Joint committee to preserve Muthurajawela Sanctuary

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has decided to appoint a Joint Committee consisting of all relevant stake holders responsible for the conservation of the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.

The decision was taken at the Committee on Public Accounts which met in Parliament recently under the chairmanship of Prof. Tissa Vitarana.

Although Muthurajawela was gazetted as a sanctuary by the Gazette Notification No. 947/13 of 1996, the Committee pointed out that the boundaries of the sanctuary have not been demarcated thus far.

In addition, the committee inquired as to the reasons for identifying the only 1285 hectares of Muthurajawela as a sanctuary even though the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) had identified 2569 hectares as an ecosystem.

The Committee focused on the importance of protecting this wetland in line with the Ramsar Convention entered into force in Sri Lanka on 15 October 1990.

Representatives of the Muthurajawela Protection Organization also made a special presentation on the conservation of Muthurajawela.

The Committee also noted the failure of the relevant agencies to properly identify the total extent of lands in the Muthurajawela ecosystem exceeding 6000 hectares and the extent of private lands and government lands within the sanctuary.

Although a number of complaints have been received by the government institutes such as Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation, the Central Environmental Authority, the Urban Development Authority and the Agrarian Services Department regarding the illegal filling of lands belonging to the Muthurajawela Ecological Zone, the COPA has drawn the attention for not taking proper action in this regard.

In addition, the Committee expressed its views on how to overcome the weaknesses of sharing the results of biodiversity researches and surveys among all wildlife conservation agencies.

Committee Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitarana, State Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Members of Parliament Tissa Attanayake, Mohamed Muzammil, B.Y.G. Ratnasekera, Dr. Upul Galappaththi, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Dr.Harini Amarasuriya and, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Anil Jasinghe along with a group of officials and representatives of civil society organizations for the protection of Muthurajawela also participated in the meeting.

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