Proposed hydro power plant project threatens World Heritage Site

Proposed hydro power plant project threatens World Heritage Site

Written by Amani Nilar

15 Oct, 2021 | 11:18 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st); A bio-diversity rich area not far from the Knuckles Mountain Range in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is at the risk of being destroyed due to the proposed construction of a hydro power plant, damming the picturesque Heel Oya.

“This also poses a threat to the famous Kalu Diya Pokuna, loosely translated as the Black Water Pond,” claimed local villagers.

Heel Oya was identified to be developed as a Tourism Theme Village in 2015 by Sri Lanka Tourism (Annual Report to Parliament), and paddy farming remains as the main livelihood of the people in the area.

Heel Oya supplies water for its villagers’ daily needs as well as for farming activities.

However, the villagers said authorities are keen on implementing the proposed hydro power plant at the Kalu Diya Pokuna, the source of water for the Heel Oya.

The villagers point out that the trees in the forest are being cut down for the project, threatening the eco-system in ways beyond repair.

Due to this, the villages of Kurukohogama, Hakmana, South Doraliyadda, Maligawela and Watagala will also be severely affected.

Environmental groups point out that development work in a World Heritage Site should be done only on the advise and supervision of the World Heritage Global Committee.

Meanwhile, the Medadumbara Divisional Secretary Mangala Wickramarachchi said that according to the Government’s National policy, there is a demand for a small hydro power plant in the vicinity of the Heel Oya – Kalu Diya Pokuna.

However, he added that a field visit will be held on 27 October, to consider the protests and a discussion will be held between the contractors, officials and the people of the village about the relevant construction.

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