3 July, 2020

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Colombo Port City, Sand Mining, Fishing & The Protest

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Government sources inform that construction work on the Colombo Port City (CPC) now baptized by our Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the International Financial City (IFC) will resume in October. Distressed local Fishermen now inform that the destructive sand mining by the Chinese have already begun.

This project was publicly opposed by the incumbent President and Prime Minister while they were in opposition. The reason given by then leader of opposition and now the Prime Minister during his election campaign for halting this was that the coast from Kalpitiya up to Hikkaduwa will be washed away into the sea. Although the decision to resume work has been taken, the measures taken to prevent such destruction to the coast has not been identified.

Citizens of our country have identified a number of environmental hazards, in addition to the destruction caused by sand mining that necessitates the halting of this project. The government has been informed of these facts.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Report itself forecast that the livelihoods for fishermen will be lost for 3 years due to sand mining. Strangely, the report has not guaranteed when the marine environment will be back to normal enabling the fishermen to resume their livelihoods their only source of income.port-city

The destruction of the corals and the reefs which are the fish breeding and feeding grounds will be disturbed due to sand mining and dumping. It may take a long period of time perhaps 30 years or more to recover or the coral reefs may not even recover due to the effects of climate change.

Fishermen are greatly alarmed by the massive volume of sand mining 60 million cubic meters taking place near a thin reef between sea and their lagoon. Environmentalists state that this natural reef which protects our land from storms and lashing waves is now weakened due to Chinese sand mining activities. If these destructive activities continue, fisherman fear that the reef Thalahena Peruwa may collapse resulting in the sea entering the lagoon causing a massive environmental and human tragedy in Kepungoda as people will have to flee for their lives, as the sea inundates the land.

This projects damages not only the marine and the human environment in the coastal area but also the interior of the country due to rock mining. The granite requirement to reclaim the sea area of 269 hectares, is 3.45 millions cubic meters. No adequate study has been done about the impact of granite mining.

These matters have been raised by independent experts. Unfortunately, our political leadership is not wise enough to listen to them. People have protested on number of occasions since the inception of this Project during the previous regime. In Dec 2014 and in March 2015 over 300 petitions were handed to the coast conservation department, on the 6th of Jan to the secretaries of the President and Prime Minister on the 6th of April 2016 a protest was held at the Galle Face Green.

It now appears that people’s opinion do not seem to matter to the the “Yahapalanaya” leadership. The government seems so arrogant that it is ready carry out policies which the environmentalists warn presenting evidence, of possible disasters to people and the environment.

Another matter of great importance is the secrecy that is maintained by both former President and the incumbent Prime Minister about the agreements signed between the Sri Lanka and China.

That leaves enough room for suspicion that the content of the agreements are purposely hidden from people, because the conditions in the agreements are not favorable to the citizens.

The above environmentally detrimental activities are destroying Sri Lanka’s centuries old Coastal Fishing Trade the only livelihood of our coastal fisher-folk. Therefore a protest was held by these fishermen, who brave the seas each day to provide us with fresh fish, in 8 fishing villages from Kammalthota to Uswetakeiyawa. In some villages the fishermen did not go to Sea for fishing. This very successful protest was organized by the People’s Movement against the Port City. It was held at village level from 10.00am – 12.00pm. Several members of the clergy and number of Civil Society members actively participated in this event.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    5

    Father Sarath,

    You are out of depth in these economic ventures. Look after your flock and live on their charity, without trying to make all of us a deeply indebted nation of beggars. There are far too many people like you who kill all foreign investments and keep us in this economic rut.

    • 6
      0

      Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

      RE: Colombo Port City, Sand Mining, Fishing & The Protest

      “It now appears that people’s opinion do not seem to matter to the the “Yahapalanaya” leadership. The government seems so arrogant that it is ready carry out policies which the environmentalists warn presenting evidence, of possible disasters to people and the environment.”

      There is no question this is a national disaster.

      Why did they do it? Mahinda Rajapaksa did it for

      1. This Ego reasons
      2. For getting hefty commissions
      3. Did not care for the Environmental Disaster, just like the Mattala Airport and Jungle-bird Sanctuary Destruction.

      However, now we expecting the same from this so-called Yahapalansaa? Good Governance?

      Or is a Environmental Destruction Governance?

      • 4
        0

        Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

        RE: Colombo Port City, Sand Mining, Fishing & The Protest

        “This project was publicly opposed by the incumbent President and Prime Minister while they were in opposition. The reason given by then leader of opposition and now the Prime Minister during his election campaign for halting this was that the coast from Kalpitiya up to Hikkaduwa will be washed away into the sea. Although the decision to resume work has been taken, the measures taken to prevent such destruction to the coast has not been identified.”

        The incumbent President and Prime Minister got converted on the Road to Beijing, just like Paul got converted on the road to Dasmacus.

        Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, Amarasiri have two simple questions.

        1. Did Paul(Saul) believe in the Trinity, God, Son and the Holy Ghost? Or was it so, something that was was formulated at the Council of Nicaea?

