Widespread logging backed by SL military in Mannaar continues to escape scrutiny

[TamilNet, Monday, 26 August 2019, 23:35 GMT]
The commanders of the occupying Sinhala military stationed in three of the five divisions of Mannaar district have been partnering with millionaire wood traders from the South in a widespread and systematic illegal logging going on for a long time after 2009, Tamil officials in Mannaar District Secretariat said. The massive-scale exploitation has reached dangerous proportions and was causing severe environmental effects, the officials told TamilNet. The SL Forest Conservation Department or the SL Police do not act against the conduct of the SL military officers. Now, the SL military is also enjoying the police powers, overriding the authority of the SL Police, the officials further said.

The environmental department of the civil administration (de-facto state of Tamil Eelam) of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was preserving the forest areas with thousands of hectares for a long time during the times of armed struggle.

Before 2009, the LTTE-led environmental unit planted Paalai (Ironwood) and Theakku (Teak) trees for ecological protection.

The forest areas in Madu, Maanthai West and Musali divisions are subjected to the systematic annihilation.

As these areas border with Anuradhapura and Puththa'lam districts, it has been easier for the SL military and its partners to transport the logged trees out of the Northern province, the Tamil officials said. They didn't wish to be named due to security reasons.

Muthirai (Satinwood), Paalai, Karungkaali (Ebony) and Theakku trees have been logged in large numbers and transported during the nights.

SL military commanders are collaborating with wood industry companies owned by Sinhalese in the South involving large sums of money. It is not known whether the money goes to the private pockets of the Sinhala commanders or used to military expenses, the officials further said.

In the meantime, the SL Police and the Forest Conservation Department punish the poverty-stricken Tamil villagers who collect firewood without logging trees and the people who engage in collecting honey in the jungle for their livelihood. The SL judiciary has not punished any of the significant wood companies involved in systematic exploitation.

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