10 August, 2020

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Sand Mining & Rock Blasting For Colombo Port City

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

The recent, Negombo protest held by the fishermen came to an end, only after a promise from the political authorities that sand mining will not be done within a distance of 4km from the shore as before. Then a much publicized assurance was given that sand mining activity (dredging) will only be done, beyond 10km from the shore.

However, much distressed fishermen and women are now reporting that the sand mining is done as usual within a distance of 4-6km, causing irreparable harm to the environment and destruction to their only livelihood namely coastal fishing.

The challenge that the fisher leaders and others who are concerned about this matter, face is to verify and confirm those reports. If found true it could be definitely concluded that the fisher community has been betrayed and duped by the politicians just to stop their much publicized protest.port-city

If the government has given a promise to the protesting fishermen, to protect the Coastal Fishing Industry it has to be kept. If it fails, fishermen and all citizens must together confront the authorities, considering the urgency and national importance of this issue.

The experts who are familiar with the marine environment believe that sand mining done even outside a distance of 10km can do cause harm to the coast.

This centuries old, well established Coastal Fishing Industry provides essential protein, fresh fish, to the majority poor of our country. The poor cannot afford costly deep water fish now exported to the EU and it is most unfair to feed the poor of our country with cheap, frequently out-dated tin fish dumped in our markets from foreign lands, when our coastal waters are teaming with nutritious fresh fish.

Another Grave Cause Of Concern 

Although there is much public discussion on sand mining and protests have been organized against it, the impact of rock excavation from 11 queries in Gampaha, Colombo and Kalutara districts has not been sufficiently publicized. This activity is equally destructive to the interior of this country.

The requirement of rock material to construct this land reclamation from the sea Port City / Financial City project is 3.43 million cubic meters of large granite materials.

Even the committee of the experts appointed by the government has not seriously addressed this particular environmental issue in their EIA and SEIA reports.

We believe, that with greater awareness, the general public living around the areas of the 11 quarries where this large volume of rock materials will be blasted using explosives will mobilize themselves to demonstrate their opposition to such destructive activities. As this will destroy the flora and fauna of our small island which has the highest biodiversity in Asia and will also adversely affect the water catchment areas, that feed our streams and rivers which are now drying up.

Health and Safety Hazard

Another factor which needs our urgent attention is the construction location of the Port City / Financial City. It is going to be a health and safety hazard, as warned by Chinese environmentalists when they constructed a similar city at Tianjin. The Port City of Tianjin exploded with massive loss of life and costly environmental damage on 12th August 2015. This disaster is publicized on the Internet.

Similarly this construction will put the lives of our own people at risk. The Hon.Minister of Megapolis and the government should consider this important health and safety hazard and knowingly not put our people’s lives at risk for monitory gain. We believe such an act by our government is a human rights violation.

It is a deception to imagine that large scale sand mining and granite quarrying is the whole issue. Indeed, the whole project by its very nature is destructive and undemocratic. Indeed our attention must be directed towards halting the whole project.

There are other projects of similar model such as the Uma Oya project. All these are consequences of accepting the neo liberal economic policies adopted by our governments. Therefore, it is a gigantic challenge that lies before us.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

    • 5
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      The Chinese port city should be stopped – it will be another environmental and financial DISASTER for Sri Lanka. A case should be filed by the fishermen affected, against this project in the Courts.

      • 5
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        Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

        “The Chinese port city should be stopped – it will be another environmental and financial DISASTER for Sri Lanka.”

        This is what happens when Dimwits, Nitwits, Idiots, Crooks and Fools with low IQ are elected as leaders to govern, by a substantial number of fools present among the voters.

        Right now we have as “President” a Turncoat, Traitor and Crook who takes Santhosams fro the Former Crooks.

        Need a French style Revolution. to deal with these Traitors.

      • 7
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        The port city reclaimed land has been parceled off as 20 hectares to permanent ownership of China, 170 hectares on 99 year lease to China and only 233 hectares to be owned by China. If Srilanka wants to stop the work on port city, it can do so only in the 233 hectares it owns. Srilanka has to wait for 99 years to stop work on 170 hectares and never in the 20 hectares sold to China outright. When Srilanka government cannot hoist the national flag in the two areas given to China, how on earth do you expect it to stop work.

