Nothing seems to get done in this country without a presidential intervention. A collective of environmental groups has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to have the ongoing rape of the Dahaiyagala sanctuary stopped immediately. A large number of ruling party politicians and their henchmen are clearing swaths of forest inside the sanctuary purportedly for agricultural purposes, as we have reported. They have already caused irreparable damage to the forest, and at this rate, they are likely to obliterate the sanctuary before long unless they are stopped forthwith.
The present dispensation seems to have an antipathy towards anything green. Having driven the political Greens (read UNP) to near extinction, it stands accused of having given its backers a free hand to destroy the country’s forest cover. Before the last presidential and parliamentary elections, the SLPP made a solemn pledge to protect the environment and restore the rule of law, among other things, but what it is doing is the very antithesis of its promise. Not even the crippling gavel blow SJB MP and former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen suffered at the hands of the Court of Appeal for destroying part of the Kallaru forest reserve has had a deterrent effect on the pro-government groups engaged in destroying the Dahaiyagala sanctuary.
Bauthiudeen cut his teeth on forest destruction when he was a minister in the previous Rajapaksa regime. One can only hope that the government will not open an escape route for him in return for his party’s votes in Parliament.