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Water transport


BY G.A.D.Sirimal

(SLAS) Rtd. Asst. Secretary

Ministry for Power & Energy and Highways.

Reading the news item and viewing over the electronic media, the inauguration of a boat travel from Union Place to Fort, I am reminded of the original plan to shift the capital of Sri Lanka Colombo to Sri Jayawardenapura, during the regime of President J.R.Jayewardene thus making Colombo a commercial city and Sri Jayawardenapura as capital city, the administrative hub. It was proposed to shift all government offices and ministries to Sri Jayawardenapura so that the public could transact business with government offices in one area easily, and other developments to make Jayawardena Pura a beautiful city – Inner city [Indigenous park] Highway landscaping, Lake walks, Cultural Grove, Bird Sanctuary etc. However, the master plan drawn was partly implemented and with the change of presidency, R.Premadasa did not pursue the earlier plan and some lands were said to have been sold to private parties. If the plan was implemented, the present scandal of renting buildings at exorbitant prices would not have arisen and saved taxpayer’s money. It is a pity all succeeding governments, scrap well planed development plans prepared by earlier governments for reasons, either to not to give credit to the previous regime or for mostly alleged corruption, fraud, etc.

Having said that, it is considered necessary to quote, though lengthy from the masterplan, what was envisaged in developing water transport so that the present government or governments to come would al least know what the original plans were and thinking behind of these developments – its benefits. May be the original of this valuable document is either lost or gathering cobwebs in some Record Room, never heard of by present officials or Ministers.

"The handsome disposition of marshes and waterways have been taken to its maximum advantage in designing a body of water with winding tentacles that reach every important township of the City. The City will thus be united by water and inter-linked by an efficient water transport system.

A tentacle of the main body of water surrounding the Parliament stretches out to the North and enters river Kelani close to Peliyagoda, passing its way via Etul Kotte and Kolonnawa. It will also connect with the Beira Lake in the heart of the Commercial Capital of Colombo via the existing system of canals.

At Etul Kotte, at the Northern end of the Ancient Kingdom, a body of water will branch off to the South and open up to a beautiful lake on the western banks of the Ancient Kingdom, much the same way, that Diyawanna Oya surrounds it. This lake will stretch out to Nugegoda township and flow through the Kirillapona canal skirting Nawala township to end up in the sea at Dehiwala and Wellawatte.

The design of the lake also envisages opening up of the ancient outer most as a water tunnel to linkthe main lake surrounding Parliament with the lake simulating similar land to water relationship that existed more than five centuries ago at the ancient capital of Sri Jayawardenapura. It will once again feature as an island.

The main lake will also flow to the South West skirting the landscape of Beddegana up to the township of Mirihana. In a South Easterly direction, it will reach Talawatugoda and passing through Thalapathpitiya and Depanama townships will dive under the Eastern arterial way [High Level Road] in a water tunnel to end up in Weras Ganga, changing direction to a south westerly way. The river named Weras Ganga will be linked at Boralesgamuwa and the canal system criss-crossing the commercial capital through water way.

Another tentacle will stretch out to the North East and will flow round the townships of Pelawatte and Akurugoda to link with the ancient tank of Talangama. From here it will flow Northward along the city boundary to end up in river Kelani at Ambatale connecting the ancient tank of Mulleriyawa.

Besides these major branches, there will be other water bodies designed to enhance the topographic features of specific locations.

As designed above, water will form a unique feature in the new capital. Using water transport system it will be possible for one directly reach the townships of Etul Kotte, Battaramulla, Pelawatte, Talangama, Thalawatugoda, Madiwela, Beddegana, Mirihana, Pitakotte, Nugegoda, Nawala, Rajagiriya, Kolonnawa, Wellampitiya, Kotikawatte, Malabe, Mulleriyawa, Thalapathpitiya, Depanama, Werehera, Boralesgamuwa. Waterways will pass many other townships at a distance. In all of the above mentioned townships connected by water ways, boat terminals will be located at convenient locations.

At Kolonnawa, Battaramulla, Pelawatte, Thalawatugoda, Depanama, Nugegoda, Pita Kotte, and Kotikawatte direct interchange transport terminals will be designed to enable passengers to interchange from the system to another in the three-pronged transportation system.".

In view of the present serious congestion in traffic in our highways, it would be advisable to consider the above and if necessary, amend to meet future demands in transport.

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