Director, Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), Hemantha Withanage said in 2017 pollution to the environment reached its peak. “8,000 hectares of forest land is destroyed annually. In Wilpattu 3,000 hectares were destroyed through the years. Due to various development projects the environment is been destroyed. Sugar cane cultivation, banana cultivation, encroachment, resettlement and tea cultivation is also destroying the environment. The government is responsible for these constructions that are destroying the environment. No proper assessment is done on these projects prior to approval. Prior to the Uma Oya Project been approved, government officers visited the site only three times and did their assessment. The mini hydro power projects approved by the government have destroyed many waterfalls in the country. Wild animals are affected by the destruction caused to the environment,” Withanage added.
He explained that the decision taken by the government to dump the Colombo garbage in the Eluwankulama Aruwakkalu Forest came under protest by the villagers in the area in 2017. “Taking a decision to dump the Colombo garbage in the Eluwankulama Aruwakkalu Forest is not a solution to the problem. The CEJ filed a case on this issue. Cases were also filed on the Colombo Port City even though work on the site is complete. The use of plastic and polythene should be banned in 2018. There should be a proper management programme to dispose of the electronic waste in the country. The Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) where the producers of polythene have to take responsibility for the polythene that they produce and dispose of it in a responsible manner should be implemented in 2018,” Withanage said.