The writ petition filed by Uruwarige Wannila Aththo, the leader of the indigenous population known as “Veddas,” challenging the clearing of the lands at Pollebedda-Rambakenoya was today fixed for argument by the Court of Appeal.


The Court of Appeal’s two-judge bench, comprising Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Dhammika Ganepola, fixed the petition for argument on September 8.


The Court of Appeal had earlier issued notices to several respondents, including the Mahaweli Development Authority, regarding this writ petition.


Wannila Aththo and the Center for Environmental Justice filed this writ petition challenging the clearing of the lands in the Pollebedda-Rambaken Oya area for a proposed agricultural and livestock development project.


The petitioners are seeking an order staying the validity of approvals granted to the Mahaweli Authority to clear the relevant lands for the proposed agriculture and livestock development project.


Filing this petition through counsel Ravindranath Dabare, the petitioners have named the Central Environmental Authority, Mahaweli Development Authority, Department of Forests, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, RAN Plantations (Pvt) Ltd., and several others as respondents.


RAN Plantations (Pvt) Ltd. had told the court that the company used abandoned lands that were earlier used for chena cultivation.


The petitioners said that deforestation and development have greatly contributed to the shrinking of their traditional lands. This has caused a progressive decline in their number, and the community is at risk of losing its ancient traditions, which have been handed down from generation to generation.


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