News

Human-elephant conflict Satyagraha: Wild Elephant Mgt Reserve to Cabinet soon

By Pamodi Waravita

 

A cabinet paper for the proposed Wild Elephant Management Reserve in Hambantota is due to be handed over to the Cabinet of Ministers soon by the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation as a solution to the ongoing Satyagraha campaign by locals in Walsapugala, Hambantota.

“Regulations for the said Cabinet paper are currently being discussed at the Ministry, along with the support of the Mahaweli Authority, and will be finalised soon,” said Ministry Co-ordinating Secretary Nihal Premasinghe.

A cabinet memorandum on the matter has already been tabled by Subject Minister C.B. Rathnayake.

According to Viyaparika Kiri Govi Sanvidana organisation Secretary Thushara Seneviratne, the Satyagraha campaign is continuing in Walsapugala for the fifth day today (22) since 18 January. The locals are demanding that the proposed Wild Elephant Management Reserve in Hambantota be gazetted as a relief to the problems they face due to the human-elephant conflict (HEC) in the area.

“Land grabbing from the higher areas up until Gonnoruwa Road has resulted in elephants losing their natural habitat and entering the village,” claimed Seneviratne.

Mahaweli Authority Residential Business Manager Osmond De Silva said that since the reserve is within the Mahaweli Authority’s land area, they have agreed to co-operate with the Ministry for the drafting of the regulations.

The Walsapugala village has been suffering for many years due to the HEC that has left villagers in constant fear for their lives, with pleas going unheard by the relevant authorities.

A total of 86 agrarian associations in the area currently support the protest action.