The Sunday Times on the Web Plus
30th August 1998

Front Page|
Editorial/Opinion| Business| Sports |
Mirror Magazine

Front Page
Mirror Magazine

The once beautiful Mount Lavinia beach has now turned into a dumping ground and a den of vice

It's dirty business

By Hiranthi Fernando

Mt. Lavinia BeachMt. Lavinia Beach was long renowned as a beautiful beach resort. Located just six miles from the city centre, it was a popular destination for residents of Colombo as well as tourists.

Families would throng the beach for a relaxing Sunday morning swim. Today, apart from the sections of private beach front maintained by the major hotels, it is sad to see that much of this once lovely beach is not only polluted but appears to have become a den of vice and unlawful activity.

The stretch of beach just north of the well known landmark, Mt Lavinia Hotel, was a sorry sight when we saw it this week. It was strewn with an assortment of garbage, plastic bags and other discarded items. A large open storm water drain disgorges water mixed with stinking debris directly on to the beach. The owner of the restaurant close to this drain claims she has often seen human waste as well. A large rock on the beach was covered with an evil looking slimy coating. An untidy collection of cadjan huts nearby, further disfigured the beach. It was here that our cameraman captured a photograph of a group of schoolboys last week, playing truant and resorting to drinking and smoking on the beach. In an effort to curb the degradation of the beach resort, a discussion was held this week between the Mayor and other representatives of the Dehiwela/Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council, representatives of the Water Supply & Drainage Board, Police Officers of the Dehiwela and Mt. Lavinia Stations and Managers of some principal hotels in the area.

A hotel owner Mrs. Deraniyagala explained the problem caused by the large underground storm water drain which empties directly onto the beach and flows in to the sea, just outside her restaurant. "Many people in the area have not connected their toilets to the under ground sewage system," she said. "The overflow from septic tanks run into the storm water drain and flows onto the beach. When it rains, the stinking mass gets washed into the sea. During dry weather, the stench is even more unbearable." She felt that if they could find a means of diverting this drain or connecting it to the underground sewers, the problem can be solved. "This beach was one of our best beaches. Now we cannot attract tourists because of the pollution of the beach and the stench of the drain."

"The beach has become a centre of unlawful activities even during the daytime," commented a foreign Senior General Manager of another large beach hotel in the area. He explained there were a large number of unauthorised cadjan huts erected on the beach. They not only serve liquor without any licence but also engage in other undesirable activities. "They are attracting young schoolboys," he said. "The touts are very good at this." According to the hotel representatives, while the hotels have to renew their liquor licence each year, paying a fee and obtaining several signatures, these unauthorised establishments serve liquor even to minors with no qualms. "Competition is good, but it has to be official and authorised. When there is a demand, people will supply. We must cut off this supply," the Manager asserted.

Summarising the problem regarding cleanliness of the beach, the Mayor said storm water drain is maintained by the Dehiwela/Mt.Lavinia Municipal Council (DMMC), while the sewer network is maintained by the Water Board. The overflow from the septic tanks as well as kitchen waste all go into the storm water drain which is meant only for rain water.

The official from the Water Board present at the discussion said it is best that the Water Board and the DMMC work together to find a solution to this problem. If it is environmentally hazardous, he says, the Water Board has the authority to serve notice on all those letting out refuse to the storm water drain and order them to obtain a connection to the underground sewage system. According to him, 90% of kitchen waste goes into the drain. The septic tanks and kitchen waste could all be connected to the underground sewage. The connection would cost Rs.15,000 and the Water Board could give the connections fast. "If everyone takes this connection, pollution in the area will reduce drastically," he commented.

"People of the area must share the responsibility and give their support to keeping their environment clean," the Mayor Mr. Jayaratne said. "Well educated, middle class people are connecting their toilets and outlets into the storm water drain.

"We have found nine houses on College Avenue doing this. Unless the public play their part, it is difficult for the Municipal Council to achieve much with limited staff and Public Health Officers."

During the discussion, the officials concerned decided to start with Ward 18, which is the Mt. Lavinia Beach tourist area as a pilot project. Notice will be served to residents in this area to take the sewage connection and desist from polluting the storm water drain. If the warning in not heeded, it will have to be enforced. Once it is enforced in this area it could then be extended to other areas as well. "There are over ninety massage parlours operating in this area under the guise of "beauty parlours", "health clinics" and such names," the Mayor said. group of school boys

"They charge Rs. 25 to 50 and it is mostly the local boys and girls who frequent these places." Further, he said the unauthorised beach huts are let out to couples by the hour. Not satisfied with this they even encourage peeping toms at a fee. Prostitution of both females and males, including young beach boys, illicit trade in liquor and drugs especially Heroin, also appears to be rampant on the beach. The police officers of Dehiwela and Mt. Lavinia, who were present at the discussion, undertook the responsibility to control this aspect of the problem. They said that policemen in civil attire would be sent to patrol the beach. Those who had erected unauthorised structures on the beach, would be given notice to demolish them. Failure to do so would result in enforced demolition.

The sale of unauthorised liquor by the beach restaurants would also be clamped on.

It is encouraging that those concerned should get together in a joint effort to halt the further destruction of the Mt. Lavinia Beach Resort. It is hoped these efforts would prove to be fruitful .

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

More Plus * It is fun

Return to the Plus Contents

Plus Archive

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Business| Sports | Mirror Magazine

Hosted By LAcNet

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.