By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
Despite severe backlash from environmentalists, the Coast Conservation Department (CCD) reiterated that the Colombo South beach nourishment project was a success.
CCD Director General Prabath Chandrakeerthi said sediment transport happened northwards and was expected to form a 15-metre wide beach at Wellawatte as per the project design. “However, ideally, our target is anywhere between Dehiwela and Mt. Lavinia coastal belt, not Wellawatte,” he said addressing a media briefing held recently.
“Nearly Rs.110 million was allocated for the beach nourishment project at Mt. Lavinia while the total cost of the project was Rs.890 million. The project had to commence during curfew as the foreign company was given only three months to complete the project. If we had discontinued the project, we would have had to pay them Rs.200,000 for every hour the project was halted. Therefore, it was a 24-hour operation and was continued with required approval during curfew. In fact, the cost of transporting sand to the Kalutara beach was the costliest part due to the distance. The sand had to be transported from the dredging location at Ratmalana to Calido beach,” he said.
When asked about the burrowing pit, he said it came under the purview of the CCD.
Commenting on this, CCD Coastal Engineer Lilani Ruhunage said dredging was done according to the carpet dredging method with minimum impact to the environment. “Usually, dredging is done in the deep sea since sediment transport doesn’t happen there. Sediment transport only happens within the surf zone,” she said.
Environmentalists and conservationists repeatedly questioned the CCD of not obtaining an environmental impact assessment prior to the commencement of the project. However, Mr. Chandrakeerthi opines that they do not require any approval as they are carrying out development work within the designated area.
“We obtained approval from the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) since the burrowing pit is beyond our designated area. Similar projects have been done in Marawila and Unawatuna,” he said.
In response to a query on why Wellawatte was not included in the proposal presented to the Cabinet, he said they only included the three main locations and by including Mt. Lavinia beach, they actually meant the entire beach stretch.
- If SL had discontinued the project, it would have had to pay the foreign company Rs.200,000 for every hour the project was halted
- Dredging done according to the carpet dredging method with minimum impact to the environment