Muthurajawela wetlands is the largest saline coastal peat bog in Sri Lanka, and is situated in the southern region of the Negombo lagoon and located 30 kilometers north of Colombo . The marshes spread over 3,068 hectares and is a hotspot for tourists and locals for bird-watching, sightseeing and boating tours .
In 1996, the northern part of the marsh that covers over 1,777 hectares was declared a wetland sanctuary under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO) . According to several sources, governmental agencies in Sri-lanka provided permission for temporary dumping in 2017, but the area has now turned into a permanent dumping site . Protests in 2017 urged the government to stop the illegal dumping in the Muthurajawela marsh .
Locals and other members of the community have pointed out the disregard for the environment by the Colombo Municipal Council and other governmental agencies . Around 60 lorries from the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) take garbage to the Muthurajawela sanctuary every day . 40 lorries coming from Kelaniya and Gamapaha region were also being deposited in the sanctuary . The Pilapitiya paddy field which is now known as the Ambalammulla garbage dump, is located within the Muthurajawela wetland ecosystem . This site has been used as a garbage dumping site for solid waste by the Katunayake-Seeduwa Urban Council for over 20 years .
Furthermore, several factories operating in and around Muthurajawela and in the vicinity of the wetland have been releasing toxic waste and effluents into the protected zones . Some of these factories have received Environmental Protection Licenses, but the lack off monitoring and accountability allow for these factories to continue to generate harmful pollutants into the Muthurajawela wetland .
In order for waste to be deposited in an area, there must first be a formal Environmental Impact Assessment conducted under the National Environmental Act . The illegal dumping within the area violated Section 33  of the Agrarian Development Act and Section 7 of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance . Internationally generated waste has also been deposited in Muthurajawela wetlands . The waste disposed in the wetland area isn’t limited to general waste but also hospital waste coming from Colombo General Hospital . Waste that is incinerated and burnt is disposed off in the waterways inside Muthurajawela and is passed on to the Hamilton Canal which finally ends up in the sea .
Local fisherman are also being affected by the waste dumping because of the increasing rates of dying fish within the lagoon . Surface water samples and ground water samples taken from several locations in the Muthurajawela wetland found high concentrations of nitrates, sulphates, phosphates, calcium and magnesium levels which were exceeding the standard permissible levels . The pungent smell generated by the waste has also raised serious concerns amongst residents as well .
According to Athukorala , waste dumping is not the only illegal activity that is occurring in the Muthurajawela wetlands. An article by Nizam  states that the activities in the wetland areas have resulted in the loss of over 1,864 hectares. Illegal settlements, illegal fishing and illegal clearing of trees within the wetland are also occurring . At this time (May 2021) further investigations into these issues are being conducted.