Development News: The Somawathiya Rajamaha Viharaya believed to have been built in the second century BC is located within the Somawathiya National Park on the left bank of the Mahaweli River. Each year during the rainy season, the Somawathi Area encounters heavy floods and as a result many pilgrims become stranded.
On the instructions of Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the President of the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lanka Air Force was tasked with the construction of an elevated helipad for the Somawathiya Rajamaha Viharaya. This was to enable SLAF Helicopters the opportunity to evacuate civilians if required or to bring in required supplies during flooding.
Under the directive of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, an Engineering Team from the Civil Engineering Wing at Katunayake made up of 50 airmen and led by Flight Lieutenant AGNB Nuwan was deployed to construct this elevated Helipad by the Directorate of Civil Engineering. The construction of the helipad was carried out under the supervision of the Base Commander of SLAF Base Hingurakgoda, Group Captain Dhammika Dias who was responsible for all logistical and administrative support required to complete the project.
The newly constructed elevated helipad is 12 Feet above the ground level and also has an access way bridge connecting the helipad to a nearby Seemamalakaya. During a feasibility study which was conducted by the SLAF it was found that the average water level is approximately 7 to 8 feet. As such, the helipad will be at least 4 feet above the water level and will be safe for helicopter landings.
The completed helipad was declared open today by His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa (30 May 2020) and handed over to the Chief Incumbent of the Somawathiya Rajamaha Viharaya, Venerable Pahamune Sri Sumangala Thero in the presence of the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sumangala Dias and the Base Commander of SLAF Base Hingurakgoda, Group Captain Dhammika Dias.