24 November, 2020

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Justification Of Colombo Port City Project

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Arguments of the Economists.

A number of arguments have been put forward very recently to try and justify the construction of the Colombo Port City. Some argue that the Colombo Port City was a ‘business venture’ done with the view to make Sri Lanka the most competitive and preferred maritime and logistic hub in Asia. Hence, the construction of the Port City should be continued on a revised technical plan of the experts. Since 25% of the work Colombo Port City project is completed, others argue that by halting the project the country will suffer a heavy financial loss in addition to threatening livelihoods of local people in the Country, of the employees and service providers who have already made agreement with the Chinese company. There are also those who argue that this project shall create thousands of job opportunities and if halted the country will be deprived of all those benefits.

In the face of all this arguments, what seems certain is the underline ideology of those who argue in favor of the Colombo Port City which is a neo-liberal economics. Unfortunately, these economists are keen on denying and dismissing the warnings from scientist and environmentalists that the Colombo Port City – the country’s largest private investment in history – has the potential of becoming one of Sri Lanka’s biggest environmental nightmares: altering entire ecosystems and causing other serious environmental problems — and, by extension, endangering the millions who inhabit this country. We simply cannot sacrifice the environment in exchange for temporary economic gain.

This raises questions as to ponder, when viewed from stand point of an ordinary citizen of the country, how valid, informed and credible are the arguments of those who favor the Colombo Port City?

Human and Environmental Cost

The environmental impacts associated with large scale artificial economic project often brings with it many social and environmental concerns. The Colombo Port City is no different. The creation of the artificial city on a reclaimed maritime land affects species in the sea area, some endangered, water quality, and may increase the likelihood of earthquakes. The environmental impacts of the project are profound, and are likely to get worse as time goes on.

Port CityHowever, advocates who support the Colombo Port City for pity economic gains fail to understand the human and environmental cost that the project would entail, even when a revised plan is implemented. The economists who are often interested only in profits tend to be blind to such dimensions of social life. Such costs can be perceived only by those who looked at it from the people’s point of view.

For an example the project requires mass amounts of granite and sand. According to Port Authority “the estimated granite requirement for the project is 05 million cubic meters”. It was reported at a discussion held at the Human Rights’ Commission that the authorities have identified 20 quarries to supply the required amount.

In many places these quarries are already creating environmental hazards for people such as drying up of underground water resources, which is an indispensable requirement for survival of all life. In certain place water streams have already gone dry. Besides, the blasting of rocks is causing cracks in the houses and also health hazards both to people and animals.

Often these quarries are found in the interior of the country in the districts of Colombo and Kalutara; these are areas of rich biodiversity but the unique plant and animal species are quickly disappearing due to the destruction caused by the quarries. The situation will be definitely worsened when the demand for granite for building the port city increases.

Similarly a Colombo Port City Project will have a damaging impact on the coastal belt due to dredging of sand from the sea. Already excavation of large amount of sand from the sea off Negombo has caused numerous problems to traditional fishermen who depend on the shallow seas for their livelihood. The fishermen complain that the fish breeding grounds have been disturbed and have expressed fear that continuous digging for sand will intensify sea erosion and destabilize the coastal area. Recently there was a complain that fishermen incurred a loss fishing gear to the value of Rs 4 million due to the damages caused by the sand mining machinery.

The fishermen who use traditional methods for fishing also live in fear that once certain portion of land is given over to the Chinese government, the Chinese fishermen will one day become a serious threat to the livelihoods of the traditional fishermen.

Though the environmental impact of the project is already felt, there are many more concerns such as of altering entire ecosystems and causing other serious environmental and social problems—and, by extension, endangering the millions who live in this country. However, these aspects have not been taken seriously into account by the economists. But the threats to life are real. The Colombo Port City is a model for disaster.

Impact after Revised Plan

There are no signs that all these destructions stated above would cease when Colombo Port City is done according to a revised plan. It is so unfortunate that many of our experts seem to be more concerned about the profits rather than the wellbeing of the citizens.

I wonder whether the advocates of development and advancements focus mainly on the economic benefits overlooking the environmental destruction and violation of rights when constructing and approving such artificial economic projects. Thus, from right perspective this project violates the rights of the people to a safe environment and to livelihoods.

A project which is not primarily people friendly or environment friendly cannot be called a development, however much it promotes growth and bring profits to the elite. It is time that the advocates of modern development be inspired by the ancient wisdom of the Red Indians.

