Road in Sinharaja completed without harming environment: Johnston

  • Johnston allege opposition and critics engaged in fear mongering 

The road from Lankagama to Neluwa within the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which was the subject of much controversy in 2020, has been constructed without harming the ecosystem, the Ministry of Highways said yesterday (1). 

“98% of the work has been completed and will be vested with the public soon. Gratitude to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for giving the strength to complete the project,” stated Chief Government Whip and Minister of Highways Johnston Fernando, in response to a question raised by a journalist regarding the construction progress of the road. 

He charged that the main Opposition and other opposition political parties spoke against the construction of the road from Lankagama to Neluwa since the day the constructions commenced. 

“None of them said anything positive when this road was being built. They didn’t come to witness the progress. As the Minister in charge of Highways, I said on several occasions in Parliament and outside as well that I would provide a vehicle and all other facilities to visit Lankagama and see how this road is being constructed. However, what the Opposition did was join with the JVP and various people and launch protests against the construction of this road, while remaining in Colombo. They said that the Sinharaja would be destroyed and trees are being cut down. Did any harm befall Sinharaja?” 

He also claimed that no trees were cut down in the construction of this road. 

“They told the entire world that the Rajapaksas were cutting down trees in the Sinharaja Forest on a large scale to build this road. We did not cut down any trees to build this road. The construction work of this road was carried out by the Engineering Corps of the Sri Lanka Army under the direct supervision of the Road Development Authority,” he added. 

In mid to late 2020 many environmentalists charged that the construction of the road would harm the Sinharaja World Heritage site and that it would negatively impact the diverse flora and fauna in the forest.