Written by Zulfick Farzan
25 Mar, 2021 | 9:43 am
Colombo (News 1st); The Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO (SLNCU) has warned the proposed agrarian tank project in Sinharaja will have an impact on approximately 04 hectares of the Sinharaj Rainforest.
Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte, Secretary-General of Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO (SLNCU) said the construction of a tank or a lake as proposed by the Gin – Nilwala Diversion project will directly damage the forest.
“The Minister wanted to have a lake within the Sinharaja World Heritage Site adding the project is to divert water from the Gin river to the Hambantota District,” he said adding, however, to most advantageous point for the project (Mandugete) is located within the Sinharaja Rainforest covering approximately 05 hectares.
Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte speaking exclusively to News 1st said there is an operational guideline for all World Heritage Site which was formed by all member-states in unison.
The guideline refers to two constructions, minor and major, said Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte who went on to note the tank will be a major construction, adding that despite the bund located away from the Sinharaja Rainforest, the lake itself will be located inside the World Heritage Site.
“We explained this to the Minister, Secretary and the Engineers and they accepted our position. At the same time, we informed the World Heritage Committee to inquire about this project. Because, if you want to carry out construction at a World Heritage Site, you must get permission from the World Heritage Committee,” said Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte.
“The government argues that they are only taking five hectares from the 8000-hectare rainforest, however, it is inside the Sinharja Rainforest, therefore, nobody can touch that,” stressed Dr. Punchinilame Meegaswatte.
He said the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO will not allow for the construction to take place inside the Sinharaja Rain Forest, noting that it is her personal view.
He said the Minister of Irrigation had instructed the engineers to move for an alternative option for the project aimed at providing water to the Hambantota District.
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