“When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money”.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    5

    Some of these morons are counting the teeth of a gift horse. The entire project cost is taken on by the Chinese.

    It will nicely compliment the China FTA and business from the Silk Route.

    Its a patch of land that was obviously receded to the sea before. Therefore its not “unnatural”.

    Services such as water, waste and other services will be needed regardless where business infrastructure is built.

    The small area given to CCC on freehold is in exchange for bearing the cost of the entire project. If there are security concerns iron that out with CCC and resume the project.

    • 0
      3

      None so blind as those who will not see!

    • 1
      0

      Vibhushana,
      Why not Hambanthota port or existing Colombo Port cannot be part of Maritime Silk Route?

  • 5
    5

    Justification Of Colombo Port City Project? Yes there are a few:

    1 Boru wada – to fill the pockets of the big boys with kickbacks,

    2 Boru show – this is a show of the glory of the ruler Mahinda, and his stupid chinthanaya!

    You can build any number of port cites around the island, but they will not come anywhere close to Singapore’s maritime hub:

    It is the business attitude, planning, organization and execution, and above all the dedication the pioneer leaders of Singapore that resulted in excellence of their hub.

  • 5
    2

    One has to experience hunger to really to appreciate the suffering of hunger . Priests irrespective of their faith are the people who almost entirely depend on benevolence of people and preaching ‘bana’ which they hardly practise ,can not understand or do not want to understand the hunger of poor, as they have never had to sweat like us to earn their living, feed families and for the very survival.
    If your concern is only environment, and want to give top priority to it, there are many other solutions to reduce damage to colombo area environment than under the project which is under construction now.This is my simple suggestion; demand Govt to make a daily charge of Rs 1000.00 from each car that enter city. But do not charge any thing from buses.this will drastically reduce adverse environmental impact in the colombo city. poor people like us can save millions worth of our time to do more productive work or at least spend more time at home as travelling time will be reduced by 90%.Engaging more buses instead of cars thousand of poor guys like us will get jobs as drivers. Govt. can save billions of foreign exchange which has to be spent to import oils. then govt can reduce tax so that we poor get food cheaply(I do not think you can appreciate it ,always having free meals ).

    You being not a commoner and not an expert anything perhaps funded by NGO of a foreign country, who hate progress of Sri Lanka,Pl Do not preach and criticize other in areas which not an expert. Preach your faith we have no problem with that. But is in your ignorance of serious contractual implications of termination of the contract at this stage keep on preaching us ,especially being person of Priveleged group ,we poor guys for whom very survival is the question ,we can no longer although belongs to oppressed class an not keep quiet.Whether it mahinda Rajapakpe or Ranil or somebody else, Govt of SRi Lanka has enterd into an valid Contract with an international Contractor, where there is a clause that damages to be paid to Contactor by GOVt of SRi Lankain the event of suspension or termination.
    As, I Understand damages run into 300 millions Us Dollars (39,000 million rupees)which is not a small amount for a small country like SRi Lanka with 21 million to feed (Canada for Example which is 150 times bigger than Sri Lanka with vast amount of resources has only 31 million people.
    Hence termination of the Contract will cause serious economic damages in addition to damage to our Image of the Country.
    The adverse impact of this huge damages which will have the highest negatice impact on the poor people like us as Govt has to increase taxes on food items as govt is left with no choice.This will harly have any impact of your category ,pl do not take personally ,as dependent on benevolence of people as people whether they have food for them or not they will support guardians of. their religious places.

    Stop talking on subjects which you are not an expert and secondly as a person who has the least financial impact compared the poor guys like us who are dying of hunger and do not have proper place to live and decent clothes to wear.
    Hence,Father pl do not destroy our economy, then we will have to undergo hunger, then we can not benefit from even your religious sermons/preaching as we cannot listen to “bana” as we will be hungry or would have died of hunger and sickness as Govt of Sri Lanka Irrespective of the ruler will have no money to allocate for welfare measures.Then do not blame Ranil or Mahinda or Maithee blame yourselves for ruining Sri Lanka.Be practical and understand realities before preaching Bana .
    pl Let poor people like us be given opportunity live, and have money to feed our children with at least Bread and “Parippu”and pl pray God to the make environmental impact least due to this project rather than protesting on streets, making traffic congestion further worse and making our life still difficult harder.Pl do not take this personally but use your God given life to best use.

