BY FAADHILA THASSIM
The Court of Appeal yesterday (26) directed authorities to demarcate physical boundaries for the Muthurajawela sanctuary to control waste dumping, illegal reclamation and land filling.
Directions were issued when the Writ Petitions challenging illegal landfills and waste disposal in the Muthurajawela wetlands filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) and its Executive Director, Hemantha Withanageand the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith weretaken up.
The Writ Petitions filed by the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and the CEJ were fixed for support yesterday (26) by the Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justices Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Dhammika Ganepola on 12 July.
The CEJ requested the Court of Appeal to issue an interim order restraining the filling up of the Muthurajawela wetland and dumping garbage and to issue a Writ of Mandamus to clarify the legal status and demarcate the boundaries of the Sanctuary, Environmental Protection Area and the Wetland.
It was also stated that the report prepared by the Department of Wildlife Conservation after a field visit showed that the Muthurajawela Sanctuary has a large number of privately-owned lands and houses. It was further stated that currently, the biggest challenge to the sanctuary was the swamps being filled with decomposed waste and that the balance in these ecosystems was severely threatened as a result.
The Central Environmental Authority, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, Director General of Forest Conservation Department, Forest Conservation General, Commissioner General of Agrarian Services Department, Director General of Irrigation Department, IGP, Attorney General and three others were named as respondents to the Petition filed by the CEJ.
CEJ Senior Counsel, Ravindranath Dabare said in relation to the Motion requesting to declare the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant by filling, illegal which was also taken up before Court, the Attorney General stated that no clearing or land filling will take place before 6 August, the day fixed for the next hearing of the case.