    • 0
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      [Edited out]

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

    • 3
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      Why? Edited Out?

      I am a Sinhalese and a Buddhist, who practises Meththa and Karuna!

  • 4
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    Dear Father,

    Thank you for writing this article and thank you CT for publishing it. It has great relevance to me because I come from a village where rocks are being blasted for this purpose, endangering the health of the people as well as the tranquility of the area.

    Our efforts to stop this has been only partially successful and we face direct threats to our lives from the quarry mafia who earn billions of rupees from this. Even the priest of a famous temple in this area has been bought over by this mafia.

    I wrote an article about this to CT, which for some reason they did not publish. On behalf of my village I thank you once more for bringing this to the notice of CT readers.

    Please go to Facebook page of Korathota Kanda to get an idea of what is happening.

  • 4
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    A fundamental rights case to stop the sand mining for the Chinese Port city must be filed in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka by the affected fishermen.

    Today the poor fisher folk have to pay for the massive Chinese debt piled up by corrupt Sri Lanka politicians who are living Tax free super luxury life styles, while people’s livelihoods are being destroyed because of the greed of Jarapassa, Pathala Champika Ranawaka, and Ranil Wickramasinghe.

    Sri Lanka is today a HOT AIR HUB of MEGA financial scam and debt run up by corrupt politicians of the Diya-wenna parliament of morons where Ranil Wickramasinghe struts his stuff and prats on about so called Parliamentary privileges while mortgaging Sri Lanka to Chinese and IMF with help of crooked Mahendran.

    The Chinese port city should be stopped – it will be another environmental and financial DISASTER for Sri Lanka.

  • 4
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    Fr Iddamalgoda has written well. People who know about these things tell me of the long term damage that will surely result from dredging along the littoral.

    However, those involved in the construction of Port City/Megapolis are taking the easiest and least expensive option regardless of the mayhem caused to the poor people of the area. Of course the interest of the politicians are above those of simply fisherfolk. Don’t expect more when the powerful Kudu King of Fishtown has an interest.

    Hoo di elay, elay, elay………

  • 3
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    The bloody Chinese motherfuckers are going to destroy this land forever. They half achieved it thorough while elephant mega projects like Norochchelai, Hambanthota port, mattala airport, suriyawewa ground etc. There is a big risk of exploding this artificially created island, not likely the way Tianjin exploded which was caused by chemical explosion, but in a different way. Port city is protected by only a ridge of stones whose inside dredged sand is dumped over which all structures will be built. But the most critical risk is the fact that the sea is constantly, perpetually and ever more aggressively pounding its waters and waves against this artificial island. When anything is inside water the object lose its weight and gravity and begins to float. The situation is more compounded by the fact that water pervades through stones and sand and destabilize the integrity of the island. In a natural land mass this will not happen due to clay content and compactness of the constituent mass but here because the material of landfill is sand and granite the sea water with its never ending persistence will eat its way through the landfill and over time the weight of the constructions and the very constituent material will exert a downward force forcing and pushing the retaining walls into the sea. The compromised and breached periphery walls will be swallowed by the sea currents and the sea will ultimately make inroads into the island. This may not necessarily be visible to the eye but could happen underneath. In a few years’ time the island may collapse on itself and explode. The cost? Well we now know the cost of aforementioned white elephants and the colossal amount of loans obtained from China. When we as a country have laid all our future eggs in a Chinese nest and it gets washed into the sea we all will be drowned! Added to it the sea rise factor we are doomed! I suspect China is doing this willfully to weaken this country so that they can subjugate us to allow them the use of our resources and opportunities for their advantage. As per the renegotiated arrangements Chinese still have some acreage for their own usage and who knows, given their notoriety, they could store inflammable and toxic material as in Tianjin and in case of the explosion of which we will have to face a catastrophe of all sorts. Therefore the best solution is to abandon this port city construction and find suitable inland land for same to be erected.

