were “mine”. The monk is also accused of forging documents and information has been received that the Udawalawe OIC is taking steps to save the monk.
Such forcible seizure of land is prohibited by law and should be done in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act. The officers and the monk have committed a serious offense under the Ceylon Penal Code and the OIC has aided and abetted the offense. Accordingly, he too should be punished before the law. It is also stated that the Ratnapura District Secretary has also visited this area before and this work is being done with her assistance and support. However, there are people in the village who have title deeds to the land and it is said that the hill station has been set aside for the proposed reserve.
The people of the area have also been informed that the cutting of the mountain will deprive them of drinking water, destroy their crops and cause great environmental damage. A similar incident has taken place in a 50 acre village called Koswetiya in the same area and the people in the area have been severely affected. The water supply to the 50-acre area has also dried up and the people have been protesting for several years, but the authorities seem unaware of it and many government officials at the time have now retired. . Several people who worked in quarries in the 50-acre area have been killed due to illegal activities and the Udawalawe Reservoir has been warned that the earthquake could cause damage if the man-made dona boat collapses.
Such incidents leave a deep scar on the government, led by His Excellency the President, and it is unfortunate that government officials should not take the law into their own hands and forget that they are working for the protection of the environment and human beings and that the people are paying their salaries.
There is a law in Sri Lanka. The law prohibits the reluctance of the people to acquire land for development or other purposes. The legal provisions and procedures required for the recovery of state land and the acquisition of other freehold lands are clearly stated. Currently, land grabbing is being carried out by government officials in several places in Sri Lanka. Police officers have also been present at all those places illegally and police protection has been provided to the relevant government officials to prevent them from committing crimes. The fact that the police officers knowingly support the crime knowing that they are doing something wrong shows that most police officers are not trying to go the right way.
All that needs to be done to acquire land is to act in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act. For that, the State Land Acquisition Act and the Land Acquisition Act should be used. If that does not happen, it is time to file a criminal complaint against these government officials. For that a complaint should be lodged with the police. Complaints can also be made easily using the names and addresses of those officers. Also, if the law is not enforced by the police, a complaint should be lodged with the area magistrate either through a lawyer or personally using Section 25 (1) of the Code of Conduct for Primary Courts. But it is better to file a complaint through a lawyer. Also, the services of a trusted and competent lawyer are more effective. It is also important for future legal action that a complaint be lodged with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka against all these officers, step by step up to the Police Headquarters.
The Divisional Secretary is responsible for rescuing the people for the inconvenience caused to them. Whether it is government land or freehold land, the proper land authority is the Divisional Secretary on behalf of the District Secretary, and even the Supreme Court has accepted the principle of sustainable development. There are. Even the judiciary loses the power to make decisions or investigate matters after the Minister has gazetted it. But what has happened here is that the authorities who are supposed to protect the people are acting against the people.
Also, with the intervention of the people of the area, the government will take over this area and protect the forest. Under section 38 (a) of the present Land Act, even the enjoyment of land can be acquired “on urgency”. But for that, the procedures mentioned in the Acts should be followed and the “emergency” should be used only for the public good.
17 (1) of the Sri Lanka Southern Development Act No. 18 of 1996 provides for the acquisition of this land with or without compensation. Accordingly, these acquisitions can be made for public purposes and the Divisional Secretary is empowered to issue an order to stop this destruction immediately. But nothing in this place is done for public purposes and cannot be acquired by law as the public is being persecuted. Also, according to Section 2 (1) of the Land Reclamation (Amendment) Ordinance, they can be taken over by the Government Agent when it appears that they have been abandoned for a period of 8 years or more. But that too can only be done for public safety and thus cannot be achieved by environmental destruction. However, even the District Secretary is not legally empowered to acquire lands belonging to a wildlife reserve.
In this case, the relevant police officers can also file criminal cases. In this case, the officers can be prosecuted under Sections 56, 90, 100, 102, 112, 113,120, 199, 214,215, 216, 261, 289, 330, 340, 372 of the Ceylon Penal Code. No separate evidence is required. There is evidence from these very events.
People suffering from non-implementation of this law book can be seen in many areas.