26 November, 2020

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Considerations For The Port City

By Ranil Senanayake

Ranil Senanayake

Ranil Senanayake

It is heartening to see our Government standing up for the rule of law and the protection of our rights and health in the face of corrupt deals made my shadowy individuals with no concern or love for this nation. The Port City project has nothing to do with bi-lateral projects involving the government of China and the government of Sri Lanka. It is a deal struck with a corporation and we should always be conscious of that fact. Fortune 500 or 600 or whatever, a corrupt deal that does not consider the well being of the citizens of a sovereign nation, is still a corrupt deal that must now become honest or go away. We are all aware of the corruption that reigned during the rule of the last Government, with that in mind we should examine the “procedures and conditions stipulated in the said agreement entered into with the Government of Sri Lanka”. Did these conditions consider the impact of this project on the citizens of Sri Lanka? more specifically on the environs around the proposed project? If not, they must attend to these needs without delay.

This is especially pertinent when considering the words of the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who when commenting on the landfill projects that China was doing on the Spratly Islands stated, “We are not like some countries which have carried out ‘illegal building’ in other people’s homes, and we won’t accept unwarranted remarks about work on our own home,” If the construction of the Port City has commenced without the requisite studies and against the law of this land it has to be viewed as ‘illegal building’ in our home ! We trust that Foreign Minister Wang Yi will step in to defend the image of China as not carrying out ‘illegal building’ in our home and request the China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) to examine and abide by the legal and environmental consequences of continuing with the Port City Project.

Port CityWe also look to the words of President Xi Jinping, who recently stated his view on companies and individuals contributing to polluting activities, last Friday he said that “We are going to punish, with an iron hand, any violators who destroy ecology or the environment, with no exceptions,” We welcome his words and trust that this will apply to the Port City project as well. The Sri Lankan Government should immediately commission a study on the impact of this proposed project on our health, land, water and air quality and if the ecology and environment of Colombo city and its environs are going to be impacted, report these facts officially to the Government of China.

The stated vision of the Port City is also suspect, It states that: “The land created will attract local and international investments for shopping malls, hotels, apartments, an exhibition center, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, theme parks, restaurants etc. Port City is planned to be very much a city for the people of Sri Lanka to be shared and enjoyed by all Sri Lankans”. There is no mention of high noise and polluting racetracks for car racing and the possibility of gambling, to name a few of the ‘hidden agenda’ items. High-speed racing not only produces a massive amount of noise pollution, it also generates large quantities of particulate matter that are 2.5 microns or less. Known as PM 2.5, these particles are the tiniest of airborne pollutants, and contribute to a range of diseases, including asthma and heart disease. The air quality of major Asian cities has now become a source of major concern, has the EIA of this project addressed the air quality that the existing City of Colombo will receive from the proposed project?

It seems that the current operators are hiding behind the very narrow EIA issued, they state that they will continue to adhere to: “commitments contained in the approved Environmental Impact Assessment study and addendum thereto “ These documents must be presented to the Sri Lanka public to see if the EIA under discussion has addressed the impact on public health, air quality, water supply and toxic garbage, just to name a few. There is also a statement of jobs for Sri Lankans, is this during the construction phase (which is temporary) or once the project is completed? What are the jobs available in the new city?

As for us, we need to examine the agreements signed and identify the individuals who have signed away our birthright, we have to examine their accounts to see if they are part of the ‘Criminal Cabal’ who have been looting this country. If so they must be punished to the fullest extent of our law.

If indeed we control this runaway Port City project, what should be the next steps? While the conformity to contractual obligations and national laws have to be examined and argued we do have a physical landfill to deal with. If this project does not meet with the requisites of a comprehensive EIA, what should be done with the land reclaimed? It might be good to envision a new public park much like Galle Face that could provide much needed public spaces for the Megapolis that is envisaged for Colombo.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    2

    This writer, with a significant knowledge of environmental and ecological issues, has presented his arguments in a form that any lay person can understand.
    Personally, I am SICK AND TIRED of those who keep defending these kinds of “developments” by quoting the quantum of “FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)created thereby. It would seem that these people would justify the murder of half the Sri Lankan nation if it led to the donation of coffins worth billions of dollars by the murderers. That is no exaggeration because this is just what has been proposed with these hare-brained schemes which has done nothing but put “commissions” in the pockets of a family that shall remain nameless and its friends. It is as simple and as crass as that.

    • 1
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      Ranil Senanayake

      Thanks.