    • 0
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      Mr.Silva,
      China did not forcibly give SL the loan facility. It was our “greedy and Great”
      politicians who asked for it. We cannot blame the Chinese for demanding and taking whatever that is advantages to their interest.
      Winning the war with the LTTE gave our previous regime, specially MR, a crown
      and elated him to a position where he thought he was supreme and invincible and wanted to do away with elections and rule the country like they do in Arabia.
      A miscalculated move sent him to oblivion.
      The debt situation of country is bad and the current regime, which is more or less the previous regime only without the UNP’ers. It is the same coin only different sides. It was MR before and now we have MS.
      MR brought in the Chinese and the trend continues.
      Everyone knows that the MR regime made huge commissions of every deal they made with the Chinese and the presnt regime is trying to hide this and protect the master. Does it not mean that there is a very close understanding between the current and past leaders.
      The situation now is that everybody is trying for the fast buck and want to make hay while the sun shines. Corruption is worse than before and bribery has become an everyday business for the law enforcers and some government depts.
      MP’s who are representatives of the people are having a grand time forgetting that they are there because of people’s votes.

      There is injustice in every nook and corner and untold sufferings of the lower middle class and below.

      The president is on a romp and utters crap because he knows very well that the nation is in a mess.

      Like the saying “Ali madhivata koti” now it is “Ali madhivata koti saha kabarayo: The kabarayas are the sinhalese fanatics spearheaded by extremely racist monks out to destabilize the nation. There were incidents in Colombo and Batticaloa with the police, with a commissioned rank officer, doing nothing but standing by the monk as if to protect him from any unpleasant
      attack.

      I have lived my life and have arrived at the sunset of my time. I am deeply concerned of our future generation. Will they too end up in the middle east
      and far east as labourers and housemaids ?

  • 1
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    What is this about ant-chinese propaganda from church ?

  • 1
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    It is a pity, rather a curse that our Country’s two leaders do not seem to care a damn about what is happening right under their nose. Don’t they realize these are National calamities endangering the entire nation. Where is their boastful 30-40 years of political experience. Is this the way to protect our Natural resources.Appoint some honest and knowledgeable people to handle these National projects, please get rid of all these parasites, there are enough honest and patriotic people in Govt. service who we are aware are lamenting at the level of corruption still taking place hoodwinking the political leaders.We are almost sure as the way the things are happening in the Country all criminals and rouges will be quite safe.The people who voted for a change on 8th. January 2015 did not vote for their bread and sambol but for justice and rule of law for all alike.The
    people now should strike their breast saying “Mea culpa, Mea culpa ,Mea maxima culpa.

  • 1
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    I don’t know of useless President bugger but RW may have found himself in a precarious situation. It is not him who started port city project but he has been forced to deal with it now. The critical scenario here is that on one hand he has to keep the Chinese in good terms and get their help to salvage Mattala and Hambanthota, we need Chinese assistance for our development projects. On the other hand port city has progressed to a certain stage-a point of no return- and all the economic factors weigh heavily for continuation of this resources gobbling monster. If RW is to be forced to abandon the project there would have to be a huge and unprecedented level resistance from the affected people, environmentalists and concerned people.

  • 0
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    Pl rise:

    Environment circular: 02/2015 – Sand and Gravel Mining, http://www.environmentmin.gov.lk/web/images/pdf/circular%2002-2015%20english.pdf

  • 0
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    The issue is not President and Primer ,paramount issue is that National growth and development by Port City project will help for ours people employment and Trading ,well being majority vested interest. Majority interest is National priority of Democracy.

    The interest of Church and People are dramatically an opposites. Church is looking for consent of “dividing rights”. Those “rights of God” are basically old phenomenon of that belongs to “sale of Indulgencies” by even long before renansainaces Old Testament.

    That has nothing do with Port City . Asian is largest world population as well as largest consumer market of ongoing Market economic is concern by New Globalization .
    Sri lanak location in middle of Asia by products of nature. Its give blessing of origin and development of earth for Sri lanakn. That is why many hegemonies are behind to undermanned and destroy ours natural out come that will give benefits to people of Sri Lankan by nature.

    An Issue is not an environment or pollution but is that not Port City is tally with Big -power political economic & social interest of overall In Indian Ocean politics of Monsoon.

    That is why they opposed getting advantages for all Sri Lankan by benefits of their future well being. Poverty cannot be eliminated and improved life by destroy an economic opportunities by NGO’s activities back by s”ales of Indulgencies”.

    We an oppose those who are motivated act of against development of National economy by unhidden road maps by “blessing of God”.

    An Economic is nothing it is well being of People and their wealth of our nation.

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