Developing the Hamilton Canal, Negombo to make it a scenic attraction for tourists commenced on last Sunday(Feb17) under the Economic Development Ministry’s Tourism Resources Development Programme. Over Rs.600 million has been allocated for this project on a proposal made by Minister Basil Rajapaksa under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s guidance.
The project covers a distance of 22 kilometres from Ma Oya to the mouth of the Kelani River as a part of a plan – drawn up by the Moratuwa University – to develop the Negombo tourism region. During the 15th Century under King Vira Parakramabahu VIII, Negombo lagoon served as the main seaport for trading in cinnamon and other commodities.
According to the GCEC Environmental profile of Muthurajawela and Negombo Lagoon (March 1991), it was this king who initiated the canal project to facilitate access and transport of goods. The Dutch improved upon it and is presently called the Dutch canal, linking Kelani River with the Negombo lagoon to the east of Muturajawela.
The Canal in its present form was completed during the early British period in 1802. That year British Revenue and Commerce Agent Garvin Hamilton started a new canal (now named Hamilton) to the east of the earlier Dutch canal meant to link the latter with a series of parallel canals.
The canal and its vicinity is of much environmental importance since the area is home to different species of fish, birds and plants and rich in bio-diversity, making it ideal for eco-tourism. In view of this, embankments will be built to protect the canal banks and either side of the waterway will be beautified. In addition, the canal will be de-silted and steps will be taken to prevent pollution so that tourists will have the opportunity of travelling by boat from Negombo to places like Muthurajawela, Kelani Vihara and Danduganna Oya along Hamilton Canal with no difficulty.
Already the first stage of the project is underway with the development of a nine kilometre-stretch from Ma Oya to Negombo. The work on the 14 km-distance from Negombo Lagoon to the mouth of the Kelani River at Hekiththa commenced on Sunday with the participation of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. The work has been undertaken by the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation.
After meeting the requirements of tourists visiting the area, facilities for fishermen such as marketing stalls and jetties for boats will be constructed. After the entire project is completed the Western Province Tourism Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority(SLTDA) with the assistance of the people of the area will jointly supervise the canal’s functions.
Fisheries Deputy Minister Sarath Gunaratne, Western Province Minister Nimal Lansa, Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Thyagaratne Alwis, Gampaha District secretary G.A. Chandrasiri and Provincial Road Development Authority General Manager Eng. RMS Bandaranayake were among the large number of people present at the event.