      “It is heartening to see our Government standing up for the rule of law and the protection of our rights and health in the face of corrupt deals made my shadowy individuals with no concern or love for this nation. The Port City project has nothing to do with bi-lateral projects involving the government of China and the government of Sri Lanka. It is a deal struck with a corporation and we should always be conscious of that fact. Fortune 500 or 600 or whatever, a corrupt deal that does not consider the well being of the citizens of a sovereign nation, is still a corrupt deal that must now become honest or go away. We are all aware of the corruption that reigned during the rule of the last Government, with that in mind we should examine the “procedures and conditions stipulated in the said agreement entered into with the Government of Sri Lanka”. Did these conditions consider the impact of this project on the citizens of Sri Lanka? more specifically on the environs around the proposed project? If not, they must attend to these needs without delay.”

      Thanks again.

      This need to be turned into a contractual dispute between the Govt. and the Corporation, and keep China out of it. Then expose all the Crooks, Robbers, and Criminals, CRCs.

  • 2
    2

    Way to go, Ranil…

    China, being probably the most polluted nation on earth, won’t dare to implement such environmentally hazardous projects at home, instead they depend on corrupt rulers of other countries to degrade their own environments in exchange for the billions they crave.

    Hopefully good sense and honesty (albeit endangered species) will prevail here and we, as well as our future generations will be spared this disaster waiting to happen.

  • 1
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    What is the cost of cancelling the contract? I understand damages will be USD 300 million in addition to reimbursement of costs already incurred.

  • 0
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    Time to set up a National Environmental Commission free of interference by politicians. Present CEA is politicized and unable to take any action.

    Recent reports on Delhi air pollution should be a red light for us to reduce pollution. It is estimated that on average residents lose 3 1/2 years of their lives. Already we see a haze more often and dust layer on our furniture and homes. More people are suffering from Asthma, Bronchitis etc.

    Should consider the imposition of higher taxes for use of private vehicles in commercial zones like in Singapore. Ban any more coal plants in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
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    Mr Senanayake and Mr Vander Poortan and other saints in Sri Lanka

    I beg to disagree with both of you, whom as in my view, do not appreciate or do not want to appreciate the implications of suspension and subsequent termination of the above Contract.This is a Contract entered into bY Govt of Sri Lanka with a International Contractor . This is not a contract entered into by Govt of Sri Lanka under duress or misrepresentation or similar situation.
    Hence, Govt of Sri Lanka will have to pay substantial damages which would run into billions, which ultimately have to be borne by Poor Sri Lankans in the event of termination of Contract.
    Corruption was not something which was introduced to Sri Lanka by the previous regime. this is widely prevalent for ages in the society.Those who have gone to prestigiuos schools from not so pretigious backgrounds are I am sure well aware how much their parents would have had spent in kind or cash to people in authority to to make their children achieve the present positions.Business people in well established positions also will bear testimony to this standard practise prevalent in most countries.
    secondly, I believe all of you remember when Mahaweli Projects were being done there were serious “allegations” of getting huge commissions by people in Authority.Whether ,it is true or otherwise, What I only know is that those who were in authority made a huge contribution for the development of the country, fruits of which are enjoyed by each and every Sri Lankan today.
    Similarly, former President has done immense contribution to Sri lanka which far outweigh his shortcomings.AS a person who narrowly escaped death from the bomb set for Former Deputy defence Minister at Rajagiriya while returning home after work Knows, as many vast majority of Sri Lankans irrespective of their ethnicity, the contribution made by president Rajapakse by giving us freedom to live .before, 2009 Most of us were not sure when we went to work or when our children went to school they would return in a coffin, or alive.This was the reality that was prevalent all over the country until may 2009.

    With regard to serious allegation on previous regime , I do not know how many “saints” of the standard you expecting are there in the parliament or for that matter in government service or any other service. I do not know.May be only handful ,one may be the present Prime Minister and then few others.You will only have to demand to appoint a commission to investigate all the people who had been in authority and are in authority from 1948 up to now and demand to declare them their assets at birth and present assets giving detail explanation as to how they have acquired the wealth. and those who fail to give plausible explanations should to put behind bars.You might be shocked find most of the guys who are acting as saints will have to put behind bars.
    pl remember in this world there are no saints. only one did not have a opportunity (“like virginity is an indication of lack of opportunity”)

    No project can be done without environmental Impact.what has to be done in the circumstances is to design and construct the project to mitigate adverse environmental impact and not completely stopped the project: a whether it is started by previous Government or any other Government ,the legitimate Govt of Sri Lanka had entered into a valid Contract with a chinese Company.
    Termination of the contract will not have any impact on any president except on people of Sri Lanka and the highest adverse impact will be on lower strata of society as project being a construction project ,carpenter masons ,labourers will be mostly employed in this type of project.

    So I believe PM, being a sensible person and will take the right decision and allow project to proceed after taking suitable measures to mitigate any adverse environmental impacts.

  • 0
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    Excellent and well presented article.

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