Gem authority denies unauthorised mining allegation
2 years ago
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) has denied the recent allegations made by the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) that certain powerful businessmen in Ratnapura are engaged in unauthorised mechanised gem mining with the support of two powerful politicians in the area.
Sajeewa Chamikara of the MONLAR has recently alleged that unauthorised mechanised gem mining with the support of powerful politicians in the Ratnapura area has caused severe environmental damage. He also claimed that due to such activities, people in the area have been severely affected due to the drying up of water sources and the resultant inability to cultivate paddy fields, and having to face the increased risk of the likelihood of landslides occurring.
Chamikara further claimed that those who engaged in illegal gem mining were suppressing the issues faced by people using their financial and political clout. “The main reason for this situation is the negligence of the NGJA and the Police Department. Such activities are on the rise due to the failure to carry out raids to stop illegal mining, the lack of follow up action to determine whether mining is taking place in accordance with the conditions set out in the permits, and the failure to take legal action against those who carry out illegal mining,” he also alleged.
However, when contacted by The Morning, the NGJA Chairman Thilak Weerasinghe denied the allegations made by the MONLAR. He said that gem mining was permitted only to licensees, adding that necessary action would be taken against cases of illegal mining.
“Environmental organisations and non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) usually don’t allow for any developmental activities to take place under any Government. Exporting gems is one of the main sources of income for the country at a time when there is a shortage of dollars in the country’s reserves due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he mentioned.