        2. According to the New Testament, Jesus, Christ, “Son of God” said:

        Why did Jesus say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

        If Trinity is True, why would God. Jesus, ask himself, why have you forsaken me?

        Of course, the Trinity Hypothesis, has opened Pandora’s Box. The Christian apologist say:

        It appears that when Jesus took the sin of all people upon Himself, a separation came between Him and God that had never before existed. So when Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” it was because He was experiencing a brokenness in His relationship with God the Father that they had never before experienced.

        May be the incumbent President and Prime Minister can come up with a similar explanation.

        • 4
          0

          Thanks for this article.

          The honest and RIGHT THING for Ranil-Sira Ayahapalanaya Govt to do is to

          1. Ask China for DEBT CANCELLATION and go to ARBITRATION to stop the abortive port city.

          2. Arrest Mahinda Jarapassa and his family for their Financial Crime, cease their assets and pay off the national DEBT.

          The China Port City in COlombo is an environmental and financial disaster for Sri Lanka. China has created such disasters and DEBT in Burma and other Asian countries and Africa.

          But unfortunately, Ranil-Sira are as DISHONEST as Jarapassa. Theri policy too is Steal from the poor, destroy their livelihoods to benefit the rich and GLOBAL 1 PERCENT who want off shore financial port cities to keep their bank accounts full of ill gotten wealth.

          All this is in the name of Yahaplananya which is ONLY to fatten the corrupt politicians at the expense of the poor. Piling on VAT taxes to pay for the massive NATIONAL DEBT due to POLITICAL CORRUPTION by UNP and SLFP at IMF behest.

          Mahinda Jarapassa and his corrupt family must be tried and convicted for their FINANCIAL CRIMES with China against the people of Sri Lanka. But rather Gota and Yo baby are globe trotting on overseas jaunts while the people suffer!

    • 5
      0

      Truth – looks like you are missing the forest for the trees!

      It is precisely because of folk like you who haven’t a clue about the long-term effects of unplanned ‘development’ (at the cost of the thousands of species that will be affected by myopic and/or ignorant politicians) that much of the environmental degradation has been caused in countries around the world.

      Must we blindly follow your type of “flock” to re-visit all the mistakes that have been made in the past or learn from their mistakes and have a more enlightened approach to ‘development’?

      Wake up and take a look around!

  • 3
    1

    Father Iddamalgoda
    Please understand that the economic welfare of the nation is very important.

    When the Mahaweli project was conceived NGOO protested saying that lage water bodies in the hill country was nonviable .But Mousakeelle Laxapana ,Castlereag was a resounding success even then.
    Then they said that the free trade Zone will be human slavery in 20th century.Today we produce the best quality garments and also bring in a large amount foreign exchange.

    When the port city started there were no objections till the Rajapaksas were were thrown out of power.
    Now every body has seen the light/the viability, except your NGOO.
    Remember Jesus said do not bury your talents in the ground but make them multiply.

    Sow the seed on fertile ground was the example of the sower.

    The potential advantage to the Sri Lankan economy and society is much more then the griping NGOO talk about.

    These NGOO are paid for mostly by the US/UK lobby that is against the economic progress of the Chinese !
    Dont you see that you are being made use of by the YANKS and the HINDIANS????

    • 3
      0

      Liverpool Sudda

      “These NGOO are paid for mostly by the US/UK lobby that is against the economic progress of the Chinese ! Dont you see that you are being made use of by the YANKS and the HINDIANS????”

      Is that the real Geopolitical Reason?

      Are the Economic Benefits Real? Has an independent benefits and risks assessment been done on this Harbor project. Mahaveli benefits far outweighs the risks.

  • 3
    0

    Dear Father, reclaiming sea is not a new phenoman. In many countries, they are doing it for economic prosperity. In Maldives they have reclaimed and built lot of resorts and they are bringing in lot of revenue for them, in addition to creating thousands of job for their forks. In Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong too they are doing it and benefiting immensely. In Melaka, Malaysia, half of the city is in
    reclaimed land. In Japan Osaka airport is in the middle of the sea 50km from the shores. With all these their fishermen are bringing in bigger and bigger catches.

    When the British built up Hong Kong all the multinational companies set up their Asian regional operations there. When Mr. Lee Kwan You, developed Singapore, he pulled most of them there by offering better facilities.

    Now, India is the fastest growing country in the world, it has over taken China and South Asia too moving ahead with over 1.5 billion consumers. If we develop the Port City well, all these multinational companies would set up their South Asian regional offices here. We have to offer them up to date and world class facilities for the them to move their personnel and their families. This would give a big boost to the country and economy as well.

    Also the value of the Offshore banking of the tinny Cayman Island is over two trillion dollars, almost equal to the GDP of Great Britain. It’s the same story with other offshore centers – like Luxembourg, Channels Islands etc. All these are legitimate money, if it’s dirty money, the US would have run them as they are in it’s back door. Think about the benefits the Financial City would give to the country.

    • 0
      2

      Financial city in one of the most corrupt countries in the world?
      Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai,etc.etc. are never going to lose customers to our banana republic.
      The sergeant who killed Sunday leader editor promoted and salary paid while on remand? Give us a break?

