Wilpattu is dying and Ella on fire, what is happening to Wonder of Asia?

Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest national park, located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo), covering 110000 hectares approximately. Not only is it large in size, this National Park is home to 605 different plant species and 328 animal species and its heritage date back to the Vijaya-Kuveni era of Sri Lanka and possibly events predates this era.

Since 1938, the area of the Wilpattu National Park was expanded from time to time. According to environmentalists and nature lovers, at present around 2500 hectares of this massive National Park have been destroyed. In February 2013, upon the instructions of the Presidential Task Force, which was formed to handle the resettlement at that time, resettlement of persons in the National Park commenced. In this disastrous set-up, the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen plays the main role. He says that around 2000 families will be living in these villages adding that at present only fraction less than 50% of that number have been settled. According to the Forest Conservation Ordinance, it is illegal to construct permanent or temporary settlements, roads, and farmlands in such a forest area. Wonder of Asia got such marvelous incidents taking place.

As this continues until this date, Sri Lanka will be going down in history as the country which deliberately permitted the devastation of one of its unspoiled beauty-spots not only of tremendous ecological value but also of archaeological importance. We all will be guilty for the fact of giving away a vital natural marvel to our future generations and our mother Earth.

Meanwhile, another news headline is blustering as, the major fire which spread across the Ella Rock mountain was extinguished after a 20-hour battle, but the damage it had caused is said to be extensive. Every year, towards the end of the dry season, forest fires occur. Occasionally it is of natural causes and often it is due to human activity. At present, unfortunately, there is no monitoring system implemented to stop fires from taking place and spreading.

Ella in Sri Lanka is a small relaxed town surrounded by the beautiful greeneries of nature. It is among the topmost tourist attracted places in Sri Lanka. Take one of the most beautiful train rides from Nuwara-Eliya to Ella and fall in love with the surroundings. And now these surroundings are on flames. To protect our greatest assets, a greater effort is always required. Unless we take action today to protect Ella, we will remain only with burnt ashes of wood for our future generation.

According to the Sustainable Development Goals set by United Nations, which are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is the number 13 and Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss is the number 15 of them. Both the aforementioned goals are despoiled in the scenario of our country. These goals are set to be achieved by the year 2030. But as per the current workflow, we are running towards the other end.

Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is likely to exceed 3 degrees centigrade this century. This will cause a massive change in our climates. Most probably you may have heard your elders are complaining, this is not the raining season but floods are everywhere. This is not the dry season, but no water to be found anywhere. We are already facing the consequences of our actions to nature. Red alert is already passed by nature. If we continue to ignore it further, the date of extinction of life on earth is not far away.

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