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Half a mn trees to be felled to settle defaulted EPF, ETF and gratuity payments

2013 Jun 22

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The State Resources and Enterprise Development Ministry will fell over half a million commercially valuable trees, on State-owned estates in the hill country, to raise three billion rupees for the settlement of the EPF and ETF contributions and gratuity payments of its employees.

They were also planning to cut down 67,137 trees planted for commercial needs.  

The 3,000 employees who have to be paid their outstanding dues are attached to the Janatha Estate Development Board, Sri Lanka State Plantations Corporation and the Elkaduwa Plantation.

The State Resources and Enterprise Development Minister Dayashritha Tissera said that he would submit a Cabinet paper shortly, seeking approval to sell the Eucalyptus trees to the State Timber Corporation (STC), notwithstanding the heavy demand for the timber from the private sector.   

Among other valuable trees earmarked for felling are Mahogany, Albeesia, Sabukku, Sapu and Midella.

The Minister said that his ministry would discuss the issue with the Environment and Renewable Energy Ministry, Labour Ministry and other relevant parties before the Cabinet paper was submitted.

According to the proposed project, Tissera said, around 475,000 saplings would be planted in those areas to replace the trees to be felled.

Those trees were in a position to be removed as they were 30 to 40 years old and if they were not cut down now then their commercial value would decrease, the Minister said.

The other trees, too, would be sold to the State Timber Cooperation (STC), Tissera said.

"I want to carry out this transaction in a transparent manner and that is why I have decided to sell the trees to the STC though I can sell them to the private sector for 50 percent higher than the price offered by the STC. However, the ultimate beneficiary will be the country," he said. "After obtaining the necessary environmental authorisation, we would cut down the trees and then STC would decide the prices at which they would be sold to the public." 

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