‘Port City: Indian pressure forced SL to suspend and revisit project’
Posted on August 4th, 2016

Ranil Senanayake Courtesy The Island

The recent statement from the Cabinet spokesman on the ‘Port City’ project is a slap in the face of the many Sri Lankans, who lobbied and protested this project on legal, as well as health and safety grounds. According to him, it was not Sri Lankans who pointed out the vexing issues behind the land ownership questions under the original agreement, it was Indians!

He is reported to have stated that: “the Chinese funded ‘Port City Project’ (PCP) initiated by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had to be suspended and re-visited under pressure from India. It was the Indian government that forewarned Sri Lanka of the negatives in the event Sri Lanka went ahead. India said once completed, the project will not come under the jurisdiction of Sri Lanka with a big question mark on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty”

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What the Port City is expected to look like upon completion

Pressure from India? If this is the voice of our cabinet, I wonder where their eyes and ears are. Did they not see or hear of the press articles, public presentations, and public protests seeking to inform the government of the social, health, environmental costs of this project that has not been considered in the original EIA? Proceeding without a valid EIA is illegal; no supplementary EIA as requested has yet been submitted. I am sure most of the informed public would have been aware of the public protests during the last year and a half. But the cabinet seems to have been unaware. We wrote, researched, organized, protested etc, we thought that our voices were heard by the government, but the cabinet spokesman says no! Our voices are unheard; the cabinet hears only the voice of India.

The shortcomings of the EIA have been pointed out and it seems impossible for a democratic, responsible government to permit this project to proceed until a comprehensive EIA has been filed. A comprehensive EIA will be one that includes the concerns listed below.

(1) Air Quality. The pollution from the new city will be swept into Colombo city by the prevailing sea breeze. Will there be controls of the air quality in the new city, so that the residents of Colombo will not have to suffer increased rates of emphysema, lung cancer and related illnesses? How will the standards for air quality from the new city be set and monitored?

(2) Water Quality. The new city will need huge quantities of fresh water for its use. Where will this water come from? There is not enough surface water in the Kelani basin to supply such a quantity. Will the citizens of this nation have to compete with the new city for its fresh water? Will we lose our water rights?

(3) Energy. Where will the energy to operate the new city come from? At the moment we are promoting dangerous coal fired power plants that have been demonstrated to bring ill health to our citizens, destroy our agriculture, poison our fishery and ruin our heritage. At the moment over 50% of the energy needs of the country are generated from fossil fuels. Will these new energy needs be met with more such polluting power generation being foisted on our nation?

(4) Garbage and pollution. Who will deal with the garbage and toxic effluents that will be generated by the new city? Will Sri Lanka be used as the dumping ground for the new city? What waste treatment plans are in place, recognized by the current EIA? If the citizens of the new city are expected to generate waste at similar levels like in the new cities in the UAE, each person will generate around 2.5kg of waste per day, which at over 900kg an year, will see a garbage mountain from the Port City exceeding 180,000 tons per annum. Where will this go?

(5) Carbon Footprint. As cement generates 16 times the heating effect that CO2 does in terms of global warming, and a massive input of fossil energy will go to construct and maintain the infrastructure, the Carbon footprint of this city must be calculated and determined if it will be a part of the ‘National Footprint’ for Climate Change deliberations. The garbage mountain will also figure in this calculation as landfills are one of the largest anthropogenic emitters of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane (CH4). For instance, in 2006, landfills in the U.S. emitted 6,211 tons—34% of the total U.S. methane emissions (equivalent to 130.4 million tons of CO2). Methane as a greenhouse gas has 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide (CO2).

(6) Destruction of the land environment. The massive amount of rocks that will be used in filling up the sea has to come from our land. What will be the effects of this blasting and quarrying? We have already witnessed the earth slips and erosion at Koslanda and elsewhere through bad land use practices.

There are many other considerations including offshore sand transport, marine biodiversity and climate change impacts that should appear in a reasonable EIA. Thus, it is clear that any ‘comprehensive review’ will have to address these issues.

These are the real issues, not attempting to please one country or another at the cost to Sri Lanka. If the cabinet is deaf to the voices of the people and hear only the voices of other countries to negotiate our land; If this nation is treated as a negotiating chip for the economic benefit of others , ignoring the concerns and well being of the people, the government will lose its credibility and we are heading into difficult times indeed!

