Mar 23, 2021

Tanks in Sinharaja : Chamal talks in parliament while environmentalists write to UNESCO

Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa today (23) told Parliament there is a plan to construct an agrarian tank spanning five acres in a less populated area located in the lower area of the Gin River.

“This is only a plan and we will seek approval from UNESCO and ask them to conduct a study to ascertain if it will cause massive damage to the area,” said the Minister.

“If we fail to proceed, we will not be able to solve the drinking water issue and the flooding caused by the overflowing of these rivers,” said the Minister.

The Minister said his comment on the matter was portrayed by the media as if a tank was to be constructed at the heart of the Sinharaja Rainforest.

Water project

The issue remained a hot topic through the weekend after the minister said on Saturday (20) that the government has planned on a project to construct two irrigation tanks inside the Sinharaja Rainforest to provide clean water to Hambantota in the far south.

Each irrigation tank will span across five acres inside the rainforest, said the Minister adding for the five acres lost in Sinharaja a 100-acre forest will be grown at a separate location.

He also said the project was awarded to a Chinese company that prepared the plans, however, the project was stalled over the past five years.

The minister said the payment was made to the Chinese company and the state had taken the necessary steps to implement that project.

Environmentalists write to UNESCO

Meanwhile, the Center for Environment and Nature Studies has called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to urge the Sri Lankan government to stop any attempt on destroying the Sinharaja Rainforest, which is a world heritage site.

In a letter to UNESCO penned by Environmentalist Raveendra Kariyawasam, CENS stressed the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the last primary rainforest in Sri Lanka and has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve and declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It adds that constructing ‘Two Reservoirs’ in the rainforest and a UNESCO World Heritage site is not only unacceptable but is also a crime against nature which will pose numerous threats to the rich biodiversity of Sinharaja – which is home to 60 percent of the country’s endemic flora and fauna.

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