24 September, 2023


Port City: Indian Pressure Forced SL To Suspend & Revisit Project

By Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

The recent statement from the cabinet spokesman on the ‘Port City’ project is a slap in the face of the many Sri Lankans, who lobbied and protested this project on legal as well as health and safety grounds. According to him, it was not Sri Lankans who pointed out the vexing issues behind the land ownership questions under the original agreement, it was Indians ! He is reported to have stated that: “the Chinese funded ‘Port City Project’ (PCP) initiated by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had to be suspended and re-visited under pressure from India. It was the Indian government that forewarned Sri Lanka of the negatives in the event Sri Lanka went ahead. India said once completed, the project will not come under the jurisdiction of Sri Lanka with a big question mark on Sri Lanka’s sovereignty”

Pressure from India ? If this is the voice of our cabinet, I wonder where are the ears ? Did they not see or hear of the press articles, public presentations, public protests seeking to inform the government of the social, health environmental costs of this project that has not been considered in the original EIA. Proceeding without an valid EIA is illegal, no supplementary EIA as requested has not yet been submitted. I am sure most of the informed public would have been aware of the public protests during the last year and a half of. But the cabinet seems to have been unaware. We wrote, researched, organized, protested etc, we thought that our voices were heard by the government, but the cabinet spokesman says no ! our voices are unheard , the cabinet hears only the voice of India.Port City

The shortcomings of the EIA have been pointed out and it seems impossible for a democratic, responsible government to permit this project to proceed until a comprehensive EIA has been filed. A comprehensive EIA will be one that includes the concerns listed below.

  1. 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?
  2. 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? Will we loose our water rights,?
  3. Energy. 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. At the moment over 50% of the energy needs of the country is generated from fossil fuels. Will these new energy needs be met with more such polluting power generation being foisted on our nation?
  4. 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? If the citizens of the new city are expected to generate waste at similar levels like in the new cities in the UAE, each person will generate around 2.5kg of waste per day, which at over 900kg an year, will see a garbage mountain from the Port City exceeding 180,000 tons per annum Where will this go?
  5. Carbon Footprint. As cement generates 16 times the heating effect that CO2 does in terms of global warming and a massive input of fossil energy will go to construct and maintain the infrastructure, the Carbon footprint of this city must be calculated and determined if it will be a part of the ‘National Footprint’ for Climate Change deliberations. The garbage mountain will also figure in this calculation as Landfills are one of the the largest anthropogenic emitters of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane (CH4). For instance, in 2006, landfills in the U.S. emitted 6,211 tons—34% of the total U.S. methane emissions (equivalent to 130.4 million tons of CO2), Methane as a greenhouse gas has 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  6. 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.

These are the real issues , not attempting to please one country or another at the cost to Sri Lanka. If the cabinet is deaf to the voices of the people and hear only the voices of other countries to negotiate our land; If this nation is treated as a negotiating chip for the economic benefit others , ignoring the concerns and well being of the people, the government will loose their credibility and we are heading into difficult times indeed !

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Because Ranil it is truly India who is behind this government and not ppl like u

    • 4

      Dr. Ranil Senananayake, Many thanks for your great work. Please keep it up.

      We should get together and draft and file a Fundamental Rights CASE or Public Interest case against the Chinese Port City with environmental groups and Fisheries Community groups and Colombo citizens groups in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

      The Chinese port city like the massive and useless white elephant Hambantota port and airport was planned and built to help Mahinda Jarapassa consolidate a military dictatorship that supported China and its silly Silk Route hot air project in Sri Lanka. Like the Hambantota white elephant projects that are also financial disasters, the Colombo Port city is another much larger environmental and social disaster in the making.

      Because of the stupidity of the current Finance Minister Ravi K and Ranil’s team that included the corrupt insider trader former Central Bank head, Arjuna Mahendran who needs to be investigated for the Bond scams and his assets ceased, it is now going ahead under Ayahapalanaya govt.

      Sri Lanka is today run by Prime Minister which a colonial hang up and a cabinet of fools and clowns politicians who think that the west and its allies like India are more important that the people of the country who voted for them.
      Of course. Ranil and co. are better than the bunch of criminals led by Mahinda Jarapassa who should be behind bars with his brothers and sons, be we have a long way to go!

      • 0

        [Edited out]

      • 1

        Environmental groups have a lot of work as many Ministries(and Armed Forces in the North/East) don’t follow the nationally (and globally) accepted principles/policies on environment.
        Indecently belatedly an Environment Circular was passed by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment in September 2015 on Sand and Gravel mining:
        PS/DSP03/16, http://www.environmentmin.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=248&Ite

        This Circular should have reduced the madness of building statues in the public (without public consultation!!).

        Ministries (pnecessarily rodded by environmental groups) should heed:
        Amber Light Signals Requiring Pro-active Action by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Chandra Jayaratne, 6 October 2010, http://groundviews.org/2010/10/06/amber-light-signals-requiring-pro-active-action-by-the-lessons-learnt-and-reconciliation-commission/

        I was simply petrified last week when I read that the Ministry of Education requested and received 16, 8-ft high Thiruvalluvar(author of Thirukkural) statues from South India

        Certainly Ministry of Education is ignoring i.the utmost importance of Education for Sustainable Development(most of all Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014), ii.Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs(2015-2030) and Environment Circular PS/DSP03/16, .

        That is most unacceptable. There are international laws which can punish our Ministry of Education for oredering so many and so big granite statues. It is an insult to Thiruvalluvar who wished Thirukkural to enter man’s head and heart and not relegated to granite. The same thing applies to Buddha statues.

