Whose brilliant scatter-brained idea was it to tell our President to convert the beautiful Galle Face Green, commonly known as Galle Face, to a commercial town and reclaim land from the sea-front to construct a modern city under a massive development scheme?
The promenade was established by the British almost 150 years ago and should be preserved as a heritage site. This is basically the only lung for the city of Colombo, where people can gather for exercise, meditation and breathe fresh air.
Even bus loads of people who travel from distant areas especially for Vesak and other festivities drop in at the Galle Face to stretch their weary legs and feast their eyes on the scenic beauty of the setting sun at the edge of an expanse of glimmering ocean, popularly known in Sinhala as Ho Gana Pokuna.
The grand-old-dame, The Galle Face Hotel adorning the Green, is another historical landmark where royalty and dignitaries stayed during their visits to this beautiful island and many travellers have written descriptive stories about this hotel and the tranquillity of Galle Face.
The Galle Face Green, is a heritage that belongs to the people of Sri Lanka, their children and children’s children, and no government should be allowed to touch this site and deface it.
Holland, Singapore and Dubai reclaimed land from the sea because they did not have enough land, but for a country like Sri Lanka, there is no need to reclaim land from the sea. It would of course be profitable if the sea outside the harbour was reclaimed for the expansion of the Colombo harbour as its cargo handling capacity is limited. Colombo has developed enough and should be beautified and left as it is, a garden city.
The grandiose plans of the Economic Development Ministry should be to develop Hambantota, turning it into a hub of commerce and trade instead of Colombo. Already a modern airport and huge harbour are being constructed and will be completed very soon. We could then boast of a modern city in the south, bigger and more prosperous than Colombo.
Since the President and the UPFA government are likely to rule the country for another 20 years wouldn’t it be feasible if the seat of government, the Parliament, be shifted to Hambantota where there is enough room for spacious housing for the Cabinet and leave Colombo as it is?