The Minister of Plantations, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana stated that immediate steps will be taken to stop the felling of coconut trees and accordingly, the coconut tree will be included in Felling of Trees (Control) Act.
The Minister said so while responding to a question raised by MPs Hector Appuhamy and Upul Mahendra Rajapaksa at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Plantation held recently.
MP Hector Appuhamy, pointed out that businessmen remove coconut trees before dividing them up, especially when selling lands, and that investigators come and inspect these lands and name them as lands without coconut trees. He further pointed out that a fraud is taking place in this regard.
Also, MP Madura Vithanage, commented on non-receipt of dividends due to the government from Gal Oya Plantation Company. He said that a large number of irregularities had taken place especially in obtaining money at high interest rates and paying salaries for the staff members and that legal action should be taken in this regard.
State Minister Janaka Wakkumbura stated that the Ministry has already been instructed to conduct an audit in this regard. Minister Ramesh Pathirana further stated that it is being observed that a misuse of state resources has taken place in this regard and it is necessary to investigate this matter.
Discussions were also held regarding the reopening of the Kantale Sugar Factory and the allocation of lands to the persons currently residing in these lands. Discussions also focused on the development of palmyrah and date palm cultivation in the Northern Province, the development of the toddy industry in the Northern Province, the reduction of Palm oil cultivation and the increasing subsidies to tea smallholders.
State Ministers Arundika Fernando, and Kanaka Herath, MPs Udayana Kiridiyagoda, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Shantha Bandara, Samanpriya Herath, Sampath Athukorala, Manjula Dissanayake, Muditha de Zoysa, Velu Kumar, Charles Nirmalanathan and Rajika Wickramasinghe were also present at the meeting.