“Make Muthurajawela a National Wildlife Park”
Environmentalists, eco-activists, representatives of civil society organizations and tourism industry experts urging authorities to end the ecological destruction of Muthurajawela, a swamp with a unique and diverse ecosystem have proposed the conversion of the sanctuary into a national wildlife park which will ensure the protection of the wetland while generating income for the state coffers through tourism.
The natural treasure is on the brink of a major ecological disaster due to the wave of destruction inflicted on the coastal wetland ecosystem by heartless elements bent only for money. “Converting the sanctuary into a national wildlife park is the only way to save the sanctuary from further destruction,” DinushaNanayakkara, prominent environmentalist and head of the Archdiocesan Committee for the Protection of Muthurajawela, told media during a visit. at the shrine conducted by the Center for Environmental Justice last week. Like-minded tourism industry experts said turning the sanctuary into a national wildlife park will not only allow the government to generate revenue from tourism, but will also help protect the park from further destruction.
“A national park with clear boundaries and laws to ensure its protection will be a major boost in ensuring the preservation of natural heritage,” said a tourism industry expert.
âThe development must be done with a minimum impact on the environment, but this is not the case in Muthurajawela. If it took less than 20 years to destroy around 700 acres, one could imagine the time frame to destroy the entire shrine, âNanayakkara said.
Muthurajawela, translated as âRoyal Treasure Marshâ, is a wetland 30 kilometers north of Colombo with a history spanning more than 700 years.
However, successive regimes had failed to preserve the rich natural heritage which is now in the hands of ruthless elements who are determined to exploit it to the fullest for monetary gain.
The daily dumping of large amounts of rubbish from Colombo, illegal constructions, intentional and malicious fires and infrastructure development under the pretext of providing facilities for those authorized to settle in the sanctuary have caused colossal damage to the Sanctuary. ecosystem now at the limit. collapse.
The marsh classified among the 12 priority wetlands of the country is home to various species, fauna and flora.
However, it won’t be long before the rich wetland disappears due to the rapid loss of habitat, water, air and sound pollution caused by the invaders.
Withered coconut palms, carcasses, felled palms and charred soil and discolored water from the old Dutch and Hamilton canals due to severe chemical contamination is what remains today of this once important sanctuary home to around 40 species of fish, 31 species of reptiles, 102 birds and 48 species of butterflies.
Religious leaders condemned the destruction but to no avail. Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has raised concerns about this during several press briefings urging officials to end the destruction of the wetland immediately.
What is also alarming is the encroachment of the land and the attachment of “No Entry” signs in various places of the sanctuary. Environmentalists have demanded the protection of Muthurajawela for the livelihood of people in the fishing industry.
Fishing is the main source of income for a large number of people who make their living from the two canals, the lifeblood of the residents. Letter from UCA News The mangroves that support the marine life of the canals and the Negombo lagoon are under serious threat in due to the clearing of the marsh.