Thousands of people living in Bandarawela and the adjoining areas thronged to Bandarawela town to protest against the Uma Oya Multipurpose project yesterday. Shops were closed and transport in the town came to standstill as they launched a hartal demanding the suspension of the project.
They shouted slogans demanding the government to suspend the project as their houses are in danger of being caved in owing to the project. These protestors wearing black jackets with black flags lamented that they face severe shortage of water.
Black flags were displayed opposite every building of the town in protest of the project. The protestors later held a massive rally in the heart of Bandarawela town.
Addressing the rally, convenor of people’s movement against Uma Oya project Samantha Vidyarathna said that they will not leave the town until the authorities take action to halt the project immediately
Vidyarathna added that thousands of people living in the area are facing water shortage and their houses are on the verge of collapse.
“We urged the government to stop this project without delay”, he said
Ven Pallegama Gnanarathana Thera of Ginigama Dharmodaya Pirivena said that the people who were affected by the project should receive a compensation. “The government should take action to minimize adverse impact on the people while ensuring compensation to then”, he said.The Uma Oya Multipurpose project was proposed to divert 192 MCM of water annually to the Kirindi Oya to augment the Handapanagala and Lunugamwehera and Weheragala reservoirs by feeder channels in the lowlands.
Environmentalists say that no proper environmental assessment has been done before the project is implemented.
They allege that with the construction of the reservoirs and the tunnel, people living upstream of the planned tunnel are likely to suffer from water shortages.
Cracks are developing in many houses in Weheragalathenna, Makul Ella, Egodagama, Palleperuwa, Udaperuwa and Kurudugolla, Heel Oya, Boralanda and Kurudugolla in the Nuwara Eliya and Badulla districts.
The protesters at the Bandarawela town yesterday. Pictures by Ananada Hapugoda and N.Navaratne