1 October, 2020

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Is Colombo Port City A Development Priority?

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Denial of People’s Right

The citizens in Sri Lanka are being kept in the dark as to the nature of the project known as ‘Colombo Port City Project’ (CPCP) which was launched in a hurry by the former President in Sept. 2014. An EIA report, which is an essential condition prior to receiving the official approval to launch a major project, is said to have been prepared but was never made available to the public. Thus, in the case of CPCP, the usual procedure has not been followed.

It is common sense that people have right to know what their leaders are doing for development of their people and what contracts they enter into with other countries, in the name of development.

In this case, information related to the ownership, the extent of the land to be reclaimed, project activities to be carried out, total cost, environmental and social impact, possible economic activities planned to be implemented and a profile of the contractor, have not been made available to the citizens of the land, leaving room for diverse speculations. According to unofficial reports, the Chinese contractor of this project is one who has been blacklisted. Therefore, in many respects this is a denial of a basic right that the citizens are entitled to.

Port CityHowever when taking into account factors such as the capital to be invested, the ownership of the reclaimed land, physical and environmental changes, sovereignty of our land, and even more, our politicians who are not very dependable and can hardly be trusted, the citizens have to take greater interest and responsibility in the issue of the Colombo Port City project, in order to safeguard their rights.

It is up to the government to provide an opportunity to the citizens to express their views on this project. Had the previous government provided the basic information prior to the launching of the project, the citizens would have already voiced their concerns on this matter.

The previous government should take the blame for its failure to provide the required information which would have enabled the citizens to perform their civic responsibility in this regard.

Good Governance

Good governance was proclaimed as the major agenda of the Maithree –Ranil government on every political platform during the election campaign. It can be realized only if they keep up to the promises they made before the masses.

It is a universally accepted principle that people’s participation in the governance of the country is an essential element of good governance and democratic rule. If our rulers are honest they should now place before the public what this Colombo Port city is about.

Colombo Port City: A Hidden Agenda?

As for now, the secrecy surrounding the CPCP is a major issue. On the one hand, the previous government has been in a mighty hurry in launching the project and on the other, all information about the project has been purposely hidden from the people. Not only the general public but even the Central Environmental Authority, which is the government arm established for the protection of the environment, seems to be kept in the dark. Had it been informed, by now it would have conveyed its position to the general public. Therefore the question arises whether the previous government has had a hidden agenda behind it?

The new government which pursues the policy of good governance should now set a good example by listening to the views of the people and acting in a totally transparent manner.

Environmental Impact

We have seen, in the recent times, the earth falling apart in the hill country causing several deaths and immense hardships to the people in the plantations area. Several affected families are still living as refugees in welfare centres. Many people now believe that such tragedies are caused by the unplanned development projects carried out in the area.

Thanks to the media we are now informed about the catastrophic situation prevailing in Bandarawela area due to the Uma Oya project launched by the previous government with the assistance of the government of Iran in spite of the warning given by our environmentalists. Such development programmes have only brought disaster and have disrupted the peace which was prevailing prior to the launching of the so called development project.

The traditional farmers complain that their paddy lands have dried up due to lack of water and so are the drinking wells; that the houses they had built with all their hard earnings are now cracking. The land value has dropped. Such were the woes that people revealed before the media.

The CCPP needs millions of tons of granite and large amount of gravel which have to be brought from the interior of the country to reclaim the sea. The sand is being pumped already from the sea. What will be the impact of such activities on the natural and social environment? When questioned, the fisher communities expressed their fear about the possible damage that this project would cause to the fish breeding grounds, corals and the sea coast. Who can guarantee that the fate that befell the people due to the Uma Oya project may not fall on the people living in the western province and those living in the coastal belt?

Therefore the government should insist on a serious study of the environmental and social impact of the project by an independent committee. Only on the information so collected should a decision be taken. Until then the project has to be suspended.

The Promise given during the election

People remember well the promise made from the political platforms that the Colombo Port City Project would be discontinued because of its disastrous environmental impact. These leaders would not have made such a promise to the people if they had no solid ground for it. Therefore the promise needs to be honoured.

If they have made such a promise solely for the purpose of attracting votes, then they have violated both social and political ethics.

Some argue that a contract signed by two countries cannot be annulled. However, if the contract really undermines the sovereignty of the country and brings it harmful effects on, the leaders of both countries have a moral duty to reconsider the contract.

Development Priorities.

