The renovation of the road leading to Lankagama would not cause any damage to the Sinharaja rainforest since the road would not be extended even by a single inch, Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said in Parliament yesterday.
He made these observations in response to a query made by Samagi Jana Balawegaya Parliamentarian Dr Harsha de Silva.
The question had been directed to Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera who said that ministry officials had not prepared the answer and would answer within three weeks. At this stage Minister Fernando explained the situation in his capacity as the Highways Minister as it was being constructed under his ministry.
When MP Harsha Silva queried again whether the Government had obtained an environmental certificate to construct the road, Minister Johnston Fernando said that it was a concrete road constructed years before and the same is being laid again. He pointed out that when the Horowpathana road is renovated which is running through forest reserves, it does not need to obtain environment certificates, in the same manner this road leading to Lankagama need not have environment certificates to renovate.
When Minister Fernando asked if Dr Harsha de Silva had been to Lankagama, the latter answered in the affirmative. The Minister said that he had visited the village on several occasions and said that there was no point in raising questions based on Facebook posts. He also invited Dr Harsha de Silva to come with him to see the genuine picture there which the latter accepted.
Minister Fernando said that the road was 1.1 km long and the project would be completed within 90 days on the request of the people who benefit.
During the discussion Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that the road was constructed while he was the Chief Minister there. However the then Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman was imprisoned for a week for constructing the road.