Jun 01, 2020

Mt. Lavinia beach : Not sea erosion but creation of natural beach - CCD Featured

The erosion of the recently constructed artificial beach of Mt. Lavinia has irked the ire of many, as photos of the eroded beach made rounds on social media.

The said stretch of beach was included in a Rs.890 million worth beach nourishment project and operations commenced at the onset of the curfew.

800,000 cubic metres of offshore sand

Although the proposal was submitted in 2018, it was approved by the incumbent cabinet. The Calido beach in Kalutara and Ratmalana/Angulana beaches too were included in the project.  

Speaking to media in late April, Director-General of the Coast Conservation Department (CCD) - Prabath Chandrakeerthi said that the EIA for the borrowing pits has been obtained to get offshore sand and 800,000 cubic metres of sand will be obtained from the borrowing pits for the projects.

He elaborated that 300,000 metre cubes of sand will be used for the Calido beach area in Kalutara while  350,000  and  150,000  cubic metres will be used for the areas of Rathmalana-Angulana and Mt. Lavinia respectively.

He had also said the results reaped through this project would remain up to at least five years.

90m washed away?However, with the adverse weather conditions in the last few weeks, the beach at Mount. Lavinia underwent heavy erosion with much of the artificially filled sand washed back into the sea.

Authorities were heavily criticized by netizens over the apparent waste of taxpayer money.

Former ministers Sajith Premadasa and Harsha de Silva also criticized the use of funds for such projects instead of prioritizing the prioritize people amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The project has drawn heavy concern from environmentalists as well.

Environmental impact

Speaking to media, environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara had said in late April that the project is not sustainable as it would damage the environment, and would have to be done frequently at a huge financial cost.

He had also noted that the sand is mined from areas where there is a large amount of wildlife.

Meanwhile, Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director at Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) claimed that a fresh Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not done for the project.

“There was no new EIA done for the project. They are continuing work based on an EIA done in 2014 for which they have gotten an extension in 2017. The area that comes under the purview of CCD is between 300 metres from high tide level towards the land and 2 km from low tide level towards the sea. Any activity that happens beyond this area comes under the purview of the CEA," he adds.

He further warned that if the reef is damaged in anyway, currents will reach 15-20 km towards the interior in the event of another tsunami.

Meanwhile, Muditha Katuwawala, the coordinator for the conservation organisation - The Pearl Protectors, have also echoed Mr. Withanage's sentiments.

“A long term beach nourishment project is supposed to last 8-10 years... This project failed since it didn’t have a proper plan. There was no EIA done and the DG has been vague in his explanations from the beginning. It is mandatory to do an EIA and open it for a public hearing for 30 days," he has said.

Not erosion, beach created naturally

Following the wave of intense criticism and concern over the weekend, the CCD DG - Prabath Chandrakeerthi has said that the washing away of the artificially filled sand was not sea erosion buta method adopted in creating artificial beaches using natural forces.

“When filling the Mount Lavinia sea area with sand we used a new technique called the ‘Sand Engine Method’... Now, the monsoon is started and with the strength of the sea waves, the sand is now being washed towards Wellawatte beach area to create the beach naturally,” Mr Chandrakeerthi has said.

(Source : Dailymirror.lk)