Does a project which comprises a golf course, racing car track, facilities for sea sports, casinos, tourist hotels and shopping complexes, make any sense in Sri Lanka, where more than half the population receives only a two dollars a day? The focus of development programmes in a country where 75% of the population are peasants ought to be the needs and concerns of the peasantry. Indeed the CPCP is an agenda meant to cater to the needs of the foreign tourists and the urban rich, at the expense of the majority in the country.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    3

    It cannot be a stand alone with out Cochin which is downright out.

    The silk route train Yiwu to Madrid,Runs on smoothly.
    Jammon Chorizo.Chinese get a taste of smoked matured natural bacon delights mout watering from agro industrial nation.
    The train from Yiwu to Madrid is run by Trans-Eurasia Logistics, a joint venture between Germany’s Deutsche Bahn AG and the Russian Railways (RZD).

    At this rate SL 30th Sihala buddhist state of Hindia like Sikkim Nagaland and Bhutan coming soon.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 4
      0

      Hey Jimbo you went to the land of Columbus Christopher the Basque presently ruled by New England. The Spanish names still exist there for a good reason because they are the masters of the Arte de corrida de toros (bullfighting ) after the harvest.
      Any Chineseman would admit that the greatest hapiness is in the movement of the bowels.

      Viva Espania we have got the Chinese by the movement of the bladder but never begging bowl concept.

      Even today World’s Greatest Chef – El Bulli Restaurant Barcelona Spain”- book a seat six months ahead and he takes 6 months to design the meal. Presently the teacher for all the great ones- Ferran Adrià i Acosta the deconstructivist.

      That is because you have not tasted the unwavering tradition of making of wine drinking and eating- Brandy de Jerez in Spanish cuisine which the Chinese can only dream.

      The largest China town in Europe is at Madrid and their growth rate is still in double figures.

  • 3
    5

    Disastrous environmental impact will be when nobody will want to invest in Sri Lanka following these [Edited out] .

    The Father [Edited out] and leave the development to professionals .

    Cheers

    Abhaya

  • 2
    8

    Well, it’s either the Chinese Port City, or US-inspired IMF Loans payable with agricultural and farming production on seroids, GMO-feed, glysophospates, and Monsanto, so Lankan Aricultural Produce can become viable on the Global-Marketplace……and for mellenia, Lankan rural industry was a vocational institution like teaching and religious practice.

    • 2
      8

      ~correction : millennia…….for 1,000’s of years, Sri Lanka endured with careful and tender cultivation of her sanctified farmlands, all now to be set to be ecological degradation of Global Genericism for the Global-Marketplace and money on the Global Capitalistic Stock Exchange.

  • 3
    3

    This article is just garbage.
    India, Singapore and west are against this development because it will be a major highly developed city in the Indian ocean.
    The benefit comes to the srilankans if this goes through. And we must Make sure this happens.

  • 0
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
    1

    As I see this is a seriously detrimental project in many aspects. I think there is no special knowledge required to ascertain that. My understanding is the objective of these projects is not to promote common good but some other hidden purpose.That is why people even do not know what is happening.The super powers should see the exact picture more clearly. But their goal seem to be different from average people.

  • 1
    0

    I would like to comment on this article in terms of good governance. Accordingly, unless there are matters of privacy, state security and prevention of unrest etc. are involved, good amount of information must be available in the public domain. In this on-line era I think all intended legislations, details of projects, etc could be available on the internet. It in this spirit of openness that one can prevent misuse and abuse of authority. It is published that the witness / victim protection bill is passed. similarly there should be a right to information law where enough of material should be availed on the web.

    Some may not be happy with that situation where they used to arbitrarily deicde on matters. If the facts are known then any one can decide the best option. In fact if the Sirisena – Wickramasinghe government wants to put things right and prevent wrong ever happening then the theme should “Open Government”.

  • 0
    3

    The shortest way to remedy this “hidden” venture, prior to any approval
    is for the Chinese Company that has won the “Tender” to open a web-page
    as CPCP with all the details they have, in the name of transparency. China must know that this is the way to do buisness in the modern world.

    • 2
      0

      You don t understand the Chinese psyche or the mainlands education which is exact opposite our yours which is a smatter of western striving to be more western. Chinese idea of individual has 4 concepts while western is drive the nail aright boy till the irons red.

      The Chinese are team players and it has taken them 100 years of that education by the gun with 2 eggs per week for family of 8. This makes them the workshop of the world- they can manufacture in their sleep.

      This also makes them always ask the buyer for all specifications then the like sheep manufacture or build.This is the same with Chinese anywhere even Singapore.. I think it is a good habit because the stinking rich or the stupid wait for the collapse to find fault like the worlds number one seller of toys fiasco in 2007 june.

