CA directs AG to get instructions | Daily News
Alleged Muthurajawela constructions:

CA directs AG to get instructions

The Court of Appeal yesterday directed the Attorney General to get instructions from the respondent parties and report to Court on March 9 regarding alleged illegal constructions and filling of lands within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary. The Court of Appeal two-judge-Bench comprising Justice (President) Arjuna Obeysekera and Justice Mayadunna Corea made this direction pursuant to writ petitions filed by

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and the Centre for Environmental Justice.

President’s Counsel Shamil Perera appearing for Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith moved Court to issue an Interim Order since illegal constructions and filling of lands are continuously taking place within the sanctuary.

However, Additional Solicitor General Priyantha Nawana appearing for the Attorney General told court that the Supreme Court has already issued an order preventing the authorities from dumping garbage in the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.

Shamil Perera PC submitted to the court that the order made by the Supreme Court was to prevent dumping of garbage. He said this matter relates to a wide range of issues including illegal constructions, filling of lands and destruction of the environment.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General sought further time to get instructions from the respondent parties and thereby the two petitions were fixed for support on March 30.

President’s Counsel Shamil Perera with Counsel Duthika Perera under the instructions of Counsel Sandun Nagahawatta appeared for Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

In their petition, the Centre for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director Withanage Don Hemantha Ranjith Sisira Kumara named the Central Environmental Authority, Minister of Environment, Minister of Wild Life and Forest Conservation and nine others as respondents.

The petitioners are seeking an Interim Order directing the respondents to stay any further dumping of waste and the filling of lands within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.

Filing this petition through Counsel Ravindranath Dabare, the petitioners alleged that a land filling racket has been going on for years mainly due to the fact that the said sanctuary is situated at a prime location, close to the Port City, highway, other development projects and Colombo City. This illegal land reclamation had become a large-scale racket with the blessings of certain politicians and Government officials.

Petitioners further state that it has been brought to their attention that recently an extent of approximately 50 acres within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary, situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Wawala and within the Ja-Ela Divisional Secretariat has been demarcated for reclamation by a private development company that had earlier attempted to illegally acquire 406 acres from the Sanctuary for the construction of a housing scheme, with the acquiescence of the Agrarian Services Department.

The petitioners state that Muthurajawela and the Negombo Lagoon Wetland Complex are located 10km North of Colombo in the Gampaha District of the Western Province. The Muthurajawela Marshes and Negombo Lagoon are two adjacent and interdependent ecological systems covering about 6,000 Ha and forming one contiguous Wetland. The Wetland represents a large area of brackish marshes, mangrove swamps and freshwater marshes merging into an estuarine lagoon to the North-West. The lagoon opens to the sea at its Northern end and receives fresh river water input from the Ja-Ela and Dadugam Oya.

The petitioners state that Muthurajawela functions as the ‘Green Lung’ for the metropolitan area, and should be preserved as an important landscape amenity for present and future generations.