Certain people who speak of Wilpattu forest destruction don’t pay any attention to the Lower Malwattu Oya project which destroyed 19,000 acres, said Ven. Wekandawala Rahula Thera of Center for Environment and Nature Studies.
Why the act of destroying 19,000 acres only to provide water for 2,000 acres cannot be called forest destruction, Wekandawala Rahula Thera questioned.
Forest destruction in Wilpattu attracted attention due to Minister Bathiudeen’s involvement in it, and because of that, the Wilpattu issue has turned into a racist issue, the Thera said, adding that although Minister Bathiudeen too is responsible, the environmental issue must not be a conflict between two ethnicities.
“When we spoke about environmental issue before, environmentalists were labeled people who are against development projects. But we can see whether we have actually received the benefits of development projects. What is the outcome of small and large power plants built causing damage to the environmental system? What problem was resolved?”
Highways are being constructed throughout the country and it is causing ecological imbalance; it has reached a state even the President, as the Minister of Environment, cannot stop, Wekandawala Rahula Thera noted.
Due to the ESCAMP project, ecosystems in Wilpattu, Kanneliya, Knuckles and Udawala are facing a risk. Therefore, these acts must also be condemned.
The Ther added: “We must understand the objective behind the political opposition expressed to Minister Bathiudeen because of the Wilpattu issue. That’s where the questioning must start. Wen it comes to environmental destruction, we can’t think about these issues in different ways – overall, it is the environment that gives life that is being destroyed. Destruction of bio diversity is tantamount to our destruction. Therefore, it is important that we understand the politics behind these issues. If we understand these political motives, we will understand where we must begin.”