The Samagi Jana Balawegaya has filed a Fundamental Rights Petition before the Supreme Court seeking an order to invalidate the Gazette Notification issued for the development of the Muthurajawela Wetland as an Ecologically Sensitive Zone.
The petition was filed by Parliamentarian Kavinda Jayawardena. Fourteen persons including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, State Minister Nalaka Godahewa, Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, the Director General of Wildlife, the Divisional Secretaries of Wattala, Negombo, Ja-Ela and the Attorney General have been cited as respondents.
The petitioners claim the Negombo Lagoon area in Muthurajawela is home to 300,000 people, with 5,000 of them engaged in fishing and farming activities.
The petition states the Gazette issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the 7th of October grants the Urban Development Authority power to take over land in the Muthurajawela Ecologically Sensitive Zone and develop them.
The petitioners claim the UDA does not have the power to engage in such a move, that is completed by the Department of Forest Conservation.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya alleges that once the area is designated as a wetland under the Ramsar Convention, the public will be barred from entering, which could severely impact livelihoods.
Therefore, the petitioners request the Supreme Court to rule that the decision to acquire land in Muthurajawela through an illegal Gazette Notification violates the fundamental rights ensured through the Constitution.
The petitioner also requests that an order be issued to declare the Gazette void and for an interim order to be issued to respondents to prevent further action.