By Ranil Senanayake –
It has now transpired that our ambassadors are above the law of the land, the president and the Prime Minister. In a recent newspaper report, our high flying ambassador to China, a certain Mr.Kodithuwkku, seems to have the the authority to announce that ‘The green light has been given to the delayed Colombo Port City project’, before the legal EIA and commentary process has been concluded, but also seems to have the power to pardon a Chinese company for violating the laws of Sri Lanka. The Company, in collusion with those entrusted with the protection of our coast, has apparently submitted a ‘greater environmental impact assessment’, not because it is required by law but according to the ambassador but ’to allay public concern’. It will be very nice if our ambassador showed some respect for the ‘public concern’ that has been published in the media for some time now. Now that he knows so much, perhaps he can allay our fears on the impact on the air quality, freshwater availability, climate change responsibilities and garbage disposal ability and allay our concerns.
The press report goes on to state that “The “incremental environmental impact” by the project is “minimal/negligible at the reclamation site and the coastal zone to the North and South of the site,” This is a patently false statement and totally disrespectful of the fact that there has been no statement on the impact of construction dust and debris on the city of Colombo amongst other critical impacts. The effect might be minimal at the reclamation site, but what about the impact on the rest of the nation, starting with the environs of Colombo. The authors of the “incremental environmental impact” must reside in other nations, as they seem to have been unaware that a city called Colombo exists, just outside their ‘area of reclamation’. It is rumored that the CCD who had been part of the original document was now the evaluators for their own document. Well, someone should tell these gentlemen to lift their heads out of their boxes and see that a city called Colombo exists beyond their reclamation site and that they, as an organ of the Sri Lankan Government have a duty by its people to protect them. In this case it looks like a rapid protection game for the Chinese investor.
Our dear ambassador is clearly out of line, in the statements he made, will the Government rebuke these fallacious public statements? Will he respect due process and the law of this land? Or is he, like the owner of a media with whom I was speaking to last night, amused that I was attempting to protect Sri Lanka, when there was business profit to be made! Amusement with those wanting their fundamental rights expressed, reeks of Mary Antoinette, who was amused by the starving asking for bread that she told them “to eat cake’ instead.
Is this the Government and society that we have?