The Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry signed an agreement on 26 October 2016 with China’s CAMC Engineering to bring 43,250 acres under sugarcane cultivation.
The environment impact assessment for the project allocates 70 per cent of 10,000 acres for sugarcane and 30 pc for paddy and other crops.
At present, around 200 farmer families who had returned after 25 years in 2009 following the end of the war are engaged in Chena cultivation in the area.
Illegal land acquisitions, timber and sand rackets are taking place with the support of politicians there, says environmentalist Shanika Pathirana of the Centre.
At the same time, the invaluable biodiversity in the national park is facing destruction.
Pathirana also raises the plans to construct a 1,500 km electric fence to keep wild elephants away.
Following the tarring of the Aralaganwila-Mahawila road recently, deer, leopards and other animals in the wild are getting run over by vehicles, she adds.