Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith together with Venerable Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thera have joined hands to speak out against a move to set up a tourism zone in Muthurajawala wetland saying this could lead to the destruction of the delicate ecology of the area.
Cardinal Ranjith told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday that the tourism zone is to include a golf court and a crocodile park .
He alleged that a private company had fraudulently taken over the some of the land in the area and put up boards claiming the land is privately owned and that around 700 acres of land has been already filled.
“ The land belongs to Forest Department, but the sign board of the department have been removed and replaced with a new one saying private land,” he said.
Venerable Pahiyangala Ananda Thera said the project had actually begun two years ago. “The land is being currently filled in the guise of it being land given for disposing of solid waste and waste from the Colombo Municipal Council is also being dumped here," he said.
They explained that the Muthurajawela wetlands comprises 78 species of fish,14 species of reptiles and 83 bird species and they will face extinction if this project goes ahead.
“The filling of the wetland will have a negative effect to Damdugama Oya which is connected to Negombo lagoon. Wet land is actually a breeding grounds for fish which ends up at the Negombo lagoon. Accordingly, those who are engaged in fishing in the lagoon will also lose their livelihood,” they said.
They added that a move to fill the wetland in 1991 was thwarted due to protests .