Ad­min re­forms planned in Nuwara Eliya

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - COMMENT/NEWS - By Shel­ton Het­tiarachchi

The di­lap­i­dated and dis­fig­ured cen­tral hill town Nuwara Eliya is head­ing for a smallscale ad­min­is­tra­tive makeover at the lo­cal level.

Ur­ban Deve l o p m e n t Authority deputy di­rec­tor for Nuwara Eliya, H M W Herath, said: “The city which is around 15 square kilo­me­tres is ex­pected to be ex­panded to 50 sq km. More grama se­vaka di­vi­sions would be an­nexed to the city, in­creas­ing from the present eight to 20. A meet­ing be­tween rep­re­sen­ta­tives of state and pri­vate sec­tor agen­cies in Nuwara Eliya will be held.’’

Un­planned build­ings, in­clud­ing lodg­ings, ho­tels, restau­rants, shops, bun­ga­lows and malls, have de­faced the once-pic­turesque town and the num­ber of build­ings ex­ceeds the town's ca­pac­ity.

Many busi­ness-peo­ple and hote­liers have bored tube wells in their com­pounds to tap ground wa­ter sources . En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists be­lieve this de­pletes the ground­wa­ter sources.

The drainage sys­tem is an­cient. Leaks in some lo­ca­tions emit an un­bear­able stench.

New build­ings do not fit into the land­scape of the old colo­nial style ar­chi­tec­ture which had earned Nuwara Eliya the de­scrip­tion of “Lit­tle Eng­land.’’

In the Gre­gory's Park area a num­ber of makeshift shanty-like bou­tiques have come up. Her­itage sites like the Vic­to­ria Park are in ne­glect and peo­ple have en­croached on park land.

With the grow­ing num­ber of tourists, traf­fic con­ges­tion has wors­ened. In ad­di­tion there are no des­ig­nated park­ing spa­ces in the town.

Chaminda Ma­hanayake, an en­vi­ron­ment re­searcher told the Sun­day Times that con­di­tions once seen in the dry zone are be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in Nuwara Eliya.

“Our re­search has shown the num­ber of mi­grant bird species has fallen due to the cli­matic changes in Nuwara Eliya.’’

He also pointed out that usu­ally the mon­soon be­gins in April. How­ever the rains now are not reg­u­lar. “The tall bushy trees have dis­ap­peared from the town area. You could ob­serve this most clearly on the way to the Hor­ton Plains,’’ he said.

He added that ir­re­spon­si­ble vis­i­tors are un­der­min­ing the garbage dis­posal scheme of the lo­cal authority.

Pen­sioner, H M Wi­jepala, who was born in Nuwara Eliya

New build­ings do not fit into the land­scape of the old colo­nial style ar­chi­tec­ture

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