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Tamil unions angered by proposed outlaw of toddy extraction

Plans to outlaw the extraction of toddy from palmyra and coconut palm trees has angered unions in the North-East who say the law specifically attacks the palm wine trade in Tamil regions.

While Sri Lankan law usually states that the extraction of palm wine is prohibited except from kithul palms, palmyra trees and coconut palms, a recent gazette notification about amendments to excise duties omitted palmyra and coconut palms in the exemptions.

The ban would affect the livelihoods of over 12,000 families in the North alone according to the Palm & Coconut Resource Development Coop. The organisation's spokesperson criticised the law as an attack on an ancient Tamil trade.

Unions have highlighted that the law would leave only Tamil toddy extractors destitute, as kithul palms which are common in the South are not native to Tamil regions.