    • 3
      2

      If not the Port City, what else is there? The only other viable option to remain in the global-capitalistic-wealth network is to produce US GMO-modified crops so we can sell to China via US corporate world. If there are other viable options from the Yahapalana -Gosl, they would have come out with it by now. But they haven’t said much, so far. Unless we want to go the Burmese-type, Bandaranaike-SLFP socialist way. All other cuts like what “son of a down trodden” suggest in taxing the rich, especially the cars a 1,000 a day for running on the Colombo roads will be a good, albeit, short-term solution.

      For environment damage, Yahapalana -Gosl should compensate the fishermen with relocation money, or deep sea fishing trawlers, or give them first preference in the port-city job-creation. The quarries have to be filled up with water, and that might protect the remaining bio-diversity. Also fresh-water fishing might become a industry.

  • 0
    0

    It is not easy at this stage of the matter to make a decision as many factors are involved, both positive and negative. Now that a committee is sitting on it let it reveal to the public all the facts and implications as soon as possible. What is to be noted however, is that the representatives of the government of China has repeatedly told that all the preliminary study of the project, such as the Environment Impact Assessment, compliance to various laws etc. is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan Government. Therefore the only possibility of stopping the project is if there are compelling factors to stop the project fully worth even after paying compensation to the company. If not how to continue the project minimizing possible damages and adverse factors overlooked by the previous administration. It is also possible that there could be some re-negotiation. Let us sincerely hope to put this matter behind us and go on with other pressing priorities.

  • 0
    0

    When we observe externally even we see huge detrimental effects so that it is not appropriate to be implemened at all. If it is so then if this is not for the interest of people where the interest lies and what are the associated factors. There should be soch.

  • 3
    1

    As a professional who has worked on infrastructure projects worldwide with major corporations; The priest should mind his own business. The project is viable and will cause some environmental disturbance but will definitely will not be a disaster by any stretch of the imagination.

    This project is a minute man made extension of a very tiny island. There are gigantic artificial systems built all around the world and the natural disturbance caused normally is balanced out bu nature over a period of time. Nature itself is very very distruptive and th current so called global warming is mainly a natural result of the earth shifting its axis. The so called scientists of the west are being manipulated by their nefarious leaders to say that human beings are the cause. The reason why this is because the west does not want the rest of the world to develop and be independent. Please read the hidded history of the anglo saxon leadership in the last 400 years. They are loosing control and dont want the Chinese, Russians, S.Americans etc to come to their level.

    Srilankans should read about their own struggle against british domination, humiliation and mental subjugation. Its really really embarassing to see Ranil, Sirisena, Chris Nonis etc bending over to the goddamn loosers and child molestors in No 10 and Buckingham Palace recently. UK & US has no money, assets or ability to do anything for Srilanka.

    • 1
      0

      We all know what the catholic priests are good for .

      Cheers

      Abhaya

  • 1
    1

    Chinese are very generous people. They love Sri Lanka and doing this port project as a free gift. Why look a gift horse in the mouth. Why don’t you accept it. I do not understand all the fuss.

  • 0
    0

    The case on environmental impacts presented in the article sure needs addressing. We can draw lessons from the development of Singapore from a marshy transshipment Island to a thriving world class economy within 5 decades. Today the 700 sq.km city state accommodates 6million people providing quality living standardrd and lifestyle. The country also has attracted billions of dollars worth of investments in Pharma, Oil & Gas, Chemical, Petrochemical, Wafer Fabs etc. aside from operating one of the best airports and a busy sea port in the world. The high risks of toxic fumes from Wafer Fabs in the event of a leaks did not prevent the government from shunning such investments opportunities, instead the professionals found ways to address such risks to move the country forward. Likewise Malaysia is yet another success story. Let us not forget both these countries initiated their development programs 6 decades ago drawing lessons from Sri Lanka which was then known as Ceylon that excelled in almost everything in the region. It is sad that over time we are still left in the cradle with economic malnutrition syndrome whilst our neighbours in the region have surpassed Ceylon in prosperity and progress by leaps and bounds.

