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Silawathurei large-scale Cashew plantations, Sri Lanka


Description:

The Civil Security Force of Kondachchi appropriated 6,000 acres (2428ha) of land to establish a cashew plantation, states a report released in 2012 by PARL Sri Lanka, a local EJO [1]. The area is near the Civil Security Force Camp in Kondachchi and includes a 100 meter stretch of forest on both sides of the Silawathurei-Wilachchi Road up to Kalaaru, the boundary of Wilpattu National Park. Following the report [1] and sources by the Ministry of Defence (Sri Lanka) [9], cashew has been planted in an area of 1,000 acres. However, other more recent data sources (specifically, a report of a Select Committee of Parliament drafted in 2014)[8] states that the area of cashew plantation cultivated by the Civil Security Force in Kondachchi now covers 2,000 acres (809ha).

According to PARL [1], the whole area has been cleared by heavy machinery, removing trees to be replaced by cashew plants. In addition, the Civil Security Force has taken over the land without obtaining any prior approval from the competent institutions, as required by Law (Land Development Ordinance [2]). Hence, this project has been implemented without the required authorizations. More specifically, according to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordnance [3], the mandatory prior written approval from the Wildlife Director General for any redevelopment within an area of one mile from the boundary of a National Park is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Although this project has been implemented by clearing forestland in the margin of Wilpattu National Park, such approval has not been obtained. Lastly, the National Environmental Act [4] prescribes that if any forestland exceeding the surface of one hectare is cleared for development, a prior written Environmental Recommendation should be obtained, based on an EIA process.

In this specific case, the clearing of forestlands and the establishment of agricultural activities have been conducted violating the above legal provisions.

Besides being carried out without following the mandatory legal procedures, the project adversely impacts both the environment and the local communities [1][5]. The forest system of the area connected to the Wilpattu National Park has been fragmented due to clearing of a massive forest area, causing the loss of habitat for many species of animals. Furthermore, the lifestyle and subsistence of local residents are affected by the project. The forest is located in a semi-arid region and the clearing of the land causes localized changes in water and climate patterns. Deforestation modifies the water retention mechanism affecting groundwater levels. Since residents in and around Kondachchi depend mainly on well-water, drinking water and irrigation problems will arise. Local environmentalists state that since land acquisition and project implementation have been carried out violating the civil laws, no compensation measures have been taken to avoid harming land productivity in the area.

Moreover, during the last years, Mannar district and the areas surrounding Wilpattu National Park are affected by a strong competition for land. Families displaced during the civil war are returning and the demand of land for cultivation and settlement porpoises is increasing. Local communities complain that military forces are clearing land to carry out their own cultivations and farming activities, detracting land to locals who have been denied access to their cultivation lands [6]. On the other hand the State is appropriating land to resettle people returning from Menik Farm [7] to their place of origins [8][6]. But at the same time many of the returnees complain that there has been little done by the State in terms of “resettling” them. Many of the returnees have no housing and livelihoods.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Silawathurei large-scale Cashew plantations, Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
State or province:Mannar district, Northern Province
Location of conflict:Kondachchi
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Land acquisition conflicts
Deforestation
Specific commodities: Cashew
Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

The Civil Security Force (CSF) cultivated over 10,500 acres since the end of the humanitarian operation. 1,000 of this 10,500 acres are used for cashew plantation in Kondachchi [9].

According to other sources the area of the Cashew plantation controlled by Civil Security Department is of 2,000 acres. Specifically, latest governmental sources (2014) state that out of 25,000 acres of cashew plantation in Kondachchi, 19,000 acres have been acquired by the government, another 2,000 acres are cultivated by the Civil Security Department, and action has been taken to cultivate the remaining 4,000 acres by the Cashew Corporation [8]

Project area:809ha (cultivated area)
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:unknown
Start of the conflict:2012
Company names or state enterprises:Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation ((SLCC) ) from Sri Lanka
Relevant government actors:Civil Security Force (Sri Lanka)
Civil Security Department (Sri Lanka)
Ministry of Defence (Sri Lanka)
Departments of Forest Conservation, Wildlife Conservation, Archaeology, Land Commissioner and Agrarian Services (Sri Lanka)
Ministry of Economic Development
Government of Sri Lanka
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ)
Sri Lanka Nature Group
People’s Alliance for Right to Land

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Other Environmental impactsThe area was an important corridor for elephants, since their natural habitat has being cleared up the will pass through villages leading to an escalation of the human-elephant conflict
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:The project was implemented in spite of lack of compliance with the Law
Development of alternatives:Local EJOs underline the presence of barren lands and ask to the Ministry of Economic Development to use that ones if it needs soil for development activities or for the human settlements.
In particular the Centre for Environmental Justice is stressing the need of the Ministry of Economic Development to make the development more sustainable by preserving every remaining forest lands and respecting to the environmental laws of the country [10].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The plantation has been implemented

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[2] Land Development Ordinance 1935 (No. 19 of 1935) and amends
http://faolex.fao.org/cgi-bin/faolex.exe?database=faolex&s[email protected]ERALL&lang=eng

[3] Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance
http://www.commonlii.org/lk/legis/consol_act/fafp567290.pdf

[4] National Environmental Act and its amends
http://www.cea.lk/web/index.php/en/acts-regulations

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

Centre for Environmental Justice. Environment Law. Ravindranath Dabare Attorney-at-Law. Sri Lanka, 2009
http://ejustice.lk/Publications/Environmental%20Law%20%28%20Sinhala%29/Environment%20Law%20English%20Book.pdf

[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
http://file.ejatlas.org/docs/landgrabbinginSri_LankaEnglish.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[7] Article on wikipedia. Sri Lankan IDP camps. (accessed 14/04/2015)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_IDP_camps

[5] Online article on Yahoo group -Sri Lanka wildlife (11/11/2010) 'Wildlife sanctuaries are more business hub. Last onslaught in Wilpattu’s slow rape. By Rathindra Kuruwita (accessed 14/04/2015)
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wildlanka/conversations/messages/573

[8] Report of the Select Committee of Parliament to discuss the Heads of Expenditure of Ministries selected from the Budget Estimates of 2015. Parliamentary Series N. 344. November 2014. (accessed 13/04/2015)
http://www.parliament.lk/uploads/comreports/1416825029064054.pdf

[9]Online article on Ministry of Defence web site 2/5/2013. Civil Security Force propels cultivation drive.
http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=Civil_Security_Force_propels_cultivation_drive_20130205_03

Centre for Environmental Justice. News lettere MAY 2014 Volume 1 Issue 5. Land Grabbing in Wilpattu To Sannar Act of Ministry of Economic Development (accessed 13/04/2015)
http://ejustice.lk/news-letters/news-letter/Ejustice%20vol%201%20issue%205%20May%202014.pdf

[6] Online article on Ground Views (09/19/2013). State Facilitated Colonization of Northern Sri Lanka. By WATCHDOG (accessed 13/04/2015)
http://groundviews.org/2013/09/19/state-facilitated-colonization-of-northern-sri-lanka-2013/

Other documents

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Immagine.jpg

https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Immagine2.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Centre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)
Last update20/07/2015

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