Muthurajawela lands gazetted to curb illegal landfills – Minister

Mahinda Amaraweera

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday said issuing a Gazette notification with details of lands belonging to the Muthurajawela Wet Zone sanctuary will help curb illegal activities including landfills and garbage disposal in the area.

Amaraweera said he visited the Muthurajawela and looked into illegal activities taking place in the area. I also banned the environmental permit of an iron factory there. I also instructed a high ranking officer of the Bopitiya Police station to arrest trucks bringing scrap materials to be dumped in the Muthurajawela zone,” he said.

The Minister said a complaint was lodged also with Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne as he came to know that an officer was also involved in these illegal activities. However, no action has been taken against the officer yet, he said. The Minister held a discussion with a group of environmentalists at his ministry on Saturday. This group informed Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera that the Muthurajawela sanctuary is the heartbeat of the people in the Gampaha and Colombo districts.

They have apprised the Minister that Muthurajawela is one of the most sensitive ecological zones on which the heartbeat of the people in the Colombo and Gampaha rest. These experts who had conducted thorough research on this environmental zone, made these remarks during a discussion with the Minister on Saturday.

“We carried out a lot of research on Muthurajawela which has a long history of over 7,000 years. Muthurajawela was a vast forest about 7,000 years ago. That forest has sunk. Now trees have become a species of coal called peat which will turn into lignite coal over a geological period of time,”they said. They said that some elements are in the practice of filling this wetland sanctuary relentlessly without knowing its scientific side. Peat is a type of coal with a high temperature.This peat coal layer at Muthurajawela completely purifies the groundwater table in Colombo and Gampaha. The coal is formed from the logs of a large forest that sank 7,000 years ago. The experts said that these relentless landfills can even cause a fire in the interior of the land. If such a fire breaks out it will spread to even Puttalam.

(Source: Daily News)