Apathy spells bleak future for Jaffna coconut

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 January 2003, 20:25 GMT]
More than hundred and fifty thousand coconut trees were destroyed in Jaffna due to military operations, officials of the state run Coconut Development Board (CDB) said Tuesday. However, only about 15 thousand saplings have been replanted so far, one year after the ceasefire agreement between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers, the officials said.

Environmentalists in the island’s north accuse the Sri Lanka army of cutting down thousands of coconut and Palmyra palms to build bunkers and to bulldoze paths off the main roads for military traffic.

Many coconut plantations in the northern peninsula’s Thenmaradchi division were virtually razed to the ground in sustained barrages by the Sri Lanka army when it attempted unsuccessfully to recapture the region from the Liberation Tigers in April 2001.

The largest number of coconut trees was destroyed in 2000 in Eluthumadduval, Mirusuvil, Nunavil, Pallai, Chavakachcheri, Madduvil and Pachchilaipalli in the Thenmaradchi division, according to the officials.

Many plantations in this division remain out of bounds for they are still infested with mine fields and unexploded ordnance left behind by the Sri Lanka army.

As a consequence of this destruction, the price of coconut, a staple in Sri Lankan diets, is high in Jaffna.

Environmentalists say that the Sri Lanka army destroyed large plantations in the east for profit by sending the logs for sale in Sinhala areas. Builders in Sri Lanka value rafters made from the trunks of mature coconut palms.


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