Sri Lanka’s indigenous leader goes to court against land allocation
The Indigenous Vedda Community Leader Uhuru Warige Wannila Aththo today filed a petition before the Court of Appeal against the acquisition of their heritage land for the cultivation of maize.
The petition has been filed along with the Centre for Environmental Justice and Environmental scientist Hemantha Withanage.
The petitioners have called on the court to prevent the allocation of lands owned by the indigenous community to leading companies for maize cultivation.
The Wildlife Minister, Secretary to the Environment Ministry, the Mahaweli Development Authority, Director Generals of the Wildlife and Forest Conservation Departments, among others have been named as respondents.
The petitioners claim that the Mahaweli Development Authority has acquired over 50,000 acres of land owned and maintained by the indigenous community for the cultivation of maize.
The Vedda community said the Mahaweli Development Authority is causing severe environmental destruction by allocating the lands to leading companies for maize cultivation.
They said the lands seized by the Mahaweli Development Department are used for their day to day livelihoods and to obtain food for their survival.
Citing these facts, the petitioners called on the court to prevent their lands from being acquired for this purpose.