There is a major road development activity taking place along the approach road to the Yala National Park. It appears that the road is being widened to a 40 ft roadway, with the scrub vegetation on either side being cleared for the expansion. Huge concrete culverts are being built, and is finished with a tarmac surface (or ‘carpeted’ as we know it).
Large Concrete culverts across a 40 foot roadway
Pic Chamara Amarasinghe
Big Boulders strewn all over damaging the environment…Pic Srilal Miththapala
My concern is that this will only aggravate the current problem of speeding of vehicles, (particularly jeep drivers) along this road, which can have a disastrous impact on animal life. Although this stretch of road of about 10-15 kms is technically outside the national park, it is still well within the buffer zone of the park.
Often, wild animals are to be seen crossing this stretch of the road, and speeding vehicles can cause serious injury to them. In fact, there is on record, several instances already, where animals have been knocked down by vehicles speeding along this stretch.
A leopard run over at yala.
Pic Spencer Manuaelpillai ..from an article entitled ” Continous Rape of Sri Lanka’s Natural Wealth” by Dr Sriyanie Miththapala
It is reported that this road has been rehabilitated due to requests by the many hotels that have come up in the area of late. There is no doubt that the original road was in bad condition, and had in particular, some bad ‘corrugations’ where driving was quite an arduous task. However, this does not mean that enormous sums of money needed to be spent, to broaden this roadway and bring it up to a top end ‘highway’.
All that was needed was to repair some of the culverts with the very effective and practical ‘sapatthu palama’ design (‘shoe design’ culvert, which allows water to overflow over the culvert during heavy rains) and smoothen the surface of the road for more comfortable driving. This would have effectively maintained the ‘rustic’ ambiance and character of the road, in keeping with a wild life park.