Updated: Oct 26
The 23rd of September 2023 marked a significant gathering in Kalutara, as leaders and women farmers came together to discuss the impending construction of the Ruwanpura Highway stretch from Kahathuduwa to Palmadulla. The event was organized by Janavaboda Kendraya, a member of the Alliance of Sustainable Infrastructure (ASI). The discussion focused on the damage already incurred and the potential threats to the farmer community. This article amalgamates three drafts from the discussion and presents a comprehensive overview of the event and its outcomes.
Understanding the Issue
The discussion began with an acknowledgment of the damage that has already taken place and the potential threats posed by the proposed highway. Key points highlighted during the discussion included the need for a comprehensive survey to collect data on the existing damage. This data would encompass the geographic area affected, the number of Grama Seva divisions, families, and individual persons affected, as well as the intensity of property and building damage. Furthermore, it was imperative to assess the extent of cultivated land and residential areas impacted by the construction.
Compensation and organization
The disrupted compensation process for acquired lands was a matter of concern among the participants. It was unanimously agreed that reorganizing the different groups formed to respond to these issues was essential. As a proactive step, the leaders decided to engage with various small groups to gather as much data as possible. The youth group pledged to contribute by creating a short video that would include interviews with affected communities.
Formation of a People's Memorandum
After the collection and compilation of all gathered information, participants reached a agreement that this data could be formulated into a people's memorandum with the involvement of all concerned parties. Moreover, it was decided to reach out to a qualified environmentalist and organize a public forum as a validation step for the prepared memorandum. It was also noted that the data already collected by the Citizen Committee of Kalutara District, affiliated with the People's Movement for a Better World, should be included in the report. This data collection, validation, and report compilation were slated to be completed between October 3rd and 20th, 2023.
The Kalutara leaders and women farmers collection event on September 23, 2023, stands as a beacon of collective action and a demonstration of community resilience. As they rally together to address the challenges posed by the Ruwanpura Highway, their commitment to proper data collection, reorganization, and forming a people's memorandum serves as an inspiring example of grassroots activism. This united effort is a testament to the power of communities coming together to protect their interests and the environment.
Written by Shanika Gamage, Communications Coordinator, ASI
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article reflect the author’s views, and not the wider views of the Alliance for Sustainable Infrastructure.