Home » US $783 million mega Aloe Vera project embroils in environment issues

US $783 million mega Aloe Vera project embroils in environment issues


By: Staff Writer

March 24, Colombo (LNW): Aura Lanka Herbals (PVT) Ltd is grappling to continue a large-scale aloe plantation project  in the Rajanganaya Yaya ‘18 area amidst  environmentalists protests against t it over destroying the buffer zone of Wilpattu National Park.

This accusation has been made by environmental organizations as well as the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC). Surakimu Sri Lanka President Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thera.

They alleged that Viranjith Thambugala, Managing Director of Aura Lanka (PVT) Ltd, intends to acquire 125,000 acres in the Anuradhapura district under the guise of having an aloe vera plantation.

Leave aside the intended cultivation of aloe vera there remains a serious concern regarding the rightful ownership of the lands in the ‘18 area’ for the local populace.

Multimillion dollar mega Aloe Vera cultivation project for the export market is now entangled in legal and environmental breaching issues following allegations against local investor of the project

This incident was significant at a time where several leading environmentalists are carrying out a protest campaign demanding the government to US $ 783 million Aloe Vera cultivation project on more than 100,000 acres of land in the Anuradhapura District causing severe environmental damage.

It is expected to commence operations soon although the project has failed to obtain Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

However, according to company sources it has obtained the due approvals from relevant authorities under certain conditions.

Environmentalist Sajeeva Chamikara questioned the purpose behind this massive multimillion dollar investment and as to how Mr Thambugala has amassed such wealth.

The cabinet has approved this project on a proposal presented by then Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa and the former Minister of Lands S.M. Chandrasena handed over 66 acres of crown land to the venture promoter Aura Lanka Herbals Ltd. on a 30-year lease.

The Rajanganaya ‘18 area’ colonization scheme began in the 1960s, centred around the Rajanganaya reservoir.

Former Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike formulated the plans for it. Initially, this colonization scheme aimed to supply rice, vegetables, and fruits to the local market under the name of Rajanganaya.

However, this objective has not been realised as expected. Despite this past, Aura Lanka (PVT) Ltd is currently planning to cultivate aloe vera in the ‘18 area’ colony. Reports indicate that this aloe vera plantation is in the Wilpattu buffer zone, and licences for lands- where cultivation is to take place- have been granted to beneficiaries san the approval of the DWC.

Rajanganaya Divisional Secretary Upali Rajapaksa regarding this issue. He said, “the allocation of these lands and the commencement of aloe vera cultivation began around six years ago.

He noted that he is seeking clarification on whether these licences were granted within the wildlife zone and if aloe vera cultivation was permitted in the wildlife reserve.

Aloe vera cultivation is presently being carried out on licenced lands only; no cultivation is being done on lands without a licence. Farmers are engaged in aloe vera cultivation.

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