Residents Of Unawatuna In Fear Of Exploitation Due To Mega Tourism Project



Rumassala, Unawatuna area is renowned for its white sandy beaches, recreation and for entertainment.  Rumassala sanctuary is a globally renowned for its exotic wild life having the highest number of endemic flora and medicinal plants in the area.

Known to be one of the key tourist destinations in the world, Unawatuna beach is recognized as one of the most charming seashores of the world. The same reputation and recognition still remain. The tourists who visited Unawatuna in large numbers since its transformation into a prominent tourist destination of Southern Sri Lanka preferred homestead tourism. Today the residents are in fear of that the beauty of the beach and sanctuary is in danger due to a hotel complex which coming up in near future.

The hotel project will include over 250 rooms covering an extent of 10acres and 6.1 perches Yaddehimulla in Unawatuna. The BOI approved project is been impalement in a highly sensitive region. The area is comprised of shore reef, mangroves and lush green groves with rich bio diversity.  Unawatuna is expressly popular and recognized among the overseas holidaymakers as a Community Based Eco-tourism Destination.

Environmentalists, Residents, naturalists claims that cause a massive destruction to Rumassala sanctuary which was established under gazette notification 1269/25 of 2003.  According to Ravindra Kariyawasam, Centre for Environment and Nature Studies heavy machinery used at the construction resulted the whole terrain shaken. Soil layers in Rumassala are very similar to Western Ghats of India; It is believed to be an area which can study on continental drift. There could be soil erosion and future landslides could occur. Following a worldwide research carried out in 2011 the area in and around Rumassala and Unawatuna was identified to be the zone with the lowest gravitational acceleration in the world.  Within the stretch of the land on which the hotel is being constructed there is a rich mangroves expanse in which exotic plants similar to floras those can be seen at Western Ghats of India do exist.

Among the exotic floras there are some infrequent plants such as “Mal Kaddol” (Bruguier hexangular), “Muna Mal” (Mimusopselengi), and “DiyaDanga” (Dolichandronespathacea) etc. Moreover most significantly there are several plants of “MuduDelum” (Xylocarpusrumphii) on the grounds of famous “VelleDevol” and on the new hotel site as well which are categorized as much endangered plants in the Red Data Book 2012. It is also reported that there are only 8 such plants throughout the entire island. Moreover there are significantly endangered floras which should be strictly protected and conserved.

According to Environment Impact Assessment about the project also states that endangered species are living in the coastal belt.  DrHerrich-Schäffer, a German entomologist and physician discovered for the first time from this region some special species of mammals and reptiles including a butterfly identified as “Dark palm dart” (Telicotaancilla) , “Kurulu Goya” (Accipiter badius ), “VehiLihiniya” (Hirundosp:), “RathmuhunathKottoruwa” (Magalaimazeylonica)

The development project also blocked an ancient canal running to the sea. Residents claims that the Dutch canal is now been used to discharge waste water from the construction site where they fear the water will run to the coral reef causing extensive pollution in the reef. According to biologists 480 species of marine creatures live in the Rumassala coral reef. Ravindra Kariyawasam further states that it is a punishable offence to abuse wildlife and plant life under Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. If any individual or an organization is acting against the environmental provisions of the ordinance such a person should be dealt with legal actions.