  • 2
    0

    Yes the environmental aspects ahve to be looked into if they have not been done. But that should ahve been done before the Agreement was signed with the Chinese. It is not the responsibility of the Chinese to do so. Why doesn’t the new Government table the Agreement before Parliament so that we can study it without speculating. Hasn’t the University of Moratuwa done an environmental assessment.
    I think the opposition is due to India’s fears that the Chinese will have a stretch of land close to the Port over which they will have sovereignty.All sorts of fears are raised. The Chinese cannot extend the maritime boundary of 200 miles under International Law. Some of the fears are not valid. The Chinese have built the Colombo South terminal and are managing it without any cost to us. If we cancel the agreement what will be the cost of damages payable. A reporter told me it is US$ 300 million plus reimbursement of the costs already incurred.Surely the Government must disclose the facts to the people.

    • 0
      0

      Unfortunately the CEA, the state institution with the statutory responsibility of protecting the environment, does not have the expertise to prepare a good TOR for the EIA. They always rely on clearances granted by other state institutions to cover themselves. Port City EIA is no exception. University of Moratuwa does not have the expertise to assess the impacts on marine biotic environment and this had been raised by a member of the committee of experts appointed to review the project.

      Making presentation in the seminar held recently at the OPA, a Moartuwa University Don questioned whether the cost of creating 230-Ha is justified when relocation of under-served settlements and defense establishments can release over 400-Ha for future developments in the city at a cost much lower than the port city and with more benefits to the local community.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Father
    It is good to see you taking an interest in our economy.
    But, just as charity begins at home, it might be more useful if you focus on the economics of your own Church.[Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    Certainly yes. This priest must be surely blind to what he preach as well. SO LEAVE MATTERS OF PORT CITY TO AUTHORITIES & THIS IS THE BIGGEST DAMAGE THE YAHAPALANAYA CAN DO TO THE COUNTRY HALTING THIS PROJECT. [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    Mr R.M.B. Senanayake
    You are very correct. before granting approval to project, it was the bounden duty of the govt officails to have ensured EIA was given after due consideration,even under pressure, if it was there.
    Hence, it was within the purview of Govt Of Sri Lanka to assess and satisfy ,them with regard to envoronmental issues or any other issue.
    Hence, my only request is to introduce measures to mitigate environmental impact and immediately allow project to proceed.
    As an engineer who spent almost entire life on Contract management has no doubt that , when the matter is refer to arbitration ,all damages for suspension and termination of Contract which runs into Billions (39,000 million rupees only for damages as i understand from your comment) have to be paid by Govt of Sri Lanka which then Govt has recover from sri Lankan public as taxes with amount to Rs 2000.00 from each one of us.Then pl do not Blame Ranil or Mahinda as it is you yourselves to be blamed for our foolish and emotional actions. we Sr Lanakans are very claim to blame others our poor plight ,despite being called buddhists ( our own action very largely decide our future)

    So My Dear Sri Lankans pl do not protect ,it is too late now, let Ranil to continue with the project after introducing whatever measures to mitigate adverse impact considering economics of the measures.
    Do not try fool yourselves by trying to take revenge from Mahinda Rajapake, we are only trying to take revenge from us, largely due to ignorance. Perhaps these NGO guys are most probably funded by our relatives next door and the so called world ruler.

    So dear countrymen , pl for the sake of your children and future of the country, allow Prime Minister Ranil to allow to continue with the project as termination of the project will have grave consequences for especially guys of working class. Do not be misled by the so called environmentalists who have their own agendas,or dancing to the tunes of the music of their paymasters outside Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    All dogma and theory of this gentleman is utter waste of time. He should tell other means of attracting foreign investment. During JRJ time also there were several projects which were of this category one may argue on environment and other consideration including Mahaweli. May be all big brains are preventing him from seeing the reality. Perhaps this gentleman is enjoying a big pay packet for his sustenance and evil thinking that others should not prosper their life. Economic activity on a 1.2 billion project for Sri Lanka will be a big boost. People who do not see that are actually colour blind.

  • 0
    0

    The persons who approved this project appear to be in hiding.
    They should explain.

  • 0
    0

    Many countries have successfully reclaimed land from the sea.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_reclamation

    These projects have been implemented in an orderly manner, with strict selection criteria of those who were hired to do the job, and strict supervision & monitoring of progress of implementation.
    Our Port City project appears to have been given to a Chinese firm backed by the Chinese government without research into environmental and economic aspects.
    Moreover, these countries needed land areas for national projects.
    Sri Lanka has vast areas of uninhabited land for any such projects.

    This needless project will be an unnecessary recurring national burden for decades, when we are already indebted for hundreds of billions of dollars, to foreign money lenders.

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