Polluted for over 30 years:
Wystvyke canal adopted by Netherlands Embassy
The polluted canal
Pic: Nissanka Wijerathne
The Wystvyke canal in Crow Island, Mattakkuliya was officially
adopted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Sri Lanka on
May 7. The decision to adopt was made after accepting a project proposal
submitted by the Sea Breeze Welfare Society, an organisation which was
formed with the participation of some of the dwellers around the canal.
"I have been using the canal to dump garbage'', said a dweller whose
fenceless backyard opens up to the canal.
"The water is black and very unclean and it has been in this
condition for about 30 years now, so I got into the habit of dumping my
garbage here. But the smell caused by the pollution is unbearable now
and is felt by everyone residing around the canal.
I am prepared to stop it but some of the drainage from the apartment
around here is disposed to the canal directly.
I am puzzled how that can be stopped. It is worse during rainy days
and it has the tendency to overflow", he said.
The polluted canal poses some wider threats too, it seems that water
and air pollution is not the only concern facing the residents of Crow
Island. Another dweller in the vicinity said "The garbage attracts Water
monitors and snakes. This is very dangerous and these animals often come
out of the canal closer to my neighbourhood where children play. Night
times are worse because the dogs in the area bark endlessly until the
Water monitors go back to the canal. This disturbs our sleep as we wake
up thinking they are barking after seeing a thief but then learn it is
trying to chase away Water monitors", she said.
"This is a classic example of a neglected canal", said Ambassador
Leoni Cuelenaere who was the chief guest at the event which marked the
opening of the clean-up project. "The canal is two metres deep and two
and a half kilometres long and was built by the Dutch 300 years ago. The
adoption marks a new phase of ties between Sri Lanka and the
Netherlands. We will fund the complete cleaning up of the canal and
later focus on capacity building around the area.
One of our main objectives of adopting the canal is to ensure that we
create sufficient awareness about the need for conservation especially
as the eco-system is playing havoc all over the world and we will be
worse off if such conservation projects are not funded", said
Cuelenaere. Secretary of the Sea Breeze Garden Welfare Society, C.A.
Wijeweera told the Sunday Observer that they approached many authorities
over the past few years before approaching the Embassy to fund cleaning
up of the canal after becoming aware that it was built by the Dutch.
"The property value around Crow Island dropped significantly after the
Tsunami but it restabilised after a while. However, the low value
continued around the canal's vicinity as potential buyers knew that the
canal was a severe inconvenience", he said.