The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is to consider at its next meeting the Sri Lanka government’s request to construct a reservoir covering a landmass of five hectares within the Sinharaja forest to be used as a source for a drinking water project to be implemented for the benefit of people living in the south -eastern part of the country, an official said.
Irrigation Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake said the Irrigation Department and the Ministry would carry out the project only after an analysis based on environmental, technological and geographical factors, and obtaining approval from the relevant international agencies.
In a detailed response to the allegations surrounding the project, he said a project for the diversion of excess water of Gin and Nilwala rivers for the use of people in the dry south-eastern part of Sri Lanka had been in the pipeline for over a century.
Asserting that 80% of the water from these two rivers are discharged wastefully into the Indian Ocean. He said such water could have been used for drinking and irrigation purposes of the people in the districts such as Hambantota and Moneragala.
A proposal in this regard had been submitted to the British colonial government in 1987 first. Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe who represented the State Council in 1936 had presented a proposal to dam the upper segment of the Nilwala River to divert water for a multi-purpose project.
An American firm has been consulted in 1968 by the then government for a project to channel the waters of Kalu, Gin and Nilawala rivers for the benefit of people in the same areas. (Kelum Bandara)