Negombo lagoon under threat | Sunday Observer

Negombo lagoon under threat

4 April, 2021
The Negombo lagoon
The Negombo lagoon

Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure State Minister Nimal Lanza said that the Negombo lagoon has been facing environmental problems due to the suspension of the Negombo Lagoon Development Project for nearly two years.

The addition of polythene, plastic, abrasives and silt to the Negombo lagoon is damaging its biodiversity and beauty. Permission has been sought from the Forest Department several times to clean the lagoon to protect the ecological balance, but many environmental problems have arisen in the lagoon due to the lack of permission.

He said, “It is a problem that the officials do not give recommendations to clean the Negombo lagoon which has valuable environmental factors.

At a time when there is a growing perception in Sri Lanka to protect the environment, it is questionable on what agenda the efforts to clean the lagoon environment and preserve the beauty of the lagoon are being thwarted.”

State Minister Lanza said for nearly two years, the environmental problem has been exacerbated by the tug-of-war of some officials. Due to this, the solution to the environmental problem and the livelihood problems faced by the fishing community has been delayed.

He said, “As a Government, we have a responsibility to protect the sensitive environment and to address the problems of the fishing community.

It is problematic that the District Forest Officer did not give the recommendation to clean the lagoon, except to permit the work agreed upon in the judicial process to be carried out in such a manner.”

He said the livelihoods of nearly 5,000 fishing families in the lagoon have been affected.

“If nearly 20,000 people, who depend on it, try to fulfill their right to satisfy their hunger through various anti-social factors, it will be a big social problem.

It is also problematic to direct them to other jobs as they are traditionally engaged in fishing.

The State Minister said it is important for the fishing community to clean the lagoon so that they can develop their livelihoods by increasing fish production, including prawn and crab yields.

The solution to the problem of the fishing community has been delayed due to the tug-of-war by various parties.

The call to clean a sensitive ecosystem that has been harmed by pollution and to secure the jobs of 5,000 fishing families, are reasonable.

State Minister Lanza said Sri Lanka is rich in biodiversity. Such an ecosystem is being destroyed.

Biodiversity balances the ecosystem. Coastal, lagoon and marine ecosystems are of great biological importance.

Lagoon dirt deposits of polythene and non-perishable materials affect the environment where plants and animals grow.

Such an ecosystem serves as a breeding ground for fish and marine species. Clearing the lagoon creates an environment to the growth of plants, such as mangroves. This protects the land and minimises the chances of erosion.

State Minister Lanza said problems arising from the disposal of soil removed under the lagoon development project implemented during the Good Governance Government were settled by court.