The citizens’ attention is now drawn again to the issue of the Port City. Already some of the political figures have expressed their views on the current moves. The parliamentarians will soon know the mind of the Supreme Court regarding the Bill on the “Port City Commission”, drafted by the government. Thereafter, they will have an opportunity to debate the subject in the parliament at least for one day and make amendments to meet the requirements of the judiciary.
Many will remember that people on their own have been continuously protesting against this project from year 2014 until they got themselves exhausted and were almost forced to give up the fight. Both governments namely the Pohottuwa and Yahapalanaya, have promoted the Port City project despite the people’s opposition to it. According to my memories, when people struggled no political party took any serious step to support their cause.
Now anyone with a little common sense can imagine what would transpire during the parliamentary debate which will take place on the 18th.
The more educated members of the ruling party will justify arguing that people will receive immense benefits once the project commences. The other members of the ruling party will howl and drown the voices of the opposition.
There will be others who will criticize only the unfavorable nature of the administrative mechanism of “Port City Commission”, that will undermine the sovereignty of our country. They will also point out that Sri Lanka will be a victim of the Cold War between the Super Powers.
The nature of the administrative mechanism proposed by the government is the only concern that even the progressive parties seem to harp on. Very strangely, they do not find any unfavorable issue with the project as a whole. For such people the project is generally good and acceptable.
In my view, the Port City model is based on the dominant model of development of which the main features are unlimited production and exploitation of natural resources, high consumption and economic growth and high profits.
The global impact of this model is seen for some time now. The environmental degradation, wide social inequalities and marginalization of poor communities are some of the most common examples.
Sri Lanka has tried out the above mentioned model of development for the last few decades. What have we achieved? Nothing ……. but we have lost our forest cover, polluted the air, the rivers the lagoons and the soil. Social inequalities have widened and the country has been caught up in the debt trap.
Therefore, the alternative model proposes that if development is to be genuine it ought to primarily meet human and environmental needs and not the demands of Capital.