SLLRDC legalises further expansion of landfills

By Mirudhula Thambiah

Despite the new regulations passed under the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation Development Commission (SLLRDC) Act being gazetted, which incorporates terms and conditions governing legal landfill of low-lying land, marshes, barren or muddy land in the Western Province, landfills have been temporarily stopped because of the massive floods experienced last year, Chairman- SLLRDC, Architect Harshan De Silva revealed.

Deputy General Manager- Lands & Marketing, SLLRDC, Hemalatha Prathapage revealed that the terms and conditions gazetted on February 7, 2011, was to formalize land reclamation and development in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts.

“This is also an attempt to strictly reduce unauthorised landfills in the Western Province,” she said.
Accordingly, Chief Legal Officer- SLLRDC, Disna Amarasinghe said that, owners of lowland, marshes, barren or muddy land, who wish to construct on such land, have to obtain prior written approval of the SLLRDC, consequent to an application to the Corporation.

Due process of the application will be subject to the investigative steps taken by the Planning Committee comprising the Urban Development Authority, Central Environmental Authority, Department of Agrarian Services and senior officials of the SLLRDC.

“The application on a formal application form of the SLLRDC, is submitted along with a photocopy of the related title deed and copies of the survey plan of the land referred to in the title deed. Subject to the extent of the land to be filled and its distance from the SLLRDC’s head office, an advance payment is payable when the application is submitted. It also entails an initial payment of Rs 3,450,” the Chief Legal Officer said.

Diyawanna Oya being widened
New lake coming up at Pelawatte. Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

If an abandoned paddy field or a paddy field under cultivation is to be developed, the SLLRDC directs that applications be made to the Deputy Commissioner- Agrarian Services Department of the District, prior to the application to the SLLRDC.

This application should be submitted with the recommendation of the Local Authority and the Urban Development Authority, along with an approval from the Central Environmental Authority and the Road Development Authority.

Mr. De Silva told the Sunday Times that, after processing the application, engineers of the SLLRDC will conduct a detailed investigation on the Survey Plan of the land and submit a proposal for the amount of land to be filled, construction of a suitable drainage system, plans for the retention areas and design a suitable drainage system, while testifying sensitive low lands which will not be approved for development.

“A Conditional Letter, with directions to fill the lands, will be issued, and the applicant is granted a period of six months time to fulfil the plan designed by the engineers, while the applicant is also afforded opportunities to extend the scheming period,” Ms. Amarasinghe said.

On completion of construction, the engineers will examine the construction, and the planning committee will issue a final clearance certificate to the applicant. According to the Terms and Conditions under the new regulation of the SLLRDC Act, failure to adhere to such Terms and Conditions, if found guilty in a Magistrate’s Court, is liable to a fine not less than Rs.100, 000 and not exceeding Rs.500,000, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both,” the Chief Legal Officer said.

Landfills of low lands, marshes, barren or muddy land will be further extended to other parts of the island as well, Ms Prathapage revealed. Other than for the Western Province, the SLLRDC has also applied for the expansion of reclamation and development in the Southern Province, to the Ministry of Lands. Once approval is granted, the Land Ministry will gazette the regulations to the SLLRDC Act, she said.

More lakes spring up in Colombo District

The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Commission (SLLRDC) has launched an ambitious project of converting the Colombo District’s water retention areas into large lakes, officials said.
They said lakes were being built at Peliyagoda, Pelawatte and Thalawathugoda while more were being planned.

Two months ago, work on a new lake began at Pelawatte and it would be named Rampalawatte wewa, the officials said adding that by next month what was once a marshy land would be a beautiful lake.
They said work on the Thalawathugoda lake also started two months ago and the project would be completed within months. These two new lakes border the Diyawanna Oya which is also being widened.

The officials said they hoped to complete the lake being built at Peliyagoda soon while another new lake will be built in the Parliament upper retention area along the Robert Gunawardena Mawatha. They said moves were underway to dredge Colombo’s Beira Lake.

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