Illegal stone quarry in Andarawewa forest reserve, Sri Lanka

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


Land has been grabbed for the operation of an illegal stone quarry in the Andarawewa Forest Reserve.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal stone quarry in Andarawewa forest reserve, Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
State or province: Anuradhapura District, North Central Province
(municipality or city/town)Nochchiyagama
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Deforestation
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Granite
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

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).

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Project area:8
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:about 40,000
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Access engineering from Sri Lanka - owner of one of the three stone quarries
Relevant government actors:Agrarian Services and Wildlife Deputy Minister S. M. Chandrasena

Irrigation and Water Management Deputy Minister W. B. Ekanayake

Mahaweli Authority

Resident Project Manager of system H of Mahaweli

Madyama Nuwara Palatha Pradeshiya Sabha

Central Environmental Authority

Director Environment Conservation Trust
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Sri Lanka

Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Sri Lanka

People’s Alliance for Right to Land - PARL

Sri Lanka Nature Group
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: 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
Other Environmental impactsClearance 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.

Loss of medicinal plants and food crops previously offered by the forest.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Other socio-economic impactsDue 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.

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.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Development of alternatives:Follow and apply existing regulation regarding Forest Reserves
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the protests by local communities, the project have been implemented
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980
[click to view]

Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka Act, No. 23 of 1979
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Website of Ministry of Mahweli Development and Environment
[click to view]

[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)
[click to view]

Other documents

The metal crusher in full swing, Forest Rock Garden Hotel under construction and Rasika Ekanayake’s metal quarry filled with water
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Centre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)
Last update17/10/2016