An elephant cannot be conserved by conserving the forest only. It needs a surrounding/within a grassland where it feeds and walks. Similarly a wetland/mangrove could not be just conserved by the tree vegetation only. The open parks with water is essential for the life of the birds that brood there or visit and enjoy.
Look at the wetland below photographed by M. A. Saleem (http:// easternsrilanka. natgeotourism.com/content/sathurukondan-wetlands-and-birds-sanctuary-batticaloa/sri2bf535d6849259911). This is SATHURUKONDAN WETLANDS. This may not be there for you to see tomorrow(pictures taken on 10th September are given below) , as it is being blocked and filled by persons who claim to be the owners of the land. The Batticaloa lagoon is meters away across the lagoon and at full capacity it fills these places photographed and in every sense is a part of the lagoon at its maximum capacity.
I am not sure whether one can claim ownership to this land and even if, to my best of knowledge they could not alter the usage significantly a) that being a wetland b) that being so close to the lagoon or part of the lagoon itself. If these fundamentals are violated then we would soon not have any NATURE but only memories of it may be a few recommendations. Too wise too late is useless.
This has been a thorny issue over the past few years in the district of Batticaloa. People are trying to grab all the land possible in the district by deeds of centuries old or new ones made for conveniences. We also have to remember that those who had not been in procession of these lands for decades should not and cannot now claim for the ownerships.
Sathrukondan spreads for around 75 hectares form Pillayaradi to Thannamunai. IN the early 1990s this as actually declared by the GA as a protected area. I had the opportunity to work on these amidst the conflicts. Our names were given to the security forces who had our photos posted in the sentry points for identification. I remember my friends coming and telling me that I am wanted and the forces are searching for e with photos. We are aware of plans by UDA and Wildlife department for the conservation of the wetland, a section of it. BY the time they do it would be the sticks alone that may be there, the birds would have gone far away
We ( Meena Dharmaratnam and Jayasingam, T) published the data on the birds making 62 in number at the Sri Lankan Association for the Advancement of Science in 1993. Subsequently there had been reports of the Birds of this area by various scientists. It had been reported in the inception report of the NECCDEP programme. The students of the Eastern University visit this for their study tours. Post graduate studies have been focused on these as an urban wetland, 5 km away from Batticaloa and on the road itself.
The filling of these wetlands would cause flooding in the other shores of the lagoon viz Eachantheevu and also cause as series of other issues as these drain the waters from the higher areas and the tank above it. These waters from the entire area of higher elevation and their drainage to the lagoon woud now be blocked. IF PEOPLE are allowed to alter the landscapes at will we would never solve the flood issues.
I have reported this matter to many agencies and they seem to be shy. I was also informed that they had legal and administrative support. I consider that the peoples forum is greater and larger than any institution in the country. It is the power of the people that is vested in the government and the interest of the people therefore comes first, beyond the ownership of any person or such excuses.
The interest of the President (also the Minister of Environment) in the natural resources of the country and utilization of our natural resources have been highlighted over the past few months in the press. It is essential that we do put a stop to alteration of landscapes, before detailed study of them, if needed for national interest only. He also heads the country as the Minister for Environment.
…If we don’t do what should be done today, tomorrow may never have a chance to even know that..today would be yesterday for them…history..
I submit to the President of Sri Lanka on behalf of people of Batticaloa and Sri Lanka, to SAVE SATHURUKONDAN, where all development activities must stop immediately before the third bell goes, or it be….. GONE FOREVER.