Ranil Senanayake

4 Responses to “‘Port City: Indian pressure forced SL to suspend and revisit project’”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    India has over 400 million poor people and over 40 million people in India are unemployed. If this ETCA is signed and the Hanuman bridge is built all these desperate people in India will come in droves to Sri Lanka since the socio-economic situation of Sri Lanka is a million times better than the socio economic situation of India. I would urge the uncaring and cruel Indian government to provide basic housing, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, food and clothing to these desperately poor 400 million Indians rather than spending US 5.2 billion dollars in building a Hanuman bridge to Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka signs this ETCA with India it will be Sri Lanka’s end. Sri Lanka should not sign any such trade deals where people can come here to work freely, unless the country we are signing the ETCA with has a similar or a better socio-economic situation than Sri Lanka. I would urge the uncaring, corrupt and cruel India Government to immediately stop building space stations and nuclear weapons and use that money to provide basic housing, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, food and clothing to the 400 million desperately poor people of India which is a government’s basic responsibility. Sri Lanka should stop immediately the signing of ETCA with India and urge the Indian Government to carry out the above task rather than serving the rich people of India only which the uncaring and cruel Indian Government seems to be doing.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    The writer should realise that these same issues with regard to the environment are valid when considering the Colombo Harbour or even Colombo City. The same issues are valid. Does that mean Sri Lanka is going to terminate the functioning of the Colombo Harbour? Does this mean Colombo city will now stop functioning and everyone there will from now on go live in far away villagers. This writer does not know what and EIA process is even. An EIA should be carried out an the EIA process is an on going process and mitigation measures can and should be taken within an EIA to mitigate any adverse effects on the environment. However this does not mean a critical development for Sri Lanka such as the Port City must be stopped. It should commence as soon as possible once all the required environmental and other permissions are obtained. This project is critical for the future prosperity of Sri Lanka. According to this writer, we should dismantle the Colombo Harbour too since the same environmental concerns apply to the Colombo Harbour and its breakwaters, the many ships using the harbour etc. The same issues apply when it comes to Colombo city too. Please can people such as this stop talking nonsense at least now? An EIA is a process and let it continue where any environmental issues of concern can be addresses via mitigation measures taken. That does not mean this project should not go ahead. It should go ahead as soon as possible. Idiotic UNPers, treacherous elements such as Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala who worship the US,UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, India the TNA and the separatist terrorists are the ones who does not want Sri Lanka to progress.

  3. plumblossom Says:

    Please everyone beware of foreign funded NGOs working for thousands upon thousands of US dollars who used similar issues to bring about ‘regime change’ and defeat the previous Mahinda Rajapakshe Government. We all care about the natural environment of Sri Lanka very much. However these US dollar funded NGOs at that time used the baby elephant issue to the maximum to hoodwink the gullible people of Sri Lanka to think that the previous government was not concerned with regard to baby elephants. Where are these US dollar funded NGOs when this yahapalanaya government is busy cutting down Wilpattu nature reserve etc.? or privatizing everything in sight so that private companies can make huge amounts of money? These same dollar funded NGOs who talked big about baby elephants never talk about the over 2 million stray dogs and cats within Sri Lanka who are suffering. Therefore it is very clear there was a conspiracy by the US,UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists to defeat the previous Mahinda Rajapakshe government and they used many types of NGOs inclusive of those who shouted about baby elephants. Yet they are very silent when Wilpattu nature reserve is cut. Now these same US dollar funded NGOs are shouting about Port City. Therefore it is very clear there is a conspiracy by the US,UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists to ensure Sri Lanka remains a poor, backward backwater where they can obtain their Eelam easily using the large foreign US dollar funded NGO network and this treacherous yahapalanaya government who are their subservient servants and who does what they say.

  4. plumblossom Says:

    Please everyone beware of foreign funded NGOs working for thousands upon thousands of US dollars who used similar issues to bring about ‘regime change’ and defeat the previous Mahinda Rajapakshe Government. We all care about the natural environment of Sri Lanka very much.

    However where are these US dollar funded NGOs when the largest nature reserve in the island Wilpattu is cut? When our entire Northern and Eastern marine eco system is destroyed by illegal fishing by Indian fishermen using illegal fishing methods such as bottom trawling which devastates the sea grasses, the endangered dugong, the mangroves, the coral reefs etc. these NGOs are nowhere to be seen. Also these NGOs shouted out loud about baby elephants but did not urge the previous government and does not urge the present government to erect electric fences to keep off elephants, to create elephants corridors, to initiate a massive education programme to educate farmers to treat elephants humanely and not to harm them in any way. The dollar funded NGOs do not also care about the 2 million stray dogs and cats in the country who are suffering. Also the dollar funded NGOs do not care about the industrial farming of chickens where poor chickens are kept in large sheds in crowded conditions all their lives (industrial farming) and are not allowed to live a normal free life out in the fields as they naturally should (free range and organic farming). Industrial farming is extremely cruel and inhumane. However dollar funded NGOs are only interested in baby elephants and regime change.

    Therefore it is very clear there was a conspiracy by the US,UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists to defeat the previous Mahinda Rajapakshe government and they used many types of NGOs inclusive of those who shouted about baby elephants. Yet they are very silent when Wilpattu nature reserve is cut. Now these same US dollar funded NGOs are shouting about Port City. Therefore it is very clear there is a conspiracy by the US,UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists to ensure Sri Lanka remains a poor, backward backwater where they can obtain their Eelam easily using the large foreign US dollar funded NGO network and this treacherous yahapalanaya government who are their subservient servants and who does what they say.

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