The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has ruled out the possibility to construct a reservoir within the Sinharaja rainforest which is a natural world heritage site, an official said yesterday.
Earlier, the Irrigation Department proposed to build such a reservoir at Meegaskete in Sinharaja to the dam Gin Ganga, a river originating there, to divert water to the south-eastern parts of Sri Lanka for drinking and irrigation purposes.
UNESCO Secretary General for Sri Lanka Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte told Daily Mirror yesterday the proposed plan by the irrigation authorities was discussed with him, and he ruled out the possibility for such construction inside a world heritage site. Dr. Meegaswatte said the irrigation authorities and Minister Chamal Rajapaksa accepted his point in this regard.
In Sri Lanka, there are six UNESCO-declared cultural world heritage sites and two natural sites. Sinharaja and the central highlands are the two natural sites.
Dr. Meegaswatte said there are at least ten government bodies to look after these sites in various capacities.
A landmass of five hectares within the Sinharaja forest will be submerged if the reservoir is built. The UNESCO declared the Sinharaja as a natural heritage site in 1988.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is situated in the south-west lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. Covering an area of 8,864 hectares and ranging from an altitude of 300 – 1,170 metres, it consists of 6,092 hectares of Forest Reserve and 2,772 hectares of Proposed Forest Reserve.(Kelum Bandara)