Written by Nathasha De Alwis
21 May, 2018 | 12:42 am
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Permits that were issued for sand-mining and transportation from the Mahaweli river in the Seruvila and Muttur areas of the Trincomalee District, are currently suspended. The permits were suspended in order to facilitate a survey to identify areas suitable for sand-mining and to ascertain the amount of sand that can be mined.
If in addition to this survey, a postmortem inquiry is also carried out into the impact of sand-mining activities carried out with permits in the Seruvila and Muttur administrative divisions, authorities will be able to uncover the extent of the destruction that has been caused and those responsible for it.
In order to mine and not only from the riverbed but from the banks too, these permit holders carved roads for their tractors and machinery, across protected reserve areas. The transportation of the sand mined here has also destroyed a 10-kilometre long defensive flood barrier, which was built during the term of Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake, to protect adjacent villages from the floodwaters of the Mahaweli.
Roads constructed in the post-war era under the Nagenahira Navodaya program bringing the benefits of peace have also been reduced to ruins by the heavy vehicles which transport the sand. Incidentally, the area that has been allocated by the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau for the permit holders to use as a terminal for the mined sand, is a part of the protected reserve around the river, which also contains sand deposits.
Farmers accused the sand miners of excavating this area too in addition to the river bank and river bed, paving the way for an ecological disaster. On the night of Thursday the 17th of May, villagers in Dehiwatta, Seruvila, protested against the transportation of sand which had been mined from the terminal area.
According to area residents, as per the permits issued to the sand miners, the cargo that eventually reaches Colombo and surrounding areas, is not limited to sand. Prior to undertaking a half-hearted survey and opening the path for sand mining to resume in Seruvila and Muttur, shouldn’t the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau use the money earned from the issuing of permits to repair the damage that has been caused thus far?
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