Plans to dam the Athwelthota waterfall, Sri Lanka could have serious consequences for people and the local ecosystem.

The Sri Lankan Central Environmental Authority and the Forest Department have granted permission to Sakura Energy, a Sri Lankan power company to build a dam on the Athwelthota waterfall, in the Morapitiya- Athwelthota area.

This waterfall holds a special place in Sri Lanka’s history and draws many locals and tourists each year.

The affected section of the river is home to at least eighteen endemic fish species. Two of these species are not found anywhere else in the world. Changes in water current and siltation could have serious consequences for the habitats of these highly endangered species.

Changes in water flow could also raise the risk of rainy-season flooding in the area.

Image: Buddhist monks protest to save the Athwelthota waterfall