Written by Zulfick Farzan
22 Mar, 2021 | 11:41 pm
Colombo (News 1st); The Ministry of Irrigation says the construction of agrarian tanks bordering the Sinharaja Rainforest is merely a proposal from the Gin Nilawala Diversion Project.
In a press statement issued via the Department of Government Information late on Monday (22) night, the Ministry of Irrigation said, however, the government will act responsibly towards addressing the drinking water crisis as well as protecting rainforests which are home to national water resources.
The press statement released as a clarification to Minister Chamal Rajapaksa’s recent comments on building agrarian tanks inside the Singaraja Rainforest notes that the government is committed to addressing the people’s requirements whilst respecting the agreements with UNESCO, Global Environment Bodies, and Global Environment Conventions.
It adds the government is primarily responsible for the protection of the Sinharaja Rainforest noting that the Gin – Nilwala – Kalu River Basin Project was first proposed back in 1936 to address the drinking water crisis in Matara, Hambantota and Moneragala and from 1968 to 2019 every single government carried out feasibility studies for the project to move forward.
According to the final feasibility study, project experts had proposed for the construction of 02 agrarian tanks, namely the Madugete Wewa close to the southern bank of the Gin River (located near the Madugete Village bordering the Sinharaja Rainforest) and the Ampanagala Wewa close to the Niwala River (located near the Ampanagala Villager).
The Ministry of Irrigation said the proposals were made by the experts giving priority to the bio-diversity and flora protection in the said areas.
It added that successive governments took various measures for the implementation of the project and in 2014 a 06 plan was drawn.
Minister Chamal Rajapaksa has noted that in 2019 it was observed that the Madugete Village identified in the project bordered the Sinharaja Rainforest, therefore, it was decided to seek recommendations from local environmentalists and UNESCO that declared the rainforest as a world heritage site.
According to the statement, the Ministers recent comments were on the issues faced by the people and the issues faced by the government in protecting water sources located in rainforests.
The Ministry of Irrigation adds it will not act against the recommendations of UNESCO and local bodies, adding the Department and Ministry of Irrigation have well understood the need to protecting the 11,187-hectare rainforest.
It added that for decades tanks were constructed inside national reserves with the Department of Wildlife Conservation to solve the drinking water issues of wild animals.
READ STATEMENT IN SINHALA HERE:
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