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Sri Lankan Catholics oppose dumping garbage in wetlands

Site of a collapsed garbage mountain at Meetotamulla in Colombo, Sri Lanka. - AFP

Site of a collapsed garbage mountain at Meetotamulla in Colombo, Sri Lanka. - AFP

02/05/2017 14:51

Sri Lankan Catholics organized two protest campaigns recently against dumping garbage in Muthurajawela wetlands, the country’s largest marsh that supports myriad species of flora, fauna and birds.  Catholics held a Mass, demonstrations and discussions with government officials to raise the issue of protecting the ecological asset, 30 kilometers north of Colombo. "People are campaigning against dumping garbage at Muthurajawela wetland as it is a home to various species," said Father Dinush Gayan, assistant parish priest of St. Nicholas Church, Bopitiya.  The wetland acts as a natural hatchery, home to animals and controls floods by acting as a natural buffer zone.

"We held a Mass on April 26, two demonstrations on April 21-22, discussions with politicians, government officials and spoke to Colombo's municipal commissioner to try and stop garbage being dumped in the wetlands," said Father Gayan. "Over 150 special task force police came to control the demonstrations and throw garbage forcefully into the wetland," the priest said.  He was puzzled why government officials were allowing the wetland to be filled with garbage when it was so important.  The priest said that he explained to the Colombo municipal commissioner that the Muthurajawela wetlands were set aside as a protected area by the government. The wetland was declared a sanctuary due to its vast bio-diversity in 1996. It is situated at the most populated and economically important area of the island nation.

"Two priests, six nuns, a Buddhist monk and over 1,000 people demonstrated to protect the wetlands," said Holy Family Sister Rangika.  Catholics have been organizing the protest ever since a massive mound of garbage collapsed at Meetotamulla town near Colombo on April 14, killing 32 people and damaging homes. Eight people remain missing.  (Source: UCAN)

02/05/2017 14:51