Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Correction)

Tamils need native movements to confront Colombo-centric environmental exploitations

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 July 2018, 23:49 GMT]
Many recent reports from the eastern coast of the North-East indicate a widespread pattern of various corporate and state-centric exploitations targeting the natural resources of the territorial sea and the coast of the North-East. Colombo-based corporates and traders are exploiting export-related businesses, be it sea cucumber export to China, fake mangroves and minerals to the USA and Japan, or mining sand for shipping to the neighbouring state of Maldives. On top of this, Colombo-centric State-to-State relationships originating from geopolitics-driven ‘development’ narrative, as well as military to military ‘exchanges’, are challenging the sovereignty of Eezham Tamils in a big-scale along the territorial sea and the strategic cost.

Colombo is selling access to USA and India in the North-East while engaging with China in the South.

There is a systematic pattern of Colombo-centric unitary mechanisms circumventing the civic councils, local authorities and the communities in the North and the East.

Big powers and their soft-agents are getting involved in seismic-studies involving energy sector, fisheries development, shipping and ports, environment conservation, large industries to cultural interactions such as eco-tourism in the North-East without the involvement of the provincial councils.

Various ‘development’ authorities, departments and ministries controlled by the unitary mechanism of genocidal Sri Lanka are operating in tandem with the occupying military and the police protecting the exploiters on the ground.

Eezham Tamils need to form community-driven independent environment awareness groups to confront the structural genocide, and the commercial exploitation of Colombo-centric businesses destroying their environment in the East, grassroots activists in Ko'ra'laip-pattu South (Kiraan) division told TamilNet.

The de-facto state of Tamil Eelam, conceived and administered by the LTTE, was having institutions and mechanisms to protect the environment even during the times of war. None of the exploiters, including the poachers from Tamil Nadu, were able to threaten the environment of Eezham Tamils, they said.

Even the sand extracted in war-affected areas of Batticaloa are being sent to Colombo for export to the Maldives.

The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau coming under the unitary State system should be regulating the process of sand mining along with the input from the Divisional Secretary.

Divisional Secretary, Mr K Thanapalasundaram, when contacted by journalists in Batticaloa, admitted that sand mining was taking place despite his move to contain the illegal activity. He had even revoked route permit for sand excavation in two of the three affected GS areas, but illicit sand mining is continuing, he said.

The grassroots activists from Koa'ra'lap-pattu South said three GS divisions are severely affected by sand mining in their DS division. Ku'laththu-madu and Peddaik-ku'lam in Vaakaneari GS area and Mu'l'li-vaddavaan in Punaanai West and Chanthi-aaddup-paalam in Poolaak-kaddu GS area are prone to sand mining. Only one of these GS areas, Mu'l'li-vaddavaan was having a sand yard for those operating with the license to exhume sand. However, three times more than the extent of sands allowed to be mined are being transported every day, the activists said. The SL Police, which should be restricting the activity, is also taking the side of the exploiting businesses, they blamed.

“If you complain about the illegal mining, the SL police will start harassing you,” said an activist who didn't wish to be named.

The exhumed sands are being transported to the South, and business of exporting sands to the Maldives is run from Colombo, the activist further said.

There have been reports of Damsila Exports Pvt Ltd., a big company exporting phlogopite mica and other minerals from the island, scheming excavation of Ilmenite resources in Thirukkoayil in Ampaa'rai.

Occupying Colombo's “National Aquaculture Development Authority” (NAQDA) has deployed Sinhala-owned companies from South to engage in “fake mangrove” production along the northern coast of Batticaloa.

Colombo's military and police are functioning as brokers for intruding woodcutters coming from other areas to collect timber by logging the trees in SL military occupied Tamil villages in Moothoor East of Trincomalee. The occupying SL Navy is also dumping garbage into the agricultural areas of resettled people outside the military zone, causing environmental and health hazards in Champoor.

The occupying Colombo has grabbed 1,300 acres of coastal lands from four administrative divisions in Batticaloa for commercial exploitation.

The agents of occupying Colombo have been targeting individual environmental activists in the North and East with killings, intimidations and harassments after 2009.

It is time for the environmental activists among the Eezham Tamils to create institutions to promote environmental awareness among the people, the activists in Batticaloa said.

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