Home » Sri Lanka’s first cable car project faces a stumbling block again

Sri Lanka’s first cable car project faces a stumbling block again

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By: Staff Writer Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s first cable car project, which has been stuck in a regulatory dilemma since 2021 is facing a stumbling block again in receiving  regulatory approval from the Forest Department to break ground. The proposed cable car line from Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya has been halted as a certain Forest Department official was refusing to grant permission to release 150 perches on the Kikiliyamana Mountain without any reason, a government MP revealed. Parliamentarian Madura Vithanage said  that the project is unable saidSAID to be implemented due to this reason even though two Cabinet papers have been presented on the matter in 2018 and 2021. The MP disclosed that the particular Forest Department official has continued to refuse permission to release the required plot of land citing that it is a highly sensitive zone. “I have noticed that telephone towers have been set up in the mountain after clearing a vast area of the forest cover,” he said. He said he studied the project report of the company and realised that the project had been prepared properly so as to protect the environment as well. He said the project is an investment of USD 55 million and that halting such investments is a huge loss to the country Sri Lanka’s first cable car project received the necessary approvals from the Forest Department to proceed, following the personal intervention of President Ranil Wickremasinghe in May 2023. It has now been blocked again by a forest department official taking law on to his hands MP Madura Vithana complained. The project, which is an initiative of Outdoor Engineering Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., was announced in December 2021 and facilitated by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). This cable car project was allotted land in Nuwara Eliya on a 30-year leasehold basis and will involve a total capital investment of € 55 million to construct a 4 km-long cable car line connecting Nanu Oya and the Nuwara Eliya town. According to the MoU signed between Outdoor Engineering Lanka and the SLTDA on 9 December 2021, the project will be implemented on a Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer (BOOT) model basis and upon the expiration of the lease, it will be transferred to the Government. According to Withanage, this project, which was supposed to be completed in 18 months, has been delayed due to the intervention of certain public officers based on their own political ideologies. “This investor brought this cable car investment project to both Sri Lanka and Thailand at the same time back in 2019. This cable car project is already operational in Thailand, but it is yet to break ground in Sri Lanka due to the meddlesome intervention of certain individual officers of Government departments such as the Forest Department. “Sri Lanka has and will continue to struggle to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) because of this kind of careless behaviour of certain public officers who are motivated by certain political ideologies. This cable car project was held up for so long because of the intervention of the same lady officer of the Forest Department who obstructed the highway project,” he charged.
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