The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) yesterday (6) filed a case against the Araliya Hotel, Unawatuna in the Court of Appeal.
Incidentally, Dudley Sirisena, the brother of ex-president Maithripala Sirisena is the Chairman of the Araliya Group of Companies.
Attorney-at-Law Ravindranath Dabare said that they had been compelled to file action against Araliya Hotel-Unawatuna since there had been no proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the negative impact of the project would harm the ecologically sensitive Buonavista reef.
Unawatuna boasted one of the best beaches in the world, Dabare said.
Tourists who visited Unawatuna in large numbers since its transformation into a prominent tourist destination of Southern Sri Lanka preferred homestead tourism, CEJ Executive Director Hemanatha Withanage said, adding that a part of Rumassala Sanctuary area including both the forest and coral reefs were now protected due to their valuable biodiversity.
Environmentalists and nature activists insist that the construction of a 16-storeyed edifice for a hotel complex which includes over 250 rooms covering an extent of 10 acres and 6.1 perches along with a 20 -40-foot wide carpeted road from ‘Yaddehimulla’ to the ‘Rumassala Peella Junction’ via the boundary of the Rumassala mountain will be detrimental to the priceless natural resources in the area including the Rumassala Sanctuary.
Although an EIA was done for 250 rooms the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management had granted approval for 300 rooms and ancillary buildings without calling for a supplementary EIA, Withanage added.
“If the road is constructed, there will be considerable destruction to the ecosystem of the Rumassala sanctuary,” Withanage stressed.
The Araliya Hotel was planning to release 60% of wastewater after treatment to the sea on completion of the project, the senior environmentalist said.
At present all waste water from the hotel as being discharged to a waterway close to the hotel, and it ultimately flows into the sea.
If the mega Araliya project was not regulated properly, it would eliminate the ecological appeal of Rumassala and Unawatuna where people had lived peacefully, the CEJ Legal Team warned.