Writ petition filed challenging filling of lands within Muthurajawela Sanctuary

A writ petition was yesterday fixed in the Court of Appeal challenging the dumping of waste and the illegal filling of lands within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.

The petitioners, the Centre for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director Withanage Don Hemantha Ranjith Sisira Kumara filed this petition naming the Central Environmental Authority, Minister of Environment, Minister of Wild Life and Forest Conservation and nine others as respondents.

The petitioners are seeking an interim order directing the respondents to stay any further dumping of waste and the filling of lands within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.

Filing this petition through Counsel Ravindranath Dabare, the petitioners alleged that a land filling racket has been going on for years mainly due to the fact that the said sanctuary is situated at a prime location, in the close vicinity to Port City, highway, other development projects and Colombo. This illegal land filling had become a large-scale racket with the blessings of the politicians and government officials, the Petitioners mentioned.

The Petitioners further stated that it has been brought to their attention that recently an extent of approximately 50 acres within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary, situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Wawala and within the Ja-Ela Divisional Secretariat has been demarcated for reclamation by the Private Development Company that had earlier attempted to illegally acquire 406 acres from the Sanctuary for the construction of a housing scheme, with acquiescence of the Agrarian Services Department.

The Petitioners state that Muthurajawela and Negombo lagoon wetland complex is located 10 km North of Colombo in the Gampaha District, of the Western Province.

The Muthurajawela Marshes and Negombo Lagoon are two adjacent and interdependent ecological systems covering about 6000 Ha and forming one contiguous wetland. The wetland represents a large area of brackish marshes, mangrove swamps and freshwater marshes merging into an estuarine lagoon to the north-west. The lagoon opens to the sea at its northern end and receives fresh river water input from the Ja-Ela and Dadugam Oya.

The petitioners state that Muthurajawela functions as the ‘green lung’ for the metropolitan area, and should be preserved as an important landscape amenity for the present and future generations.


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