Dead end for Sinharaja road

16 September 2011 01:08 am - 27     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The construction of a controversial road cutting through a section of the Sinharaja Forest – a world heritage site and the only primary rain forest in Sri Lanka  was suspended yesterday amid protests by environmental activists and forestry officials.

Environment Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the construction work on the roadway had been suspended because it disturbed the environmental and eco system balance of the pristine Sinharaja Forest which comes under the Forest Department.

Environmental activists and Forest Conservation Department (FCD) officials threatened to take legal action if the construction work went ahead on the road across the Sinharaja forest reserve.

“Minister Yapa is of the view that the road development across the protected forest range would damage the bio-diversity and natural habitat and therefore gave instructions to suspend it with immediate effect,” a ministry spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Imbulkanda Mihindutala Monastry Chief Incumbent Wiharahene Dhammasiddhi Thera  who leads the campaign for the road construction said the road that stretched from Imbulkanda to Suriyakanda did not belong to the Forest Conservation Department though the department claimed that the area was its property.

‘We have used this road for ages to walk to Suriyakanda via Bambumale and Baragala. This is the only road the inhabitants of this area had to travel to and from Bambumale and Suriyakanda. Besides, the land belongs to the Land Reforms Commission (LRC),” the Thera said and added that the backwardness of Imbulkanda and other villages would disappear if and when the new seven-kilometer road was constructed as proposed.

However, the ministry spokesman said the minister as the then Plantation Industries Minister had submitted a cabinet paper in 2004 to vest the lands around Sinharaja in the LRC but it was recently that the lands were vested with the LRC.

The minister had also instructed the Conservator General of Forests to speed up the taking over process and prepare the necessary Cabinet Paper.

Meanwhile, cabinet spokesman Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana at yesterday’s weekly news briefing took  a completely different view when he stressed that the alleged road construction was not taking place across Sinharaja forest or the lands that came under the Sinharaja forest range.

He reiterated that the construction of the proposed 20-foot wide road had been approved at the Development Committee Meeting of the Kalawana Pradeshiya Sabha on the request of the residents there. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)

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  Comments - 27

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  • rifaas Friday, 16 September 2011 04:35 AM

    Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) is a primary requirement for any project in Sri Lanka. I can't imagine a development project in Sinharaja rain forest without EIA.

    sltk2004k Friday, 16 September 2011 04:51 AM

    I don't think the number of people in these small villages are many. But the value of this forest is far greater than providing the road for these people. We may have re-located larger number of people than this for other projects (highways etc). So, if transportation is a major issue for these people, it would be good to re-locate them to places with more transportation facilities, than to destroy the forest.

    zEUS Friday, 16 September 2011 04:45 AM

    Land belongs to Forest dpet: or not, if constructions disturb nature that's that, there no say over it. It seems certain groups are interested in other goals than protecting a world heritage !

    PresiDunce Bean Friday, 16 September 2011 05:05 AM

    Commissions...Massive kick backs...Bribes...

    Ryan Friday, 16 September 2011 05:26 AM

    What consequences? let these village people enjoy their life. You guys in Colombo preach all the bana. Those villagers are experiencing the pain.

    nawala nihal Friday, 16 September 2011 05:39 AM

    during the colonial era the railway track took a turn behind the galle face hotel to avoid the galle face green which was made for ladies and families to enjoy the evenings...one cannot imagine how our narrow minded politicians trying to destroy national assets...

    Manujer Friday, 16 September 2011 05:41 AM

    Well done environmental activists. What about the killing of protected wild animals ?

    Patriot Friday, 16 September 2011 05:37 AM

    Putting a roda through Sinharaja was a harebrained idea to being with... at least now they have realised it...

    silva Friday, 16 September 2011 06:37 AM

    These are national treasures owned by the people of Sri Lanka, and should not be raped and plundered by corrupt politicians and their henchmen.

    Imran Hussein Friday, 16 September 2011 06:54 AM

    Lalin/Ajantha - Although you have said 100% truth stil you have got some thunps down. Doesnt that mean still there are few super idiots support any atrocity carried out in this country.
    Cutting a road thru this rare rainforest is a crime. In fact capital punishment should be given.

