Muthurajawela Landfill : Pressure to stop filling

Environmentalists urged the Government to immediately stop the alleged attempt to fill up the Muthurajawela wetland under the guise of development.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Environmental Conservation Trust (ECT) Executive Director Sajeewa Chamikara stressed that attempts are being made by the Agrarian Services Department to fill up a total of 50 acres of land in Muthurajawela.

He alleged that the officials of the Department have already given approval to fill up the wetland, violating the National Environmental (Amendment) Act and Antiquities (Amendment) Act.

Among the limited number of wetlands in the Western Province of Sri Lanka, the Muthurajawela Sanctuary is the largest wetland area.

It was declared a sanctuary by Gazette Notification No. 947/13 of 31 October 1996 under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. The area of the sanctuary is 1028.62 hectares. This wetland was also named one of the 41 internationally important wetlands in Sri Lanka by the Asian Wetland Inventory of 1989.

According to a study done by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Muthurajawela consists of 209 species of animals along with 194 species of trees, 40 species of fish, 31 species of reptiles, 102 species of birds, and 48 species of butterflies. In addition to that, 18 out of 22 mangrove species can also be found at the Muthurajawela wetland.

As claimed by Chamikara, a government authority cannot give permission to fill up a wetland without following the proper procedure.

“Under Section 23 of the National Environment Act No. 47 of 1980 and Gazette Notification No. 772/22 issued on 24 June 1993, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) needs to be conducted when a land area of more than 10 acres is going to be filled up,” he stressed.

Urging the Government to immediately stop the project, Chamikara said the Government should take immediate action to protect the wetland from encroachers.

– Maheesha Mudugamuwa