Hydraulic experts have endorsed the feasibility of reclaiming 500 acres of land from the sea off the coast at Galle Face in Colombo to construct a new commercial city based on a presidential directive.
Malith Mendis, Chief Executive / Director of the Lanka Hydraulic Institute (LHI), told the Business Times that although an indepth study has not been carried out by the LHI or any other institute, there is unlikely to be a major impact on the environment such as beach and land erosion.
He noted that the impact of coastal currents would be minimal adding that the LHI has designed the massive 100-foot high breakwater for the new Colombo South Harbour project to withstand waves of 30-feet high, and it will not be affected by the Galle Face new city project. He revealed that according to LHI studies on the Colombo South Harbour, the reclaiming of the sea area will not be harmful to the environment. However he has not ruled out the long term impact on marine resources.
Economic Development Ministry sources said the 2km x 2km sea stretch will be reclaimed by filling to construct a modern city with skyscrapers, apartment blocks, shopping malls and other public needs, in a 3-year project ending in 2012.
“The Sri Lanka Ports Authority is to handle the project to create a new ‘port city”, a senior official said.
The LHI will be entrusted with the task of providing hydrographic and modelling services, and the Moratuwa University will be involved in the planning, he added. Work on the port city project will begin by the end of this year. All infrastructure facilities will be provided at the new city reducing problems such as congestion, traffic jams, lack of space for parking and pollution.
The plan was first announced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the recent May Day rally.
A senior ministry official said a feasibility and environment impact assessment study will be conducted before embarking on the project while the need to offer tax holidays and a 30-year lease on land to attract foreign investors is being considered. Relevant agreements for the construction of the new city will be signed in the next few months.