UNESCO will be consulted before building tanks in #Sinharaja – Chamal

UNESCO will be consulted before building tanks in #Sinharaja – Chamal

Written by Staff Writer

23 Mar, 2021 | 11:46 am

Colombo (News 1st); Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa on Tuesday (23) told Parliament there is a plan to construct an agrarian tank spanning five acres in a less populated area located in the lower area of the Gin River.

“This is only a plan and we will seek approval from UNESCO and ask them to conduct a study to ascertain if it will cause massive damage to the area,” said the Minister.

09 decades ago the Department of Irrigation prepared a plan to move water from the Kalu, Gin, and Nilwala rivers to affected areas, said Rajapaksa adding not a single government implemented this project.

Noting that the drinking water issue of the people in many areas has not been solved, the Irrigation Minister said a project proposal is to for the construction of an agrarian tank.

“If we fail to proceed, we will not be able to solve the drinking water issue and the flooding caused by the overflowing of these rivers,” said the Minister.

The Minister said his comment on the matter was portrayed by the media as if a tank was to be constructed at the heart of the Sinharaja Rainforest.

Chamal’s comments on building tanks inside Sinharaja

On Saturday (20), Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said the government has planned on a project to construct two irrigation tanks inside the Sinharaja Rainforest to provide clean water to Hambantota in the far south.

Minister of Irrigation Chamal Rajapaksa speaking in Weeraketiya said these two irrigation tanks will be constructed as part of the Gin Nilwala Diversion Project to move clean water to southern areas. (Click here for video : English / Sinhala )

Each irrigation tank will span across five acres inside the rainforest, said the Minister adding for the five acres lost in Sinharaja a 100-acre forest will be grown at a separate location.

The Minister made this comment while admitting that the Sinharaja Rainforest is a protected area.

“The Gin Nilwala Diversion Project was proposed when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President to move water from the Gin & Nilawala rivers to Giruwapattuwa and to provide water to Tangalle, Beliatte, Weeraketiya, Walasmulla, Dambarella and, other areas,” said the Minister.

“We are facing a minor challenge. That is, we need to construct two small irrigation tanks at higher ground, inside the Sinharaja Rainforest,” said Chamal Rajapaksa.

He went on to note the project was awarded to a Chinese company that prepared the plans, however, the project was stalled over the past five years.

Minister Chamal Rajapaksa said the payment was made to the Chinese company and the state had taken the necessary steps to implement that project.

Moreover, rubber cultivation is to be used to increase Sri Lanka’s forest cover, the Minister said adding it will also be a source of income for the people.

“We can generate an income by selling tyres made using the rubber sap collected from these trees,” he said.

Irrigation Department Clarification

The Ministry of Irrigation said 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.

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