Rural Roads and Other Infrastructure State Minister Nimal Lanza has threatened to resign from his post if the government does not withdraw the gazette notification empowering the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to acquire hundreds of hectares from the Muthurajawela wetlands.
Speaking at a ceremony held in Negombo on Saturday, the Minister said that he believed in people’s allegation that a certain party was trying to reverse the decision to withdraw the gazette intended to acquire the Muthurajawela wetlands.
“A committee comprising Environment Minister, Wildlife Minister, Urban Development Minister and Finance Minister decided to conserve the 1,447 hectares which had been gazetted as a wildlife and forest conservation zone in 2006 and 2008 instead of the new gazette. They decided to withdraw the new gazette. Gampaha District leader Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle and MP Nalin Fernando too have demanded the withdrawal of the gazette. It has not yet been done. The Divisional Secretaries tell us that the gazette is still in force. Therefore, I clearly state that I am not going to hold this post unless our demand is met.”
The Minister said the new gazette proposed to declare some 4,400 hectares of land in addition to the 1,447 hectares as the Muthurajawela Environment Sensitive Zone.
“We request the government to conserve at least the area of 1,447 hectares as gazetted earlier. According to the new gazette, lands used by temples, churches, and people for about 200 years will be acquired by the UDA,” he said.
Minister Lanza said that Wattala, Ja Ela, Katana and Negombo electoral development coordinating committees had passed resolutions that the gazette should be rescinded.
(Source: The Island)