By Ranil Senanayake –
Open Letter to the Government of Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe
Minister Hon. Rajitha Senaratne
Minister Hon Lakshman Kiriella
On the Port City Review
I am writing this open letter to you all as I have doubts that you might receive it through the layers of bureaucracy and entrenched interests that support the proposed ‘Port City’ project. A recent news report quotes a senior government spokesman stating that a “comprehensive review would look into every aspect of the project, including its environmental impact.” Obviously a ‘comprehensive review’ will take a few weeks at least for a project this size and any decision taken in a few days would mean that no ‘comprehensive review’ has been undertaken and we are once again lulled into a state of false complacency while our nations future is dismantled.
It will be salutatory to have the names of the scientists who are on the ‘comprehensive review’ committee, as there is serious doubt of quality of work by the ‘scientists’ who performed the initial EIA, which we the public have no access to as yet. We trust that you will not continue the underhand, opaque transaction procedures of the last government and be tarred with the same brush, we trust that you will you give us the Government that you promised us, open and transparent. I as the only qualified Systems Ecologist in this country, offer my services to this nation and to you GRATIS in the defense of this nation, if you are to set up an independent Sri Lankan committee to investigate the EIA that allowed the “Port City’ to proceed.
As we, the public have not has access to ‘Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that has been done in regard to this project there are some serious concerns that I would request you to consider. These considerations are basic, they impact this nation far into the future and if not addressed could create irreparable negative consequences for the public of this nation. May I list a few to illustrate the magnitude of the problem?
- 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 be the standards for air quality from the new city be set and monitored?
- 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 ?
- 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. Will this new energy needs be met with more such disastrous power generation being foisted on our nation?
- 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 treatments plans are in place, recognized by the current EIA?
- 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. To do less will be to cheat the public. Thus we the public, await an open discussion.
Please do look around to see the other similar problems created without consultation with the public, the Chinese Trans Canal project in Nicaragua is a case at point. Already a large segment of the population are dissatisfied with the secrecy and political instability looms. Such secretive contracts, will always breed national discontentment.
Wishing your new government well in its endeavor to protect this nation and to bring us prosperity and well being.