Blasting at Piyangala continuing, say activists

By Dhananjani Silva

While there are continuing protests calling for an end to metal quarrying work in the Piyangala area in Ampara due to the alleged harm it is causing to an historic rock cave and the environment, there has been no let up in the blasting, opposition politicians and villagers say.

The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) which monitors the vibrations caused by the blasts has started daily monitoring since last week to ensure that no harm is caused but reports from the area say that several houses have been damaged due to the blasting activities as the vibrations can be felt for several miles in the area disturbing wild life as well.

JVP Digamadulla district MP Wasantha Piyatissa said the protest campaign by members of the organization to protect the heritage of Digamadulla would continue in the coming weeks to pressurize the authorities to halt the quarry work and added that Government assurances in this connection have been limited to words.

“About three or four houses have cracks in walls due to the vibration while damage is also being allegedly caused to a rock cave with frescoes. Although there are about 40 caves in the vicinity no assessment was being done to determine the impact on them due to round the clock mining activity,” he said.

According to him, some of the wells and waterways in the area have run dry while animals have also left the area as a result. The rock is being blasted to provide material for the construction of the Oluvil harbour but residents and environmental groups claim that mining activity would have an adverse impact on the Piyangala rock cave - Sri Lanka’s only rock cave depicting Veddah frescoes, which is in the vicinity.

GSMB Chairman Dr. N.P. Wijeyananda said that the Bureau has determined by conducting test blasts the limits that should not be exceeded in terms of sound and vibration while mining. Starting from last Monday, the GSMB has also begun daily monitoring of the blasting to see if there are any adverse effects.

“Our teams are monitoring the blasting parameters to assess vibrations to the cave. If they exceed the limits we advise those concerned to reduce the levels. Such an incident occurred once and the vibration levels were reduced,” he said.

In addition to the concerns about the damage caused to the archaeological site, the environmental concerns are being addressed by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA). CEA Provincial Deputy Director M. A. C. Najeeb said that based on the monitoring reports, the CEA would take action if violation of regulations takes place.

He refuted claims that animals in the area have left following the blasting saying so far he has heard of no such report. Cultural Affairs Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena when contacted said that the reports by the GSMB say no damage is being caused to the site due to the mining and added that the Archaeology Commissioner inspected the site. Asked if the report would be tabled in Parliament, the Minister said it would be presented soon.

“Once we invited the protestors and politicians for a discussion, but they didn’t turn up. Instead they go on protesting,” he said. However the JVP MP said that the GSMB report is being kept under wraps and not made public as it is a negative one.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
Other News Articles
US to quiz Gen. Fonseka
Human smuggling begins in East
Presidential poll likely; signs of rift in cabinet
Top-level Indo-Lanka talks soon
Collateral damage
Talk at the Cafe Spectator
New IGP takes up duties on Tuesday
Call for independent body to import drugs
Lawyers defy order to hand over keys to Hulftsdorp offices
Lanka to receive GSP + concessions for 8 months more
Beruwala clash: Buhary Mosque Sheikh not implicated, says AG
Farewell to father of street theatre
Risking young lives
Policeman remanded in forced-drowning case
Beware: Trees fall as strong winds create havoc in city
Family figures as chief offender in abuse cases
Handbook on media in Tamil launched
The rabies risk
Government and unions heading for showdown - Demand for Rs. 5,000 salary increase
Up close and personal with the US Ambassador
Crisis talks in Muscat over Oman Air flights
Blasting at Piyangala continuing, say activists
Drought-struck farmers pray for rain and government help


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2009 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution