The main contributory factor to the pollution of the canal was the Chemical effluents released into the canal by factories and restaurants situated on either side of the canal
Many of the fishermen’s motorboats break down while they engage in fishing due to the bottom of the canal being littered with plastic,polythene,rubber
and other non degradable waste matter
Christy Nimal Udaya
Factory owners who had set up their factories on both sides of the canal and the officers of the gov’t who implemented the laws during the expansion of this canal should mainly be held responsible for the rampant pollution
By P.H.P. Perera
It is no secret that many rivers, canals, streams and other water sources are on the verge of facing destruction due to pollution by activities
This situation is aggravated due to the silence of the authorities concerned.
The Hamilton Canal which flows between the Kelani River in the western boundary of the Gampaha District and the Negombo lagoon is facing destruction due to the unrelenting pollution arising from human activity.
The canal had been dug by the Dutch rulers in 1890 from the Kelani River estuary up to Puttalam to enable the transport of goods in horse drawn barges . It is said that the Muturajawela Marsh system was adversely affected to some extent, as a result of the construction of the canal.
However, this canal later rendered a great service as a waterway for the lagoons and provided a sea access route for the fisherfolk and there was a group of fishermen who engaged in fishing in the canal itself.
The canal was immensely helpful for the fisherfolk who lived in areas such as Kadalawala, Uswetakeyiyawa, Pettiwala, Dickowita, Palliayawatta and Elakanda.
In the same way, environmentalists and scholars who conduct research and studies on mangrove zones and lagoons, as well as wetlands, can utilize the Hamilton Canal as an access way.
However, it was saddening to witness what the villagers had to say during an observation tour made to inspect the Hamilton Canal system which consists of such a rich history.
Christy Nimal Udaya, who is a fisherman in “Sagara Sirigama” said the canal has been a source of livelihood for the people in the area for many generations.
He said many fishing boats went out to sea through the Kelani River estuary and others went fishing in the lagoon at Negombo through the canal.
“But the canal is not as clean as it used to be. Many of the fishermen’s motorboats break down while they engage in fishing due to the bottom of the canal being littered with plastic,polythene,rubber and other non degradable waste matter” he said.
“In the early days, we used to bathe in the canal but the water has turned toxic today. Catching fish, by using nets, is also very difficult because debris gets entangled in the nets,” he said.
Another fisherman who is a resident in Pulluhena, Sunil Anthony said that the main contributory factor to the pollution of the canal was the Chemical effluents released into the canal by factories and restaurants situated on either side of the canal.
Meanwhile, a social activist and an environmentalist Suresh Shanmugarajah also said that factory owners who had set up their factories on both sides of the canal and the officers of the government who implemented the laws during the expansion of this canal should mainly be held responsible for the rampant pollution.
Shanmugarajah said those who are responsible keep silent in the face of the destruction and complaints made by the people fall on deaf ears of these officers.
“Instead of implementing the law, they bend the law. In addition to the waste matter such as polythene and plastics and kerosene ,there are deposits of chemicals and industrial waste at the bottom of the canal,” he said.
“There is no mechanism to measure the extent of waste matter or finding out what they are. In the same way, there is nothing called a canal reserve, there are built-up places instead. It is nothing but a lie if the authorities say that they do not see them. It is impossible to protect the Hamilton Canal at a time when there are politicians who protect dishonest officers and environment destroyers,” he said.
However, State Minister of Tourism Promotion Arundika Fernando recently said that they would redevelop the Hamilton Canal and make it a major tourist attraction adding value to Negombo.