Construction in Environmentally Sensitive Nallathanniya- Maskeliya

Rest Houses are some of the many properties built as a result of a great influx of visitors joining the Sri Pada climb. Since the rest house is less than 1km away from the Peak of Wilderness, which is a part of the ‘Central Highlands’ of UNESCO World Heritage Site, the need for conservation of flora and fauna, along with the maintenance of the buffer zones has become fundamental.

During a site visit conducted in November 2016, it appeared that the establishment has seemingly advanced upward into the forested land from its original plot. The rest house includes four buildings out of which the top tiers were still under construction at the time of inspection. Furthermore, the soil has been profusely excavated opposite the construction site and en- route to the site. A new clearing was also observed with excavations on the slopes, presumably to lay a concrete foundation for another construction.

More importantly, the site is located in the Ambagamuwa District Secretariat in Nuwara Eliya District, which is one of the ten districts identified as landslide prone in the country. Hence, the lack of proper planning can pose great damage in the event of a natural disaster.

From an environmental perspective, two of the major concerns include the possible impacts on biodiversity of the area due to construction activities and the influence on soil conservation. The possibility of a landslide disaster is also quite high as the rest house is situated on a slope and the effects on water resources of the area will occur through the clearing of vegetation located in an important catchment area.