Fishing activities at the Oluvil harbour in Ampara is to be halted as the government is unable to bear the cost of maintenance, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday.
Minister Mahinda Amaraweera and ministry officials had discussed the function of the harbour after it was revealed that it did not make sufficient funds to cover its expenses.
“The harbour is a white elephant that we cannot take care of it,” the minister said.
The Oluvil harbour, a commercial fishery harbour, was declared open on September 2013. Construction of the harbour commenced in 2008 under the Nagenahira Navodaya programme.
Meanwhile, the ministry official said that proper environmental assessment and feasibility was not conducted when construction began.
While the harbour was constructed to hold more than 250 fishing boats, all boats are anchored outside the harbour as it was dangerous to enter the harbour.
“There is a large sand deposit at the mouth of the harbour. There is at least 40 million cubic metres of sand deposited in the area for which the ministry has to bear around Rs. 350 million to remove the sand only to have it collect again in two months or so,” ministry spokesman Dharma Wanninayake said.
The Ministry has scheduled a discussion with the Ports Authority, Fisheries Harbour Corporation and Coast Conservation Department about its closure as there was no benefit in leaving the harbour open.
Minister Amaraweera is scheduled to speak to the government regarding the closure of the harbour.
The harbour was also to be transferred to the Ceylon Fisheries Harbour Corporation recently from the Ports and Shipping Ministry. However, the process was cancelled after the decision to shut down fishing activities.(Darshana Sanjeewa)