Centre for Environmental Justice started Colombo Wetland conservation project with the support of GEF/SGP project of the UNDP. According to the sources not more that 2000 Ha are now available as wetlands. They too face severe threats due to the development, encroachment, waste dumping etc.
Muthurajawela is the largest wetland located in the border of the city of Colombo. It has now become the waste dumping ground for the capital. The encroachment for the new development by the government and the private owners are destroying the last remaining wetland ecosystem located between Colombo and Negombo.
The Colombo urban wetlands have been playing a very critical role including flood retention, urban cooling, providing habitats for remaining animal and birds, regulating the ground water table and maintaining the scenic beauty etc.
In 2009 CEJ filed a law suit seeking a wetland management policy an action plan. This was soon after the major flooding in Colombo which even flooded the Parliamentary complex. We had to withdrew the case when the Government submitted a Rs. 1000 million project. But it didn’t save the Colombo wetland system.
Today wetlands are facing extinction due to haphazard development. We even had ministers who believe that wetlands are not important for Colombo. Therefore, the future of Colombo wetlands are uncertain unless there is a strong conservation interventions.
Under this project CEJ has established over 30 vigilant committees around the wetlands. We also have roundtable meetings, National wetland conferences, Media visits etc.