The Sunday Leader

Concerns Remain On Uma Oya

by Waruni Karunarathne

The next hearing of the fundamental rights violation case filed by the affected villagers of the Uma Oya Project and the Centre for Environmental Justice is to be taken up in the Supreme Court on the 23rd of this month.

Attorney-at-Law Ravindranath Dabare who is appearing on behalf of the petitioners told The Sunday Leader that the last hearing of the case was on the 14th of this month and the next hearing is scheduled for the 23rd of this month.

“During the last hearing the Supreme Court ordered all the government stakeholders to keep the Court updated about any activities or decisions made in relation to the Uma Oya project. Our main concern is not whether the project should be continued or not. We need solutions for the issues faced by people in this area. Those people’s concerns need to be addressed and those who are affected should get compensation. There are about 15,000 people who are affected due to the project activities. Owing to the project, residents in the area have lost access their sources to drinking water, their houses have been damaged and they are unable to continue with their livelihood activities. There are numerous other issues raised by this project,” he added.

During the last hearing, the Supreme Court has also ordered the Attorney General, the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development, Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and relevant stakeholders of the government to submit to court the relief measures offered to the affected people within one week.

Meanwhile, there were also reports that despite the suspension of the Uma Oya project, the project work has recommenced unofficially.  Speaking to The Sunday Leader, JVP MP Nalinda Jayatissa said that the Uma Oya Project has to be terminated immediately.

“JVP Badulla District comrade Samantha Hettiarachchi voiced against this project and brought to the notice its environmental impacts and its adverse impacts on people around the areas. We built social awareness on this issue and brought it to the notice of the society. It is a very unsuccessful and harmful project. The project has destroyed the lifestyle and the livelihoods of the community in the Uva province. This was a project initiated just to supply water to the Hambanthota port, airport and Suriyawewa ground. We are shocked to think how arrogant and thoughtless leaders of this country are to initiate a project of this nature,” he added.

He insisted that the government should pay compensations to the people who were affected by this project.

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