Master plans being developed

Master plans being developed

The first plan to emerge was that for the redevelopment of Arugam Bay, a small town nestled on the edge of a 300 hectare lagoon on the east coast of Sri Lanka, which just happens to be one of the best surfing spots in the world, with beautiful beaches as well.

No other plans are so far available, but it is said that this will serve as a model for all the other areas.

Plans envisage a complete transformation of the local environment and economy

The A?a??E? Zanaflex price us Arugam Bay Resource Development Plan: Reconstruction Towards Prosperity covers a stretch of land 17km by 5km between Komari and Panama, including Pottuvil Town.

It envisages the total reorientation of the area away from the current fishing and agricultural communities, supplemented by seasonal guesthouses, into a large development of hotels (A?a??E?low cost budget windsurfer to 5-star touristA?a??a??), a commercial centre (A?a??E?shoppersA?a??a?? paradiseA?a??a??), a yachting marina, floating plane pier and helipad. According to the plan, while only 9 out of 25,000 hectares are currently being used for tourism, this figure is set to increase exponentially through the redevelopment.

Consultants contracted by those responsible for the plan admit, A?a??E?consultants have drawn heavily upon past plans (esp. the Tourism Master Plan)A?a??A?which was widely recognized as being A?a??E?grandioseA?a??a?? and A?a??E?inappropriateA?a??a??, referring there to a report of the Asian Development Bank.

The disconnect between the planned development and the interests of the people is illustrated in the following quote, A?a??E?the location of the helicopter pad near the new pedestrianized road will bring a new vibrant life in to Arugam Bay Buy bupropion sr town centreA?a??a??.

If all of the 15 tourist resorts cover a similar area, a total of 1,275 square kilometers will be taken over for tourism, far more than the 500 square kilometers that it is estimated were affected by the tsunami.

Pushing fishing communities away from the sea and the lagoon in favour of tourists

In order to achieve this, the Sri Lanka Tourist Board is ready to acquire not only all the land within the buffer zone of 200m from the high tide line, but also a stretch of up to 1km wide running along 3km of the coast beyond the buffer zone, and a belt of in places over 600m around the edge of the lagoon. Add to that an area of sea next to the lagoon entrance for the yachting marina and a strip across the middle of the lagoon for the floating plane landing pier.

It is reported in notes taken at a meeting organised by Sewalanka Foundation between the community and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board Chairman, A?a??E?The land belongs to the government. Maybe your forefathers lived in that area, but the 860 acres belongs to the government. It will be developed as a tourist zone. We will put up buildings and develop the area and we will ask you to come and work thereA?a??A?After I became the Chairman I captured 5,000 acres of land for the Tourist Board. My target is 15,000 acresA?a??a??.

The plan explains that new housing for the estimated 5,000 displaced families will be provided in 5 separate inland locations, in all cases behind areas zoned off for tourism, at an average of well over 1km from both the sea and the lagoon, obstructed from accessing the same by the new infrastructure. It then proposes to allocate houses by drawing lots. It is reported in the same set of notes mentioned above that A?a??E?these houses will be given to people who support our programA?a??a??. Further, A?a??E?if you built any illegal structures in Arugam Bay, the army and the police will have to come and remove themA?a??a??.

The document also says that the estimated over 70 existing guesthouses and numerous other small enterprises that will have to be relocated would, if they were already registered businesses, be given the option of leasing land within the zones for a period of up to 30 years, while unregistered businesses would have no such rights. Nobody would receive compensation.

If all of the 15 tourist resorts follow the model of Arugam Bay, the number of families pushed out of the way of hotels, yachting marinas, helipads and floating plane landing strips could be well over 75,000.

Government spending $80 million of tsunami funds to facilitate the process.

The initial investment in the planned development is estimated at $80 million. Of that, $50 million is earmarked for a bridge over Arugam Lagoon, which according to the document A?a??E?will stand as an inspirational symbol that shows progress towards the achievement of prosperity for Arugam BayA?a??a?? as A?a??E?the gateway to a tourist paradiseA?a??a??.

Another $5 million is allocated for a new road around Arugam Lagoon. Then $20 million is proposed for the construction of the new inland townships of 2,500 houses. The remaining $5 million is given for water supply schemes and sanitation systems in the new townships and the tourist zone.

The cost of the other proposed infrastructure and amenities, such as the floating plane landing pier and helipad, is not yet included in the overall plan, although it is stated in the document that this will have to be funded either from investment by the Government or by NGOs.

If all of the 15 tourist townships require an investment of $80 million, the cost will be $1.2 billion, or a massive 40% of the total amount apparently raised to date.

Putting the wrong people in charge of planning again

The Arugam Bay plan was initiated apparently independently by the Rebuild Sri Lanka Trust, which was set up in the aftermath of the tsunami by 4 individuals and started working in the Arugam Bay area as a A?a??E?non-political private sector initiativeA?a??a??.

The Trustees are:

Mr. Ajith De Costa, is Managing Director of Maxim Ltd

Mr. Michel Sproule, is his stepson and a senior partner in a Colombo law firm

Mr. Hanif Yusoof, is the Managing Director of Expolanka Freight Ltd

Dr. Mrs. D. Kumara. is a retired doctor.

The Rebuild Sri Lanka Trust had within a month of the tsunami contracted a series of consultants to work on the plan.

These were:

Arcadis, a company of consulting engineers from the Netherlands,

ECOPLAN-Z Limited from New Zealand, and

EML Consultants from Sri Lanka.

All are themselves involved in or are directly linked to work on large Asian Development Bank or World Bank infrastructure projects. The local company, EML Consultants, according to their website, normally works in facilitating US investment in water and environmental services, in carbon trading and in the promotion of plantation agriculture and floriculture.

The plan was finalised by 25th April 2005 and states that at the time of writing the President had already given approval, and further was A?a??E?keen to see the action projects proposed in the report are implemented without delayA?a??a??. In fact, USAID had already published a Presolicitation Notice for a contract to construct the bridge, road, water supply scheme and wastewater system in Arugam Bay by 8th April 2005, and hosted a Pre-Bid Conference for potential contractors in Colombo on 10th May 2005.

The first the Residents of Arugam Bay heard of the plan was at a meeting organised by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board and Sewalanka Foundation in Colombo on 17th May 2005.

An assessment of the plan carried out for the Rebuild Sri Lanka Trust said A?a??E?the most important shortcoming is that it has largely been produced in isolation in Colombo, with little or no stakeholder involvement. It is evident that the team spent only two days in Pottuvil – Arugam Bay, and apart from the GA officer in Ampara and the DS in Pottuvil, they met only with INGO staff.A?a??a??

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1 Response to “Master plans being developed”

  • The Master plan starts with the idea that:
    ‘The objective is to put in place a new infrastructure and systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century and fulfil the dreams and aspirations of a modern society’.
    This modern society includes high-end tourism, export agriculture and manufacturing and large-scale fisheries. It clearly does not include small-scale fishing, subsistence farming or community-based tourism.

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