June 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Defense and Urban Development Ministry has launched a massive project to restore the Beira Lake situated in the midst of the capital city Colombo and develop the area surrounding the man-made lake.
The three-year project aims to enhance the beauty of the city surrounding the lake and to redevelop lands adjacent to the lake to make the area a tourist attraction.
The land will be developed for more productive uses creating thousands of employment opportunities on the directive of Defense and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
The Project Director N.A.S.N. Nissanka said the project aims to reopen the Beira Lake to the public and attract more tourists and investment opportunities to the country. It is expected to provide thousands of employment opportunities as well.
The lake originally covering about 165 hectares of land in the city was created by the Portuguese in 1521 to protect their Fort from the locals. Later the lake was used for economic purposes by the British and now the lake covers about 65 hectares.
However, the lake with a historic value since then has become a malodorous eyesore in the middle of the Colombo city. The emanating stench and the inaccessibility to the lake have kept the public away from the water body.
The government realizing its potential has embarked on the project to restore the lake and develop the area to facilitate public access.
The Urban Development Authority rehabilitated the south west side of the Beira Lake adjacent to Nawam Mawatha and Gangarama temple making that area attractive to the public. However, the Greater Beira on the east side adjacent to D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, the Galle Face Lake and the West Lake has been in a neglected state for years without any rehabilitation.
The project to develop the neglected area includes the construction of linear parks along the Beira Lake with a width of six meters. A jogging track around the lake will also be constructed. Model parks will be constructed in several places along the Beira Lake for public use.
All waste water outlets including sewerage lines to the Lake will be disconnected.
The official said the families living in shanties along the Beira Lake will be provided housing units with more facilities in the condominium housing schemes under construction. Warehouses and garages by the side of Beira Lake will be relocated to use the land surrounding the lake for more productive uses.
The first phase of the project will cost over Rs. 1.5 billion.