Illegal sand mining continues in East with Colombo backing
Sri Lankan presidential sibling and ‘development’ minister Basil Rajapaksa, through an officer working in the Geological Unit of the District Secretariat of Batticaloa, has given permit to a Sinhala businessman N.T.I.Tilakaretna, a Sinhalese. The move was also backed by the Sri Lankan Government Agent in Batticaloa, according to civil sources at the Batticaloa District Secretariat. Tilakaretna has been allowing tractors to remove sand from the river after obtaining 2,000 rupees per tractor. Ten percent of the money goes to Basil Rajapakse and 5 percent is being given to the Officer-in-Charge of the SLA army camp at Mu’rakkoddaagn-cheanai, the sources further said.
Mr. Tilakaretna is married to a Tamil woman in Mu’rakkoddaagn-cheanai.
Divisional Secretariat officials say that there was no evidence to show that Tilakaretna had been residing in the village.
Amid decision taken at the District Development Coordinating Committee meeting presided by the Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan and Deputy Minister Mr.M.L.A.M.Hisbullah last year to impose a total ban on removing sand from Santhanamadu River, sand mining in the river continues unabated due to the influence of paramilitary groups and the occupying Sri Lanka Army.