June 24, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has decided to lease out 10 more islands in the Kalpitiya area of Puttalam district in the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka for tourism projects.
Deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena has said that there are 31 islands in the seas off Kalpitiya and four islands have already been leased out to companies for tourism projects.
Kalpitiya, an 8-mile stretch of land planked between the sea on one side and the lagoon on the other side, and the nearby islets in the Puttalam District will be developed under the KITRP as a major tourist destination similar to Bali in Indonesia, according to tourism officials.
The government has so far leased out the islands Ippantivu , Vellai I, Vellai II, and Vellai III.
Abeywardena has said that the government was currently carrying out survey work in 10 islands - Baththalangunduwa, Palliyawate, Uchchamunai, Eramutivu, Mutuwal (Dutch Bay), Periya Arachchalai, Sinna Arachchalai, Sinna Eramutivu, Eramutivu West, and Kakativu 1.
According to the Minister, the land acquisition process is underway in the rest of 17 islands - Lamputivu alias Pambativu, Kilitivu, Neduntivu Mattutivu, Ambantativu, Pullupitiya alias Somativu Nariya Kutti, Pasikuda alias Maripututivu, Odayapitiya alias Udayurputi, Kakativu 3 and three other islands with no specific name.
However, Abeywardena has noted that only the Baththalangunduwa which is 145 hectares in extent is occupied by 1,500 families and that there are less than 1,000 families in the other islands.
According to the Minister, the islands were leased out under the tourism development plan to increase the number of hotel rooms in the country to 50,000 from its existing 14,000 by 2016.