        Spirit of PS/DSP03/16 applies to Sri Lanka, India and every other country in the endangered(by man) planet.

        The cabinet must call a group of environmental scientists/academics to have a comprehensive ”hearing” on Sustainable Development.

        Readers, please note:
        Human Consumption of Earth’s Natural Resources has tripled in 40yrs, 25 July 2016, http://www.ecowatch.com/humans-consumption-of-earths-natural-resources-tripled-in-40-years-1943126747.html

        (CT, pl allow the given weblinks for readers’ sake on this most critical matter)

    • 4

      Regardless of Right or Wrong, the Indians are not behind any political party or individual(s). They are only behind what is beneficial to their strategic interests. Don’t forget that in 2004/2005 India especially RAW was instrumental in overthrowing RW’s UNF govt and ensuring RW will not become president in 2005. India won’t hesitate to go against MS-RW alliance if they think it MS-RW are not towing the line. This is off-course not something unique to India. All global powers do this.

  • 6

    Mr. Ranil Senanayake:

    I would not trust a word that the Govt spokesperson says.

    He is just a big mouth liar.

    He is just another politician who is busy making his family rich at the expense of the country.

  • 3

    Anyone can be a liar, but that does not mean that what one says is always false.
    Let us probe further before passing judgment.

    I disapprove of the project. But I disapprove of foreign meddling in the country’s affairs even more.

    • 6

      They break their promises to the poor fools who vote for them.
      Unuth ekai, munuth ekai.– gently down the precipice.

    • 2

      Even before the election Ranilthuma said he would revist the project.

      • 2

        Yes,then he said the regime is pawning the country to the Chinese.
        Today he is offering it for outright sale!
        Funny part is they said no !!
        But they want 15 000 hc of land which Ranil is itching to give!!!

  • 1

    So, it’s the choice between Indian ETCA (land-bridge included), and Chinese Port-City.

    Quite the catch-22 situation.

    Environmental destruction to Colombo city will be inevitable, with Port-City.

    Best way forwards is of course, ¼- ½ ETCA (minus land-bridge), and robust taxation of Elite.

    In light of the environmental destruction, would casinos be able to take on the financial burden?

    (can’t they just do it all down at Hambantota?….or will that compromise the capital-city status?).

  • 4

    USD 135 Million is the damages bill Batalanada Ranil has to pay, even after apologising to the great Chinese People ..

    Is Modi paying it ?

    Or is it the Tax paying Yahapalana suckers who will fork out the fine,with more commission to Malik’s Treasury.

    Rajitha Senarathne treats the Yahapalana suckers as dumb asses , Doesn’t he ?.

    It has to be a desperate sucker to listen to all that Bullshit he dishes out to the media, unless you are a UNP member.

    The real deal is Batalnda wants to give extra 2 Hectares of our land, as compensation for the losses to the Chinese Company.because he can’t find the money.

    Nor does he wants the public to know about it.

    Shangrilla sells their smallest apartment in Galle Face for half a Million USD.

    Just imagine how much two hectares of land in the Harbour City will be worth, when the project is completed.

    That is Batalanada’s Economics for you…

    • 2

      After the Bond Scan next in line for the FCID under Mahinda/ Gota Government in the future. What goes around will come around.

  • 4

    So what else is new with this Yahapalanaya????

    We can all see that re-election promises are broken like “pie crust” once the election dust settled and the principals are safely ensconced in their cocoons of power.

    All the points that Ranil Senanayake had raised in the past, as well as in this post, are crucial to the future well-being, not only of the residents of Colombo, who will be the worst affected by the environmental degradation, but will also affect the ecology of the nation.

    Do we want our Western coastline to end up like the horror that we are witnessing in Rio (Brazil)? One would think not – at least by folk who have our Country at heart. Of course the greedy politicos who have their OWN interests at hear, won’t give a proverbial “shit” about it.

    So, as I asked earlier, what else is new with our poli-tickkas?

    So let’s hope that sanity will prevail (wishful thinking!!) in the end.

  • 1

    Obviously we have lame ducks in all the high places .

  • 0

    [Edited out]

    • 2

      Some seriously mentally challenged administrator at work today. Knowing what I wrote I can see your green underwear.

  • 0

    The total cost of this project is said to be US$.1.4Bn.Is that the cost of filling the Land only?
    All the concerns that Dr.Senanayake has raised,while valid,have tried and tested solutions. For example, the water question can be solved with a second tier desalinated water supply to the whole city thereby saving the potable water being wasted unnecessarily.
    Garbage,if handled properly can be a part of the solution to the energy requirement.Colombo garbage can also be channelled to it.
    Air pollution will have to be shared by both sides as the wind blows both ways.
    Energy problem can be solved at least partly if say, one million households were provided with 3KW solar power system on a soft loan basis.
    We need answers to question and solutions to problems and do what we have to do if not we will remain like KIRIBATI!
    All these solution cost money and if the 1.4bn does not provide for these sale/lease of land that is being created should provide for it.

    But,more concern should be directed towards the sea erosion that could result due these developments as there is no point in gaining land from the sea in Colombo if land is lost to sea down south.

  • 1

    (Hollow) K A Sumanasekera

    Ask your masters MaRa,Gota, Namal Baby, and Basil R (big hora) and Willie Gamage to pay $135 millions out of the kick backs they received from the corrupted Chinese

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