“Enough is enough! We have reached our limit now as no decision maker has taken any remedial action. It is time for the people to act,” said Uva Provincial Councillor and convener of the ‘People’s Protesting Front for the Disastrous Umaoya Project’ Samantha Widyarathna, addressing the residents of Udaperuwa in Bandarawela on June 21.
The walls and floors of 17 houses in the village had developed major cracks within the past few months forcing the residents to abandon their homes. Sections of some houses had sunk more than four feet as the tunnelling of the Uma Oya multipurpose development project progressed.
“There are 7,037 houses in the surrounding divisional secretary’s area that have developed cracks and are not suitable to reside in, hence, it is expected that more than 10,000 people would gather in Bandarawela on the 28th and demand that the project be halted. It is not too late even now as we foresee disaster in the future. It may be in our lifetime or it may be after, but it will happen as predicted by experts. At present, more than 3,112 springs, wells and streams on the Eastern slopes of the central hills have dried up!” “We appealed to decision makers not to go ahead with the Uma Oya multi-purpose but it got underway on April 29 2008.
The Asian Development Bank rejected the project as it violated the water rights of the people, but the former government secured funding from Iran to carry out the project.
The final Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was performed years after the project commenced and was approved on April 12 2011! The project is facing an unforeseen setback as a major water seepage has developed.
It is estimated that 976 litres of water is seeping into the tunnel every second! Eighty Four million three hundred and twenty six thousand four hundred (84,326,400) litres of water is being wasted per day and the contracting company has been unable to stop the flow yet!” Widyarathna added. “As our appeals to the government have fallen on deaf ears the people have been compelled to act to save themselves and their future generations.”