Nilaveli Beach Today
Posted on November 21st, 2015

By Dr. Tilak S Fernando

 Nilaveli is known as the ‘ open -land of the moon-shine’. Its coastal resort lies approximately 15-16 km North-West of Trincomalee District. One of its main attractions, once upon a time, was its long and sandy beaches and not being overcrowded. This very reason earned its name as ‘the open land of the moonshine’ and became one of the most sought out tourist destinations in the world.

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The tourism had a rough ride during the prolonged 30-year-old terrorist war between the LTTE Tamil Tigers (specially the Sea Tigers controlling this coastal belt) and the Sri Lanka security forces. Added to such misery, the merciless Tsunami managed to decline the use of Nilaveli beaches until the war ended in 2009.  From 2010 onwards, there has been a significant increase in the number of tourists travelling once again to the East Coast of Sri Lanka that had been denied for many years. Of late, Nilaveli has become the cynosure of tourists to Sri Lanka as well as for the locals to visit the long and clean sandy beaches of Nilaveli that stretched for miles.

To accommodate such large numbers of tourists, many star hotels and other guest rooms have sprung up after the elimination of (sea) tigers from the area which are seen  from the town centre up to the beaches. It is habitual for Sri Lankans generally to litter the environment as a rule wherever they go on picnic etc., which contributes to the pollution of the entire environment. Some critics say the habit forming should take place from the kindergarten where the small kids should be taught to pick up even a tiny piece of paper when they see on the ground and put them into a nearest dustbin.

In such a climate of people accepting to litter anywhere they like as the ‘ done thing’ especially at public places where people gather it adds to an additional problem for the authorities to clear; in this regard authorities, especially in tourist areas such as Nilaveli beach should be concerned  and need to pre-plan and execute their far thinking programmes to eliminate unwarranted pollution. Be it the local authority or the Tourist Promotion Bureau, the onus falls on the authorities to keep a close eye on the environment bearing in mind that tourist visit Sri Lankan beaches to relax in a clean environment.

The unfortunate situation that has befallen on this long sandy beach belt is that today it is deteriorating progressively and becoming a dumping yard for litter. Within a matter of weeks, from 31 August 2015 to 26th October 2015, what the writer saw and experienced was indescribable and horrendous.  During a walk up to 1.5 kilo meters from the Nilaveli Beach Hotel and the adjoining new Anilana Hotel, the whole stretch of this long beach was totally littered with all kinds of empty bottles, broken shoes, the odd slippers etc. In other words, a clean beach once enhanced with seashells and soft sand has today become an indecorous display.

Part of this problem lies with the large number of local tourists who visit the beaches and clutter the place in a selfish manner. On the other hand, in the absence of continuous waste bins along the beach (at least on the private beach areas behind each hotel), and also by not making the hotels responsible for maintaining the beach area immediately behind their compounds, will only aggravate the present litter problem to a greater extent. The main drawback appears to be that beyond these star hotel complexes sign boards erected indicate viz: you are entering a private beach beyond this point”! The hotel staff maintain that when they appeal to visitors to refrain from littering the beach they are constantly challenged to  ‘mind their own business’ and reminded the beach area beyond their boundaries does not belong to any hotel but open to the public’!

It is therefore high time that the authorities take some urgent and remedial action not to allow this world-renowned sandy beach becoming a dumping and ugly site soon  which will chase the tourists away! Perhaps the deployment of tourist police on Nilaveli beaches will help to stop the fast deteriorating situation that will definitely affect the tourist industry as a whole.

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