He added that the area above 3,500 feet as well as the 500 m Buffer Zone comprise this area,as suggested by the UNESCO. Pallegama added that although the CEA has gazetted an area as thr Knuckles Environmental Conservation Area on July 3, 2017 under Environment Act, still there are issues. He also added that no plot of land within this area has been leased for any project.
The CEA Chairman made these observations to the media yesterday following a discussion held among related officials on the Dumbara mountain range (Knuckles range) issue at the Central Environment Authority Auditorium in Battaramulla. He said that Environment and Mahaveli Development Authority, Land and Parliamentary Reforms Ministry, Plantation Industries Ministry, Public Enterprise and Kandy City Development Ministry, Forest Conservation Department, Land Reform Commission, State Plantation Corporation Chairman Thilak Mahanama District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries also participated at the conference.
State Plantation Corporation Chairman Thilak Mahanama assured that Public Enterprise and Kandy City Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella under whom the State Plantation Corporation comes has instructed not to implement a single project within the Knuckles Forest Conservation area. He also instructed to cancel even a temporary agreement if such has been entered into for such a project. “Hence, we cancelled an agreement to grant an area of 25 acres of Midland Estate for eco-tourism,” Mahanama said.
“There are 46 project to which Cabinet approval had been granted and we would direct them before another Committee to identify if they are to be implemented within the Knuckles Mountain Forest Reserve area before they are implemented. Their suitability would also be evaluated with the assistance of the Central Environment Authority, Forest Conservation Department, the Minister and the representatives of the environment associations.” Central Environment Authority Assistant Director (Research and Development) Dr.Ajith R.Gunawardena said that some sections of Midland Estate, Kotagala Estate, Gillardsyown Estate, Hare Park Estate, Hunnasgiriya Estate, Kotagala Estate and Rangala Estate are located within the Knuckles Mountain Forest Conservation Area.