Forest officer sticks to guns, refuses to break the law!!

State Minister asks her to allow construction of a playground in preserved mangrove area 

A proposal to construct a playground in the Kadolkele Mangrove off the Negombo lagoon had been withdrawn following the strong stand taken by the Gampaha District Forest Officer Devani Jayathilaka at a meeting chaired by the Fisheries and Inland Fisheries Industry State Minister Sanath Nishantha Perera on Monday (10). 

 State Minister:  I am of the opinion that we, as people living in an island, are framed to the laws of coastal conservation institutions. People have no place to live. So, let’s take actions flexibly. 

Forest officer:  This is a forest land belonging to the government. 

Gathering:  Wilpattu? 

Forest officer: Ask about Wilpattu from the authorities. The lowest forest cover of 1.06% has been identified from the Gampaha area. Wildlife has only 18 acres and we have 80 hectares. If we lose the forest cover further, we will lose the oxygen as well, and there won’t be trees to absorb carbon dioxide. If the decisions are taken at the wish of the villagers, why should we have got into these positions after having got ourselves educated to protect this? 

Gathering:  Oxygen for what? Children are addicted to Ganja and heroin... 

Forest officer: I have proved in the court that the relevant land belongs to the government. 

State Minister:  You and I are representing the government. We can’t make this move with quarrels. Let’s discuss this matter amicably.   (The gathering argue with each other) 
State Minister:  Assist us to carry out other projects leaving this matter aside. 
Forest officer: No problem. But I can’t work beyond legal framework.

A video containing the footage of the discussion where some area residents were engaged in a verbal clash with the forest officer asking her to allow the construction of the playground, and the incident had gone viral on social media. 

The forest officer who was firm on her stance, flatly rejected the proposal attributing that it is illegal to construct a playground within the mangrove, which has been designated as a protected ecosystem by the government. She proceeded to say that the proposal had been made only heeding to the voice of the people, but not giving priority to the scientific facts and possible environmental hazards. 

“This is an ecosystem. The proposed land belongs to the government. We have an aim at increasing forest cover in the country. Still, we are lacking thousands of hectares of mangroves,” she said. 

“It came from the gathering that illegal constructions have already encroached these protected areas. Hence, we have discussed with the Negombo Mayor to commence a housing scheme project,” she added. 

The following dialogue was a verbal conversation held between the State Minister and forest officer. 
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