Bellanwila – Attidiya wetland Wanton destruction continues unchecked

Published : 12:05 am  October 16, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (258) reads | 

CITY-DM-15-4

 

By H.M. Dharamapala and Kusal Chamath   

Residents of the area and the environmentalists are perturbed about the wanton destruction caused to the Bellanwila – Attidiya wetland environmental zone and the bird sanctuary. They accused the authorities of allowing haphazard filling for unauthorized erections in the protected wetland environmental zone to go on unchecked.   


They pointed out that a vast area of the sensitive environmental zone had been destroyed by squatters who had  haphazardly filled the marshes that had been the abode of exotic birds. They pointed out that the bird sanctuary had turned into a dumping ground and a safe haven of gangs engaging in nefarious activities including drug addicts, twilight women and robbers. The public expressed concern about the lethargic attitude of the police environmental unit and the Wildlife Conservation Department regarding the wanton destruction and failing to provide protection to the environmental zone and the bird sanctuary which had once been a tourist attraction.   


DM-CITY-6-7A resident of the area and an environmental lover Nihal Fernando said although Sri Lanka had entered into the International “Ramsa” Convention of 1987 for the protection of wetlands, the authorities had miserably failed to comply with it. He pointed out that the sad state of the Bellanwila –Attidiya environmental zone was a clear indication of the Sri Lankan government’s failure to fulfil its responsibilities under the International Ramsa Convention.   


“We are facing a flood threat due to the haphazard filling of the marshes. We cultivated paddy in a part of the wetland with permission of the Wildlife Department but it had not caused any environmental damage to the wetland and the bird sanctuary. Now organised groups of individuals are filling the land for other purposes and erecting shanties. The marshes are being filled with tractor loads of earth brought from other areas and it has been going on unchecked. Meanwhile a vast area of the wetland and the bird sanctuary has turned into a dumping ground creating a serious health hazard. The area of the wetland has been reduced in an alarming proportion. Cultivated land and houses often go under water during heavy rain due to obstructions to the free flow of water into the marshes. The warning boards to prevent dumping of garbage have not served any purpose and large collections of garbage have been left in the bird sanctuary causing extensive environmental damage. Hundreds of unauthorised structures had been erected in the protected environmental zone and the bird sanctuary by clearing the jungle which had been the abode of exotic and endemic and migratory species of birds,” he said. 


A resident of Attidiya area Chandana Abeydeera said, “the illegal filling of canals and water courses in the protected area have been going on unchecked. In the past we earned an additional income by supplying flowers to the flower sellers at the Bellanwila sanctuary, but now no flowers could be found in the marshes.”