Negombo residents protest demanding permission to construct playground

Negombo residents protest demanding permission to construct playground

Negombo residents protest demanding permission to construct playground

Written by Staff Writer

13 Feb, 2020 | 9:41 pm

Colombo (News 1st): Residents of Munnakkara in Negombo staged a protest today demanding to permit the construction of a playground on an island that has a high density of mangroves in the area.

The Munnakkara Fisheries Association in August 2018 had requested the Wildlife Conservation Department to permit the construction of a volleyball court on the island. However, the Wildlife Conservation Department had rejected the request after considering the dangers it could pose to the mangrove plants.

This matter had resurfaced during a political meeting this Monday (Feb 10).

Residents claim that the mangroves on Queen’s Island have already been destroyed as a result of the Negombo Lagoon Development Project despite not granting permission to construct a playground.

Policy & Advocacy Campaign Officer at the Centre for Environmental Justice Janaka Withanage noted that this has been done by violating the laws of the Department of Coast Conservation. He noted that this island is located 300 metres from the land and reclamation has taken place without any environmental assessment. By today, he stated that several mangroves have been destroyed, cut and thrown off. He stressed that it had been done meticulously.

It is an accepted fact that mangrove plants should be protected. During a meeting held on Monday (Feb 10), the Gampaha District Forest Officer had highlighted that it is the responsibility of the country’s citizens to support such efforts.

Several politicians responded to the state officials response.

State Minister Vidura Wickremenayake noted that after a long time he senses a feeling of pride. He noted that they saw the struggle displayed by the Wildlife officer to protect the environment. He stressed that such officers should receive national respect. He stated that a state officer’s loyalty towards a party should not be based on an individual but on the constitution.

He requested the officials to consider the wildlife officer as an example. The State Minister noted that she is currently facing a backlash from the people and the politicians. He said that it is amidst such pressure that she is determined to protect the environment.

Speaking regarding the incident Minister Wimal Weerawansa noted that under the previous government, attempts had been made to construct a playground in that environment which has a high density of mangrove plants. He noted that maybe, the officers who were serving under the former government couldn’t have objected to such illegal activities. He said that if such activities had been opposed and halted, then the current minister will not have to discuss these projects.

State Minister Lakshaman Yapa Abeywardene also commenting regarding the incident noted that one thing he noticed is that the residents attempted to influence the minister with regard to the construction of the playground. He said the minister might have thought on their behalf as he is the people’s representative, however, the problem is not that. He said the manner in which that officer had conducted herself is fair.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana also commented on the incident;

“The government, President, Prime Minister and the Cabinet stand by the officer. If an officer is implementing the law for the benefit of the country and the national economy and not for personal reasons, then we should protect that officer. State officers don’t vote for the UNP anymore. This is because these officers starting from office assistants to ministry secretaries had been harassed at the FCID during their time.”

Meanwhile, in a tweet, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said, all of us are united in supporting the noble endeavours of Mrs Devani Jayatileka, to protect our environment.

Government service is not just any profession. Government employees are held to specified standards that are common in all government agencies, regardless of government level. A government servant who fearlessly conducts his or her duty is worthy of praise and the people’s salute.

In this light Devani Jayathilaka, an officer of the Divisional Forest Office of Gampaha, who stood up to protect the mangroves in Negombo from being destroyed in order to build a volleyball court is a genuine hero of the people.

We will highlight such selfless government servants who are truly worthy of the people’s salute.

Get in touch with us regarding government servants of similar calibre through 071 558 7788.

There are many instances where the environment was damaged as a result of irresponsible projects done through the interference of politicians.

  • The deforestation of the Sinharaja Reserve
  • A road constructed through Sinharaja, destroying the forest in the process
  • Clearing 5000 acres in the Kandakadu forest in Somawathi
  • Clearing 15,000 acres of forest for the Yaan Oya project
  • A stone quarry in the catchment zone of the Sorabora Wewa, polluting the environment
  • Close to 8000 acres of the Hambantota proposed Elephant reserve, cleared
  • Completely clearing 15 acres of the Kanthale Neelapola Track 07 Reserve
  • Clearing 3000 acres at Karukalipuram in Vavuniya
  • Clearing 400 acres of the Piduruthalagala Reserve to make way for an Apple Farm
  • Damage caused to the Ramsar certified Wetland zone in the Aanawilundawa area

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