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Reclamation of Land at Galle Face

It is one thing to start grandiose schemes . another to ensure that there is no serious aftermath after their completion. The proposal for the filling up of an area around 500 acres of sea in the Galle Face area involving a 2 km square area has come in double quick time following the parliamentary elections that one is driven to inquire whether the proposal has had intricate planning¸investigation and environmental examination it deserves. Or is it just fantasy taking precedence over prudence ? Once this giant step has been taken, it will be too late for repentance if the proper investigations and study , expert in its character, had not been in place. That sea erosion became worse, particularly in the western coast after tourism was introduced in earnest is no secret. At least officialdom in the Coast Conservation department should be wise to it. The writer was serving in the 1970s in the then Ministry of Shipping & Tourism when NEDECO ex perts in one of their reports concluded that sea erosion in the west coast was attributable to the indiscriminate construction of " groynes" both by the Coast Conservation department and such arbitrary unauthorised constructions by some beach hotels. Yet. special little was done to remedy the situation and I believe more and more "groynes" sprang up causing immense damage elsewhere. The new proposal to fill up a 2 sq, km area of sea adjacent to Galle Face would need expert advice after extremely careful investigation as to whether it will not have any adverse effects elsewhere. Similar schemes in other countries need to be examined taking cognisance of any peculiarities in the behaviour of the sea around Sri Lanka as compared to those countries like Singapore which have successfully done so.

I. P. C Mendis

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