Illegal stone quarry in Andarawewa forest reserve, Sri Lanka

Corruption, clientelism and land grabbing for stone quarries in a forest reserve

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns">Land has been grabbed for the operation of an illegal stone quarry in the Andarawewa Forest Reserve. The Andarawewa Forest Reserve is located in the Northen Central Province within the Mahaweli ‘H’ zone and has been under the the control of Mahaweli Authority since 1892, when it was declared a wildlife protection zone. As a protected zone unauthorized entrance, clearing and timber extraction were prohibited by the Mahaweli Authority. However, since 2010 Mahaweli Authority has begun dividing the area into allotments for release to the private sector. Allegedly, the Resident Project Manager of system H of Mahaweli has facilitated land allotment to private investors with political support of several Ministers. In particular, environmental activists and local villagers accuse the Agrarian Services and Wildlife Deputy Minister S. M. Chandrasena and Irrigation and Water Management Deputy Minister W. B. Ekanayake for grabbing the reserve lands distributing it amongst their cohorts and relatives without considering the environment impact and the biodiversity of the forest. Following a report by Friends of the Earth International [1], a 20 acre (8ha) plot has been given to the company ‘Access Engineering’ for the operation of a stone quarry. The land was acquired by a local councilor for the Madyama Nuwara Palatha Pradeshiya Sabha and by Rasika Ekanayake, the son of Deputy Minister W. B. Ekanayake. This land has been leased to the above mentioned company and the necessary equipment is currently being installed on the land. In spite of being located in a Forest Reserve, according to Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB), three Industrial Mining licenses have been granted for the quarry to Rasika Ekanayake, his wife and W. P. Wickremasinghe, on the recommendation of the Mahaweli Authority and the Central Environmental Authority. In 2013, Arunashantha, a representative of a farmer organization opposing to the project declared to The Sunday Leader that the land given to Ekanayake for the quarry has an archaeological value. Moreover he stated that the granite is removed with the help of backhoes and other heavy machinery working round the clock. The noises have forced wild animals away from the Andarawewa Forest Reserve and their lives are at stake. In addition to this extractive project, further tourism projects, such as the Palm Garden Hotel (see below, related conflicts), have been implemented within the forest reserve, increasing the pressure on the forest ecosystem. All these activities have been implemented ignoring the regulations of the National Environmental Act. Following the mentioned article by The Sunday Leader, in order to build the road, many trees have been cut and security check points were established within the forest to check who entered the forest reserve. Despite the strong opposition carried out by villagers and local EJO's, the project have been implemented causing severe damages to the forest environment and to the residents in the area [1][2].</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Illegal stone quarry in Andarawewa forest reserve, Sri Lanka</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/sri-lanka">Sri Lanka</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td> Anuradhapura District, North Central Province</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Nochchiyagama</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)<br /> Deforestation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/sand-gravel'>Sand, gravel</a><br />Granite</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In spite of being located in a Forest Reserve, three Industrial Mining licenses have been granted for the operation of the quarry to Rasika Ekanayake, his wife and W. P. Wickremasinghe. The quarry is operated by the Sri Lankan company Access International and covers and area of 20 acre (8ha).</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">A more than 2.5 km long road has been constructed within the forest, destroying large trees. [1]<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>8</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>unknown</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>about 40,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>2010</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/access-engineering'>Access engineering</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/sri-lanka'><small>Sri Lanka</small></a> - <small>owner of one of the three stone quarries</small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Agrarian Services and Wildlife Deputy Minister S. M. Chandrasena <br/><br/>Irrigation and Water Management Deputy Minister W. B. Ekanayake<br/><br/>Mahaweli Authority<br/><br/>Resident Project Manager of system H of Mahaweli<br/><br/>Madyama Nuwara Palatha Pradeshiya Sabha<br/><br/>Central Environmental Authority<br/><br/>Director Environment Conservation Trust</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Sri Lanka<br/><br/>Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Sri Lanka<br/><br/>People’s Alliance for Right to Land - PARL<br/><br/>Sri Lanka Nature Group</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> International ejos<br /> Local ejos<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Social movements<br /> Local scientists/professionals</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)<br /> Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Street protest/marches<br /> Arguments for the rights of mother nature<br /> Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Clearance of the forest leads to drying out of the tanks during the dry season. This deprives Elephants and other wildlife of their sources of food and water. As a result, Elephants are impelled to enter the nearby villages causing a human-elephant conflict.<br/><br/>Loss of medicinal plants and food crops previously offered by the forest.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Due to the loss of their natural environment, elephants now pass through Paddy fields, affecting the agricultural activities of the local farmer communities. As a result there is a degradation of livelihood and standard of living.<br/><br/>The local communities have been deprived of the benefits like medicinal plants and food crops offered by the forest previously, extra expenses have now to be paid for the same commodities, leading a loss in the livelihood.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Corruption</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>Follow and apply existing regulation regarding Forest Reserves</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Despite the protests by local communities, the project have been implemented</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka Act, No. 23 of 1979<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> [1] Uprooting people from the land. Land grabbing, current status and trends in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Nature Group, People’s Alliance for Right to Land - PARL. June 2012<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Website of Ministry of Mahweli Development and Environment<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [2] Newspaper article from 'the sunday leader' online (10/01/2013). Land Grab Galore In NCP Forest Reserves By Nirmala Kannangara (accessed 20/04/2015)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p> The metal crusher in full swing, Forest Rock Garden Hotel under construction and Rasika Ekanayake’s metal quarry filled with water<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Centre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>17/10/2016</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>