Unauthorised hotel in the Knuckles Reserve | Daily News

Unauthorised hotel in the Knuckles Reserve

* Place where Weliwita Saranankara Thera used to bathe has also been flattened
* Two hundred metre roadway built reclaiming paddy land

Information is being reported from the Rathkinda area of Matale that a hotel complex is being built by a big shot of the Central Environment Authority and his son in a historically, culturally and agriculturally important ecologically sensitive area.

The Telagamuwa Oya, which is one of the two main sources providing water to the Moragahakanda Reservoir, flows through this area bordering the World Heritage Knuckles Reserve, and the Katupollanda Katukitule Canal, which has been supplying water for agricultural activities for a long time, is also located in this area.Construction of the hotel is taking place about 100 metres away from the stream and a set of stone steps is being built to enable tourists to access it.Villagers of Etamwala believe that this area was where Ven. Saranankara Sangaraja Thera used to bathe and they hold a milk-boiling ceremony there.

It is their opinion that once tourists start arriving and roaming around, these places of cultural value could be damaged. Meanwhile they point out that these constructions have caused harm to the catchment area of the stream as well.

The six foot wide, 500-metre-long access road to reach the hotel complex is being constructed across the Katukitula Canal in the middle of Bulathwelhena and at present the work on a 200 metre section has been completed. Due to this construction, even the natural stones on the banks of the canal have been removed, thus there is a risk of erosion of the canal and water pollution occurring in the Telagamu Oya due to the flow of silt. The owners of this hotel complex have not obtained any legal permission from the Central Environmental Authority, Forest Conservation Authority and Agriculture Department, except for a permission obtained from the Pallegama Divisional Secretary after convincing that a good access road to the fields will be provided to the farmers by engaging in giving help in various ways.

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