It is heartening to see a report in The Island which says that the Minister of Environment, Mahinda Amaraweera has assured definite action against illegal constructions at the Mawella Bay. This issue has been the bane of existence for the Bay area residents as it has clearly undermined the value of our initial investments.
When the CCD and the Fisheries Ministry made a sudden decision last year to pile up rock in this beautiful Bay, they said it was for the benefit of the fishing community. But it is important to have a sense of history when making such decisions. This Bay has existed for not hundreds but probably thousands of years and fishermen in this area have always used traditional methods of fishing when they go out to sea and have survived the vagaries of ocean currents and wave movements. Today, they use the same traditional, oru boats, to go to sea and as far as we know there have been no complaints from them about pulling their boats up onto the beach or of any erosion occurring in the Mawella Bay.
From what I understand there was no proper scientific study of the Bay area and coastline, before building the anchorage that is now standing. We now hear they are going to build two breakwaters. If they go ahead with this, we fear the serene waters of the Mawella Bay will go through the same devastation that the Unawatna beach went through. That beach was destroyed by such a construction.
Therefore, it would be a great pity if the same occurs in Mawella Bay especially because investors in this area, see a lot of potential for boutique hotels here which will also be a great help to the community. Already there are murmurs and one definite case of an investor pulling out. We know that the smaller boutique hotels work very well with the community because there is a kind of sharing of profits that happens. Undoubtedly the bigger share goes to the hoteliers who invested in the business but there are many ways for the community to earn their living from them and everything counts for these underprivileged families, especially the fisher folk. Every day, we hear of how fishing boats return almost empty and this is a sad situation for those who depend on the catch for their daily living, and our kind of tourism can be a great alternative for them.
If investors pull out due to bad decisions made by some of these state agencies then it would end up being a real disaster for the locals. This is why we are heartened by the Environment Minister’s decision to intervene in this issue. I do hope sanity will prevail and the madness around us will come to an end. Thank you.