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Much hyped Rajapakse Mattala is not a ‘Natthala’(Christmas) -wild elephant launches attack
(Lanka-e-News -14.March.2013, 2.00PM) While the much hyped Mattala Rajapakse international Airport is to be opened on the 18th, exactly five days , that is on the 12th night prior to this inauguration , a wild elephant has run amok on the Hambantota- Mattala highway at the 4th mile post and killed a person. The victim had been traveling along that road when he had been attacked by the elephant , according to residents. Following a complaint made to the Hambantota police by an eye witness who was going along that road , the dead body of the victim had been retrieved.

The police had all along warned individuals traveling along that road of the wild elephant danger, and this is not the first time such a death has occurred following an elephant attack.

It is well to recall that Rajapakse regime with much publicity, pomp and bragging opened a harbor in its Hambantota village some time ago, but for the last two years , only 30 ships had entered that port so far.

Specialists who know about these projects say , this airport much talked and bragged about by the Rajapakses will also be a flop like the seaport .

The reasons adduced by them are:

• When many international air planes do not touch down even at the Katunayake Airport , the opening of another Airport at Mattala is unwarranted , unprofitable and unnecessary.

• During the war , even when the Kafeer air crafts were landing and taking off , there was no air traffic at Katunayake Airport. In that background , of what purpose is another airport after the war has ended?

• Though there are benefits accruing from the Katunayake airport situated amidst Towns like Colombo and Gampaha , the construction of the Airport at Mattala has no such advantages.

• Katunayake can have a free trade zone but not Mattala.

• An Airport should generally have a number of Hotels of international standards in its vicinity but Mattala hasn’t got them yet.

• Among those who arrive in Sri Lanka from abroad and leave are mostly Tamils constituting the Diaspora. To the latter it is convenient to alight at the Katunayake airport and reach their destinations in the East or north of SL , and embark from Katunayake when leaving for abroad rather than from Mattala.

• Among foreigners , it is Indians who mostly visit SL and to reach Katunayake by plane is just two hours ,and arriving in Colombo is also a matter of an hour from Katnayake. On the other hand if they are to land at Mattala , though the flight takes two hours , it takes about 7 hours to travel from Mattala to Colombo after landing. Even after the proposed highway is constructed , it will take about three hours to arrive in Colombo.

• The Mattala Airport has still not received a mandatory international safety standard certificate .

• The Mattala Airport is the first airport constructed by the Chinese ‘China harbor Co.’. Similarly , the Norochcholai coal power plant constructed by a Chinese Co. - its first project , proved itself a total flop.

Experts are of the view the increasing attacks of wild elephants will be an additional risk to be faced by those traveling to and from the Mattala Airport , apart from the demerits already mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs.
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