      You cannot ask a turnkey contractor to divulge that information which is totally in the hands of the buyer. So talking in your IC terms is not futile and only exposes your inability to have self-control and blaming everyone next to you for your idiocies.

  • 0
    3

    There was absolutely no needvto rush this proect. This is a mega project with far reaching implications for the entire country and its people. However, no details were given to the public at all.

    Why was this hurried with minimum informatiom to the public and how much already gone to pockets of cronies? Rajapakses, Sirisenas, wickremasinghe will and go away but the country must go on for the present and future generations and it is our duty to protect them and stand against misleading leaders and/or their governments.

    • 2
      0

      The bad side of what you are requesting is what we see in England- anything even technology takes a minimum of 10 years to become reality and by that time that technology is out dated. The EU is superior in education and technology than the UK.
      UK London is the political, financial and entertainment capital of the world because they are more realistic than the idealist.

      Even after 10 years of debate and study (study does not entail more than 2 years) folk are not satisfied Why so??

      Life is a paradox creepy soul dcn- you are under the eye! (@O@)

  • 1
    1

    The short answer is, ‘No. The Colombo Port City is not a development priority’.

    It would seem that it is not a project that should even proceed, for a number of reasons including the following

    1. This project was not initiated by the Government but was based on a proposal brought to it by the Chinese. That itself should make you ask some questions.
    2. There is no benefit commensurate with what the project will cost
    3. There is potentially significant damage in and around the project area
    4. Supermarkets and high rise buildings and motor car racing tracks are not the most important things for the progress of the country
    5. It is not desirable that the Chinese should get 88 hectares on a 99 year lease
    6. It is even less desirable that China should get an additional 20 hectares with full title. In effect, won’t SL be ceding some of the country’s territory to a foreign power?
    7. What control will SL have over these parcels of land?
    8. What will happen if there is a conflict involving China and another power, say, India or the US? Could not this area become a target for attack? Won’t SL become the meat in the sandwich?
    9. Environmental impact statements are important but they are only relevant if the project is good in principle. Also, how many are competent to carry out a proper environmental impact study in relation to a project like this ?
    10. Environmental impact statements are not wholly reliable. Much of the conclusions in them are necessarily based on speculation, and there aren’t too many similar projects that have been carried out elsewhere to provide guidance.
    11. There seems to be a desire to get the project through as soon as possible

    Let’s take a prudent step back and review the whole thing.

    • 4
      1

      “”5. It is not desirable that the Chinese should get 88 hectares on a 99 year lease”
      8. What will happen if there is a conflict involving China and another power, say, India or the US? Could not this area become a target for attack? Won’t SL become the meat in the sandwich?””

      Why was army land at galle face given on 99 year lease to Iranians who carry the “Opium War” that created Hong Kong UK for 100 years. Has it to do with ANC brokered Mihintalle lighting every poson and supply of household appliances and above all for ages no Sihala can get a cleaning contract of Colombo.

      Are you involved in WMD by any chance??

      Did they not sponsor your first woman CJ -OUT??

      Have you not sold it to the original muslim??

      What is wrong with sihala, tamil and the rest of the world??

      In over 500 years of European rule where they were the favourite and 68 years of independent rule- they are not capable of manufacture and export but have a clenched fisted policy known to many at the IIT who pass out B. Tech with over 90’s.
      Gordon Brown the one eye priest son confirmed this by handing of £3 billion to them to invest at Chery Automibile China for the manufacture of Jaguar and Rover- today 75% of Tata income is from this. UK played HR shitty politics with the Chinese and don’t have the balls to go straight- does it matter no say the Chinese because the Big Germans have invested heavy in China Robotics in Auto and in turhn the Chinese have bought Brand in Germany and retained every staff member.
      They don’t employ you on local projects similar to africans and other commonwealth countries because you dont work and your education is UK style – trade union.
      Germany is a country with major employee rights that even the UK does not have?

      Once a crusader always a crusader.Hitler did not bomb a church where the meek took refuge even in London which was blitzed.

  • 1
    0

    THIS LAND IS OUR RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED
    ==========================================

    PLEASE JOIN HANDS TO PROTECT OUR MOTHER LANKA’S ENVIRONMENT , THAT IS ALL WE GOT, Please send in as much as petitions to Greenpeace ,you owe it to your Country

    NO PORT CITY ,NO GOAL VILLAGE .

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    Fax: +1 202 462 4507
    Email: info@wdc.greenpeace.org
    Volunteer: http://www.greenpeace.org/volunteer

    San Franciso Office:
    1661 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    USA
    Tel: +1 415 255 9221

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    about us

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