Muthurajawela sanctuary to be a national park | Sunday Observer

Muthurajawela sanctuary to be a national park

25 April, 2021

Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that a Cabinet paper has already been drafted to convert the Muthurajawela Sanctuary to a National Park.

Dr. Jasinghe said that at the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana held in the Parliament complex recently. He said that a joint committee has been appointed inclusive of all parties responsible for the conservation of the Muthurajawela Sanctuary as recommended by the previous COPA meeting. The COPA Committee drew its attention to the fact that the Governor of the Western Province had passed a resolution in the Gampaha District Development Committee on January 27 stating that over 600 acres of all private lands in Muthurajawela Eco-Sensitive Zone by the Government. Its legitimacy was discussed at the committee.

COPA also drew its attention towards the complaints received by the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation, the Central Environmental Authority, the Urban Development Authority and the Department of Agrarian Development pertaining to the unauthorised filling of lands in Muthurajawela Eco-Sensitive Zone and its failure to take formal action on a number of such complaints pertaining to the said concern.

While the Auditor General directed his attention towards the complaints received regarding unauthorised constructions taking place in the Muthurajawela Wetland Zone were not properly investigated by the relevant Government agencies, he also stated that an audit inquiry is already under way regarding the recent reclamation of six hectares. It was also emphasised that in the absence of proper intervention by Government institutions, unauthorised landfills and constructions are thus being encouraged.

Attention was drawn to the process of making Colombo the world’s first wetland capital in 2018 and the presentation of data related to the survey conducted by the Urban Development Authority on the current situation in the Muthurajawela wetland and the surrounding area on the instructions of the Prime Minister also took place at the committee.

It was emphasised that 15 percent of the Muthurajawela Wetland Zone and Muthurajawela Sanctuary have been destroyed due to various reasons and the remaining areas are also at risk of being destroyed and therefore the conservation process should be initiated with immediate effect.

The Committee focused on the importance of protecting the Muthurajawela Wetland Zone as a Ramsar Wetland and its conversion into a National Park in accordance with the Ramsar Convention reached by Sri Lanka on October 15, 1990 while officials pointed out the feasibility and plan of action of the Urban Development Authority, the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation and the Department of Wildlife Conservation in working together for this purpose.

According to the Gazette notification of Muthurajawela Sanctuary No. 947/13 of 1996, the Committee was informed by the officials that the identification and demarcation of the boundaries of the Sanctuary has already commenced. The feasibility of using the Urban Development Act to strengthen the acquisition of illegal constructions and landfills in the Muthurajawela Sanctuary was also discussed.