    Shace Friday, 16 September 2011 06:57 AM

    Simple all valuable trees are cut and sold. That was the main motive of some corrupt government officials and it's not about road!!damage is already done...

    hansan Friday, 16 September 2011 07:32 AM

    It's better late than never to stop the damage to our Haritage. When the damage is done we will not find the Thero or the Vilegers who wanted it. Thero should have better things to do to the Vilegers than this.

    Joseph Fernando Friday, 16 September 2011 08:56 AM

    It is a very valuable area the Sinharara Forest.Yes it is a national asset and should not be destroyed at any cost.I am glad that the minister has realised even at this stage what a valuable pristine bio diverse forest which Sri Lanka has, full of natural insects and animal.No other country has such beautiful bio-diverse rain forest.It must be protected at any cost.

    deva Friday, 16 September 2011 08:57 AM

    Don't blame RDA for decisions imposed from above.

    Iver Friday, 16 September 2011 09:06 AM

    The project was suspended after the damage was done and after they took what they want....They already destroyed the bio diversity and now due to the external pressure, everyone panicked and taking nonsense to mere satisfy the majority of fools living in this wonderland....Wait and see, within another few days time, authorities will tell that this project was fabricated as if we started and ultimately, they would say that they had no idea who started this project to save their asses.....

    Iver Friday, 16 September 2011 09:06 AM

    The project was suspended after the damage was done and after they took what they want....They already destroyed the bio diversity and now due to the external pressure, everyone panicked and taking nonsense to mere satisfy the majority of fools living in this wonderland....Wait and see, within another few days time, authorities will tell that this project was fabricated as if we started and ultimately, they would say that they had no idea who started this project to save their asses.....

    Ajantha Dissanayake Friday, 16 September 2011 09:16 AM

    Have you heard about the Environmental System concept in botany. If not please read about it.

    Dilsiri Welikala Friday, 16 September 2011 09:42 AM

    I know a few who lobbied to stop this! Well done guys. Hats off to you who braved the storm, risk lives and stood up for what is right. You make me proud boys in Galle!

    Rajitha Seneviratne Friday, 16 September 2011 09:41 AM

    Good, we can do without the road and we can never get back a primamry rain forest once destroyed. These people dont know that it the only one in South Asia and an asset to any nation. A road across will be the first step and eventually settlements will develop and gone forever. I was in the Amazon in 1998 and saw for myself such a project and what damage it had caused but Amazon is so huge the effect is minimal and this the only rain forest we can compare with the Amazon.

    Siripala & Ranmenika Friday, 16 September 2011 09:49 AM

    This tragedy would have happened due to an decision of an uneducated and idiotic politician, who have not gone to school and have leant nothing sensible even the basic common sense. These people will lead us to nowhere.

    P.L.J.B.Palipana Friday, 16 September 2011 01:45 AM

    The RDA(Roads Development Authority) should be given capital punishment for this criminal act.

    Kolitha Friday, 16 September 2011 02:03 AM

    DM..Please brave enough to expose the people who are behind this projects...

    sam fernando Friday, 16 September 2011 02:22 AM

    It is amusing how this minister always makes a strong statement on something and when the government has to reverse its decision due to opposition, he makes another strong statement on the new decision made and denies what he or the government said earlier.

    lankaman Friday, 16 September 2011 03:22 AM

    if we just say "development" blindly, and move ahead without due concern for nature, doom may not be far away in the form of droughts, floods, earthquakes and disease. We need to develop and still retain a green and natural environment to live in

    Lalin Mendis Friday, 16 September 2011 03:17 AM

    this is a national asset, this should be protected at whatever cost. otherwise ppl could proch it and cut valuable trees and sell.

    Hector Friday, 16 September 2011 03:37 AM

    Why was it started in the first place without an Environment Impact assessment ? Another instance of disregard for civilised procedures to be followed and government arrogance!! The law does not apply!

    Ajantha Dissanayake Friday, 16 September 2011 04:13 AM

    Why couldn’t you understand the consequences of it before the start of the project?


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