Leisure parks to be developed
a year ago
By Uwin Lugoda The development and maintenance of two leisure parks located in the suburbs of Colombo have commenced under the purview of the Urban Development Authority (UDA), The Sunday Morning learnt. Diyatha Uyana located in Battaramulla and the Urban Wetland Park located in Nawala are set to be renovated and regularly maintained, according to the UDA. Speaking to us, UDA Media Spokesperson Prasad Manju stated that the authority received instructions from Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to carry out the renovation and maintenance of both sites. He stated that both parks had suffered from a lack of proper maintenance over the years, leading to the pollution of the water bodies and canals in the vicinity of the parks. He explained that these new renovation and maintenance initiatives will reverse the neglect the parks suffered over the years and attract both locals and international tourists. Diyatha Uyana Manju stated that Diyatha Uyana and its adjoining features will receive streamlined maintenance services, making it more presentable to the public. He explained that the park, which was launched in 2012, needs regular maintenance due to it attracting large groups of people daily. “We initially developed the Diyawanna Oya in 2010 to withstand the high water capacity when flooding and then developed it further into an urban wetland park, enhancing the urban aesthetics of the city and atmospheric humidity. The park has since been a popular attraction amongst the locals, which also meant that there was a greater need for maintenance,” he said. He stated that this new renovation and maintenance scheme will also be extended to the Diyatha Station Train Restaurant. “The park has not been maintained for a long time, and the same goes for the restaurant. This led to it attracting less of a crowd. But with the UDA’s new maintenance programme, we are seeing some improvement, and we see both the park and the restaurant attracting more crowds,” said Manju. Located on the opposite bank of Diyawanna, the restaurant was built to look like a train parked at a train station and serves local food and beverages as well as Indian and Chinese dishes. Diyatha Station consists of four compartments, with three of them being air-conditioned, and can host up to 250 people at a time. It was initially developed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in his former post as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development, and is currently being managed by Waters Edge which operates under the UDA. Moreover, maintenance activities were also extended to the weekly fairs that take place in the Diyatha Uyana premises that is a marketing hub for entrepreneurs engaged in selling ornamental flowers, floriculture products, agro equipment and crops, and fresh vegetables and fruits. These weekend fairs host around 12 stalls for food and beverages and another 164 stalls for green products. Manju stated that the UDA also arranged eco-friendly transport from the carpark to the stalls for those who visit the fairs. The UDA also looked into providing a high level of security and management for these fairs, so that they become a haven for the self-employed in the country. “Since we began our maintenance scheme for the restaurant, park, and all of its adjoining features, Diyatha Uyana has begun to attract more crowds, both local and foreign,” Manju said. Nawala Urban Wetland Park Manju stated that the renovation and the maintenance of the Urban Wetland Park in Nawala began, as instructed by the Prime Minister, after taking into consideration a request of the public. He explained that over the last four-and-a-half years, the park had been ignored, leading to the pollution of the Heen Canal which surrounds the park. “The maintenance of the park was not done regularly, and the public reached out to the UDA about garbage being accumulated in the Heen Canal. Following this, we initiated a clean-up of the canal, and now it is returning to its natural state,” he said. He went on to state that the public also requested more security within the park, something the UDA was working on. These canals were initially an attempt at mitigating the flooding of the Western Province by building a system of waterways to divert the excess flow coming in from the Diyawanna Oya to the Heen Canal through Wellawatte. Then in 2014, President Rajapaksa, as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development at the time, transformed Weli Park, which was at the centre of the Heen Canal, into the current Nawala Urban Wetland Park. Spanning a total of 16 acres and costing the UDA Rs. 82 million, the park consists of a walking lane, a children’s playground, and a gym.