The Court of Appeal today issued an order directing the Surveyor General to demarcate the physical boundaries of MuthurajawelaSanctuary.

The Court of Appeal made this order in response to writ petitions filed by Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and the Centre for Environmental Justice.

Additional Solicitor General SumathiDharmawardena, PC appearing for the Attorney General, emphasised the necessity of having physically demarcated boundaries for the Muthurajawela Sanctuary to resolve many environmental issues.

He said authorities encounter severe difficulties when discharging their duties, owing to the non-demarcation of the boundaries in the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.


Jayantha Weerasinghe PC, appearing for the 19th respondent of the petition, alleged that according to a report issued by Wildlife Department, a village consisting of several houses, had been constructed under the supervision of the Colombo Archbishop within the Muthurajawela Sanctuary.

He told Court that a person who comes before Court must come with clean hands.

Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Justice Dhammika Ganepola fixed the petitions for support on August 6.



In their petition, the Centre for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director  WithanageDon Hemantha Ranjith Sisira Kumara named Central Environmental Authority, Minister of Environment, Minister of WildLife 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 landfilling racket has been going on for years, mainly since the said sanctuary is situated at a prime location in the close vicinity to Port City,  highway, other development projects and Colombo. This illegal landfilling had become a large-scale racket with the blessings of the 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 GramaNiladhari Division of Wawala and within the Ja-Ela Divisional Secretariat has been demarcated for reclamation by a Private Development Company who 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.

Petitioners state that Muthurajawela and Negombo lagoon wetland complex is located 10 km North of Colombo in the Gampaha District of the Western Province.

Muthurajawela Marshes and Negombo Lagoon are two adjacent and interdependent ecological systems covering about 6000 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 Muthurajawelafunctions as the ‘green lung’ for the metropolitan area, and should be preserved as an important landscape amenity for the present and future generations.


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