42 Trees Felled - PS Chairman - A Law Unto Himself ! Unjust Enrichment Via Natural Resources
Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka|February 23, 2021
Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha (PS) Chairman Jayasanka Perera was allegedly accused of haphazardly felling 42 trees prior to widening Diyagala – Nallatanniya road without informing any state institute. We reported on this in the Daily Mirror recently.

These felled trees are valued at more than ten million Rupees. It is surprising that no state institute was aware of this incident until the trees were sold. After this incident was reported a wide investigation was launched with an exclusive investigation by the Presidential Secretariat. In the investigation conducted by a special committee appointed by the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat, the officers involved revealed that 18 trees, falling under the Road Development Authority reserve, were felled and the rest of the trees were from estate company lands. The committee has also found that prior to removing trees belonging to the RDA, no state institute has been informed. The PS Chairman has also transported those trees without informing the State Timber Corporation. However, critics point out that he has no right to transport them and it was the State Timber Corporation that should transport, estimate the value and sell the trees after which the money should go to the government.

An investigating officer said that the PS Chairman has pocketed the money obtained by transporting and selling the trees.

Even though the team of investigators has participated in the investigation following a request by Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat, the Ambagamuwa PS Chairman has avoided the team by claiming that he had travelled to Nuwara Eliya for an urgent official matter.

Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha Member Helapriya Nandaraja said that the CID was in charge of the other investigation through which much information has been revealed. When compiling the previous article, the owner of Jayanthi Sawmill in Badupola said that the felled trees were taken there to be sawed. She also said that she was unwilling to accept them as there was no permit. However, she had sawed some trunks on a request by the Chairman and the Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha had paid for that, she added.

However, the CID investigations have revealed that a Forest Officer in the Gampaha district is said to be involved in this and he had informed the sawmill owner about the tree trunks which didn’t have permits, Nandaraja said. The officer had asked the sawmill owner to saw the tree trunks. There are investigations probing these incidents, he added.

GOVT. PROPERTY MISUSED

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