CEJ Files A Court Case For The Damages In Muturajawela Wetland


Centre for Environmental Justice & its Executive Director Hemantha Withanage challenging the illegal landfills and dumping of garbage in the Muthurajawela wetlands, has filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal. Withanage said they pointed out several factories operating in and around Muthurajawela and in the vicinity of the wetland dispose their toxic waste and effluents into the protected zones.

Although some factories have been granted Environmental Protection Licenses (EPLs),he sad there is no proper monitoring system in place. The Petitioners also state that required Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) under the provisions of the National Environmental Act, as amended prior to disposing of solid waste has not been conducted and the Sanctuary and adjacent landscape is being illegally filled by several people in contravention to the provisions of Section 33(1) of the Agrarian Development Act and Section 07 of the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance.

Accordingly, the petitioners request the Court of Appeal; a To issue an interim order restraining from filling up the Muthurajawela wetland and dumping garbage.

b To clarify the legal status and demarcate the boundaries of the Sanctuary, Environmental Protection Area and the Wetland through a joint survey conducted by the Respondents and local administrators.

c To amend the Master Plan for Muthurajawela Marsh and Negombo Lagoon (1991) incorporating the necessary changes to reflect the present needs and to implement the Master Plan.

The Central Environmental Authority, Minister of Environment, Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, Director General – Department of Forest Conservation, Conservator General of Forest, Commissioner General – Department of Agrarian Services, Director General – Irrigation Department, Inspector General of Police, Divisional Secretariat – Wattala, Divisional Secretariat – Negombo, Divisional Secretariat –  Ja – Ela & the Hon. Attorney General are the respondents in this case. Withanage said that Wetlands form important habitats for rich and diverse plant and animal species which are specially adapted to survive in conditions prevalent only in wetland ecosystems.

The Muthurajawela Wetland is the largest coastal saline peat bog in Sri Lanka. Muthurajawela is a cradle of biodiversity, housing several endemic and nationally threatened species, provides an important area for migratory birds, in addition to offering a number of ecological and hydrological services. According to a study done by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Muthurajawela consists of 209 species of fauna along with 194 distinct species of flora.