Attidiya Bird Sanctuary

Published : 8:18 am  April 25, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (716) reads | 

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Following are excerpts from several interviews with officials and comments from residents collected by the , regarding the issue.  

 

Once a safe haven for large flocks of local and migratory birds when it was declared open almost two years ago, the Attidiya bird sanctuary has now been transformed into a silent still space with hardly any movement.   

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The dumping of garbage collected from the residential areas around the sanctuary coupled with the chemical waste released to the lake by commercial properties in the area has made the once vibrant bird sanctuary a silent killer to many species that call it home.   
Alerted by residents in the area who complained of the stench emanating from the mounds of garbage dumped in the Lake, the Daily Mirror spoke to several local government officials regarding the situation on site only to find they were unaware of the dire situation at the sanctuary.   


A large part of the 372 acre sanctuary is covered in forests and wetlands, the remainder is made up of canals and the lake. The sanctuary is home for 166 species of birds that have been witnessed so far, with most found in the sanctuary throughout the year and at least 40 migratory birds seen during different seasons. Environmentalists have also recorded the presence of 71 species of butterflies, 44 species of fish, crocodiles, rare fishing cats and even jackals.   

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It is learnt that the only source of water for the sanctuary and the heart of its existence is the Attidiya Lake which is connected to the Dehiwela – Mount Lavinia municipality area with smaller canals connected 
towards Attidiya.   


The Daily Mirror found that dumping of garbage and releasing industrial chemicals, petroleum substances and colouring agents to the lake has led to the destruction of the sanctuary and the extinction of many of its species. Officials said that many factories had released the substances to the lake undercover of rain.  Residents also said that large quantities of oil like substances had been released to the lake during the previous monsoon. However, a large quantity of the oil like substance had remained in the vicinity, near the Attidiya Bridge, as there was insufficient rainfall to wash it away completely.   

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The pollution had killed a large number of fish in the Lake as well as residential birds in the area. The lack of food and water sources in the sanctuary has also led to a decrease in the number of migratory birds seen at the location.   


Residents also said that a number of construction sites on the border of the lake often made sewage lines directly to the lake. The water which was once a pristine green was now turning black with the chemical waste and garbage accumulating in 
its depths. 
Pics by H. M. Dharmapala

 

 

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I’m well aware of the matter and handled the operations in the areas. People living around the Badowita and suburban areas are responsible for the chaos. We have conducted several awareness programmes to prevent them from dumping garbage in the lake. Most of these people live in slums and uneducated and don’t change. Only around 25 per cent accepted what we said.   


Due to the current law we can impose a fine for only Rs 100,000 and I believe the law should be more stringent to prevent people from damaging the environment. We can conduct raids in collaboration with the Police Environmental Protection Unit. It is their duty to enforce the law.  


We have raised meshes at the end of the tunnels connected to the lake. But we have to remove them during the monsoon to ensure an uninterrupted water flow. However, we are putting them back during the dry season.  


I assure you that the SLLRDC has taken all necessary steps to protect the lake and the bird sanctuary within our capacity. As the public servants we are bound to do so. We will develop more strategies in future to save the nature of the lake and the surroundings.   

S P Muthumala, Deputy General Manager – SLLRDC (Drainage Reclamation Division)