      • 2
        1

        Shami;
        Are Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai etc., the Bench Marks of Development, in your Book?

        Rather in the Modern ‘Eco Aware’ World we should be looking at Countries like Bhutan, as the Guideline for Development of the Future!

  • 1
    0

    Father Sarath,
    There is no doubt that reclaiming sea is detrimental to the environment. Now we have to be realistic to understand that all the eggs have broken to make the omelette and there is no way we can unbreak them again. What ever happens now we have to go along with the Port/Financial City project.

    • 4
      1

      Do you mean that at the expense of the poor.

      • 1
        0

        Yes Father, they can be otherwise compensated with manual jobs rising out of the new venture – if you can cordinate same? Peogress means change.

  • 4
    1

    I thank all those who have made above comments and criticisms. There are some who are vey much convinced that this project is going bring great benefits to the country.

    What percentage of our people would benefit from this project? What are those benefits? What benefits would it bring to the fishermen?

    Hope those who argue for it will explain. Such information will be very useful for us to form our thoughts.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Father

    The objective of early objection has been achieved and as such we are at a loss to understand what you are trying to say.

    Soma

    • 2
      0

      May I kindly request you or anyone else to enlighten us on what objectives of the early objections have already been achieved?

      Among several objections an important one that have been raised by many of us, is the destruction that would be caused to the marine enviroment and the interior Of the country where rock mining is done.

      Please tell us what actions have been taken to prevent such destruction?

      • 0
        0

        Respected Father

        Objective was achieved on Jan 8, 2015

        It was suspended targeting August Elections.

        You seem to be a lone voice in the wilderness. Where are the others who shouted apakalipto if this project was implemented? Where are those who told us that Chinese loans are a death trap and China was an economic hit man. Who is responsible for the temporary suspension giving rise a damage claim of U$ 225 million which was compensated by granting additional land to the Chinese?

        Honestly I am at a loss to understand a man of your intellect has failed to understand the objective of pre election objections to this project. And now that the name has been changed to ‘Financial City’ how can there be any adverse environmental impact henceforth?

        Soma

  • 2
    0

    Why is a secrecy being maintained about this project.
    The full details should be published and made available to the media.
    The MS/RW government probably fears criticism about the cost which probably has indebted many generations to come.

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda,

    Thank you for continuing your campaign. Unfortunately the country is bankrupt and money has to be borrowed from the Chinese. Nobody else will help us without painful conditions.

    Future will show that you were right.

    • 1
      0

      Lone Wolf;
      “Future will show that you were right.”

      ‘Development’ is seen as a Desired Objective by the Commentators on this Article.

      Most of the ‘Developed’ Countries are now trying to Repair the Irreparable Damage, this Attitude has done to the Environment of our One and Only Planet!!

  • 0
    1

    Not only the Chinese, Iddamalgoda’s Vatican too have money.
    That is the richest organisation in the world. Iddamalgoda is one of its foot soldiers.

    Shelve the Port City and dump the Chinese.
    Go with Iddamalgoda and burrow from the Holy Roman Empire to develop sri lanka.

  • 0
    0

    The very reason that Christian theologies whom that an opposed to the Port City projects funded by China no any other reason ,they do not like to see National economic development after Independent of Ceylon 1948.

    Their political line of thinking and ideology of theologies never permitted them see Sri lanka that economically become an independent and Sovereignty prospers country. Their wishes are seems to be that nation of Sri lanak be remain in the Economically poor and backward country for ever.

    What is a Christian theological dream as same as expected by the British colonialism of UK and USA lost political power in our Island.
    They want we nation live under their mercy. We not for that ,we have Right to developed our National Economy and that life line must be improved by ours own efforts.

    No doubt China Port City project is added our National wealth.
    Ongoing city project will contribution to Nation- GDP is unprecedented scale.

    The particular Christian theologies is known very well which has been undermined Port City projects which that sharply calculated mission undertaken of Environment issue the only slogan has taken up by their own foreign parties interest.

    In such way they can misled masses of people that People of majority have NO knowledge of Ocean Environment has not gone through assessments of Sea environment by real& skill environmentalists.
    The Theologies of Christian priest are far lagging behind for such accurate skill on judgment of Port City environment assessments.

    The “God created Universe” also has to be Re-evaluated by New Era of renansainaces .

  • 1
    0

    I have great respect for Fr. Sarath Idamalgoda and his deep concern for his flock and the general public. But I have confidence the learned
    Ranil, with a few mistakes in his past and his marginally arrogant and reserved nature, will not harm the public good. Unlike the crooked Rajapakses Ranil will not sell the country for his private avaricious gain. Universally, there is often conflict in the battle for development and the preservation of the environment. I believe patriotic leaders from respectable, comfortable backgrounds like Ranil, Malik, CBK could be depended on to be on the side of the people.

    It is, however, the duty of the government to ensure whatever losses the poor fisher folk engage by these changes to their source of income and their future must be duly assessed and compensated.

    Thank you for your social responsibility, Fr. Iddamalgoda.

    Backlash

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