Bandarawela town came to standstill this morning due to a hartal campaign launched to push authorities to repair a leak in a tunnel of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project.
The USD 529 million project which was constructed in 2009 carries water to the Handapanagala and Lunugamwehera Reservoirs which in turn are redistributed for drinking, irrigation and industrial purposes.
A crowd of more than 30,000 individuals led by religious leaders and local government members’ closed shops, markets and other premises in a bid to force authorities to repair the leak which they claimed threatened the safety of the entire area.
Media reports earlier reported the leak released 80 million liters of water each day for two consecutive weeks. More than 4,000 houses are said to have seen cracks on walls with some parts caving in due to the project which began in 2009.
Police said vehicular movement in the town was obstructed by protestors who have been gathered since morning. Motorists travelling to the area are requested to use alternative routes.
Meanwhile, the cabinet appointed a three member subcommittee to submit an initial report on the situation. The Committee is scheduled to make a trip to the town next week where discussions are to be held with all affected parties.
The subcommittee consists of Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Champika Ranawaka and Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa. (Darshana Sanjeewa, Thilanka Kanakarathna, Rathnam Kogulan and Nishantha Kumara)