CEJ files a writ petition against dumping waste, Illegal reclamation & land filling and the clearing of Mangrove vegetation in the Muthurajawela Wetlands
A writ petition has been filed in the Court of Appeal by the Centre for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director Mr. Hemantha Withanage on 26th January 2021 challenging the illegal landfills and dumping of garbage in the Muthurajawela wetlands. Further, 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), there is no proper monitoring system in place.
The required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under the provisions of the National Environmental Act 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 and Flora Protection Ordinance.
Accordingly, the petitioners request from the Court of Appeal to issue an interim order restraining from filling up the Muthurajawela wetland and dumping garbage and to issue Writ of Mandamus 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 and 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 and the Hon. Attorney General are the respondents in this case. This case was mentioned on 12th February 2021 with a similar case filed by His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith bearing the number CA WRT 69/21. Mr. Priyantha Nawana, the Deputy Solicitor General appearing for the AG informed the court that another case in Supreme Court has already issued an interim order to prevent dumping garbage into the Muthurajawela wetland. The petitioners questioned whether polluting water resources, infilling wetland areas, reclamation or constructing buildings in the wetland areas are also included in that order. The AG was given time to answer the court about them and the next date is fixed for support on 30th March 2021.