An unprecedented number of foreign and local tourists are visiting the historic Hamilton Canal since it was developed. The canal - which was begun during the Dutch rule of Sri Lanka’s Maritime Provinces to transport goods and completed in 1802 under the British Colonial Government - has today become a source of sustainable livelihood for many people in its vicinity. The newly-developed canal was opened to the public on the 2nd of August after being developed in an environmentfriendly manner under Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s guidance. Until then it had been a highly polluted waterway and a source of ill-health for decades. Today nearly 8,000 people visit the canal area on weekends and it has become a major attraction for foreign tourists, according to a Western Province Tourism Ministry spokesman.
The Moratuwa University’sTown Planning Studies section prepared the Hamilton Canal development plan which was implemented by the Economic Development Ministry. Under the plan’s First Stage a distance of eight kilometres from Negombo Lagoon up to Dandugum Oya river delta was developed. Under the second stage a distance of 11km is scheduled to be developed. A part of this - an extent of 3km from Hekiththa on the Kelani River in the Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha area to Elakanda has already been done.
Hamilton Canal project was launched with the objective of developing the NegomboTourism Zone. In connection with this steps have been taken to protect the rich biodiversity of the area thus protecting different species of fish, flora and fauna in and around the canal.
The Sri Lanka Lands Reclamation Corporation and Provincial Road Development Authority carried out the programme with Japanese Government Assistance.