(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Diyatha Uyana or the Park by the Lake in Battaramulla, in the outskirts of Colombo has many interesting places and activities such as, a water retention lake, walkway, aquarium, flower shops, water fountain, foods stalls, a restaurant, boat rides and a children’s play area.
The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation & Development Corporation (SLLR&DC) was instrumental in developing this area. Additional Secretary, Ministry of Megapolis, Madhawa Waidyaratna says, “If you look at an old map of the area, this was originally a marshy land which was developed into a more organized land patch by the SLLR&DC. The whole area is about 88 hectares. The purview of the SLLR&DC is to keep the water retention situation in a particular area and so marshes served as water retention areas to avoid unnecessary flooding. Usually in these areas we have such low lying lands which act as water retention areas. Certain areas have been developed and they have improved the water flow by creating the watershed or a lake which has increased the water retention.
The whole Diyatha Uyana area consists of a lower catchment area of Diyawanna Oya. The SLLR&DC has improved the water retention capacity. We have a walking path surrounding the lake and a commercial area where we have stalls promoting small and medium scale entrepreneurs. The lake covers a 50 acre area and surrounding it the walking path is about 8oo meters long. Then we have bio diversity and eco friendly areas.”
“There are still remnants of the earlier marsh area. The commercial area which is visible from the main road has 164 stalls. In the middle is the restaurant area which has about 12 restaurants.
Apart from that amongst the activities happening we have the boat rides with swan boats which run on the lake. We have a ferry service, the floating restaurant which is operated by the Water’s Edge together with the Navy. There is a children’s play area and car parking separately. We have a water fountain. We have a solar powered green energy based transportation system. It is estimated that we have around 10,000 visitors per day on a weekend and about 5,000 on a week day,” Waidyaratna says.
There is a lot of land available owned by the UDA and a lot of activities have been planned in the future. Waidyaratna further explains, “This place is developed to be a key place in the floriculture industry with lots of flowers, flower plants and certain stalls.
Ninety five percent is for flowers and there are accessories like pots and fertilizers and other equipment needed for planting are also available. We have the flower stalls on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On other days, excluding Monday which we leave for maintenance, we sell fruits and vegetables. The SLLR&DC recently started the operation to sell compost and fertilizer which is generated through the compost yards. We are selling the compost at very concessionary rates at Diyatha Uyana.” “Water’s Edge is going to initiate new activities in the hotel premises as well as the vicinity. In the Hotel premises, they are going to start an orchid garden in June which will have about 300 varieties of orchids. Water’s Edge is a subsidiary of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and it is a UDA owned company. We are planning amusement and leisure activities around the Hotel. There are vacant lands in Diyatha Uyana and there are five activities planned. We will be installing a Colombo Eye which is similar to the London Eye and by the end of this year it will be up and running. It is a Ferris wheel which is 40 metres in diameter.
The entire area is going to be called the Fantasy Island. We are also planning to have ice skating and water skating activities and a snow room as well as activities like bungee jumping. In the near future, the UDA will be calling for proposals to initiate leisure activities.
These lands are meant for water retention and so you can’t develop them as big projects with permanent buildings but this is very much suitable for leisure activities because we also have the Diyawanna Oya. These lands will also be developed as leisure activity centres by the UDA,” Waidyaratna says.
“The Water’s Edge is also planning a sports complex with indoor games such as, table tennis, badminton and carom. The floating restaurant is a ferry which has been converted into a dining hall and it travels around the lake.
Along this Diyawanna Lake we have initiated starting a water based transportation system with boats and we are in the process of creating new jetties required for that for public transport to Diyatha.
What we want is to create an all-inclusive environment which consists of bio diversity, the watershed, water front, leisure and amusement activities within a short distance.
It is going to be the centre of attraction for local people as well as tourists. Battaramulla and the surrounding areas will be the future administrative center of Sri Lanka since Colombo is congested. We need to shift some of the functions out of Colombo and the administrative functions will be shifted to the Battaramulla, Kotte and surrounding areas.
All the government ministries, government corporations and agencies will be relocated in Battaramulla. For that we will be creating new buildings, and within the next five to ten years this area is going to be a very busy place,” Waidyaratna says.