25 June, 2021

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The Port City Commission: What Have We Achieved From This Model Of Development?

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda –

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

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.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    2

    “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. “
    *
    The Port City project is a logical extension of the development model initiated in 1978.
    I will not blame all the environmental damage on it, although much of the harm is the result of consumerism which is an inalienable part of the 1978 model of development.
    *
    The debt trap was laid in 1978 and the war provided pretext for further borrowing. It was during the war that the government reached out for private moneylenders who perhaps constitute the largest group of lenders.
    *
    Father Sarath’s concerns are wider than than issue based complaints and need to be dovetailed with a holistic programme for retrieval of the country.

  • 7
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    Port city is built as a base for china to spy on and infiltrate india.

    • 1
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      Humble ,
      I am humbled by your comment. But still there is some “but” Your wording suggest that Chitanta, Yahapalanaya, Royal governments willingly gave it China. It appears like that too because. Reality is Lankawe media hide anything of Sinhala Intellectuals and War crime leaders’ shames but they both don’t mind to walk in Emperor’s new cloths. Chitanata lost 50 main computers’ working ability in 2013 and regained it only after pledging the Colombo Pong Cing. Yahapanaya delayed on the name of Environmental study and paid $280M. That is $30 more than the price Chandrika agreed to China for Nuraicholai project. Lankawe could not deny anything China wanted in Lankawe, after the 2009 war. Lankawe will not be able deny anything to China in future too, even if Tamils give up War Crime justice or China votes against Lankawe. The current relationship between Lankawe and China is master-slave oriented. It is not anything related to political, geographical, philosophical, economical, brothers races like China – Taiwan, Religion like OIC countries…….. It is like how Dom Juan died hard to marry a servant Portuguese girl sold the Kotte Kingdom & Bald heads, just like a slavery mind to make beyond $18B. It is the Greedy the Sinhala Buddhism has cultivated within them.

  • 4
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    A very good narrative.

    • 1
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      Fr.Sarath,
      “According to my memories, when people struggled no political party took any serious step to support their cause.”
      The “people” only form opinions from what they hear.
      The JVP was consistently against it. But the others used it as a political football.

  • 3
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    An excellent article.
    Port City has often been dubbed as “Sri Lanka’s new Dubai”. I like the comparison. Dubai has built 300 man-made islands of which 298 are empty.
    Let’s see the (interesting) facts about the MASSIVE CORRUPTION involving Port City:-
    1. Cost
    –Dubai to reclaim 300 man-made islands with an extent of 5000 hectares = US$ 14 billion.
    –Colombo to build JUST ONE man-made island with an extent of 269 hectares = free sand + US$ 15 billion.
    .
    2. Sand
    –For 300 man-made islands in Dubai = 320 million cubic meters of sand.
    –For JUST ONE man-made island in Colombo = 264 million cubic meters of sand (source: portcitycolombo.lk – 2016).
    .
    3. Rocks
    –For 300 man-made islands in Dubai = 25 million metric tons of rock.
    –For JUST ONE man-made island in Colombo = 6.54 million cubic meters of rock (If the density is 1.4MT/1M3, then it is 9.1 million metric tons of rocks for Colombo)
    .
    4. Environmental impact of sand dredging
    –Dubai – I don’t know.
    –Colombo – Inestimable. Therefore, not even bothered to assess. Huh.
    .
    5. Was the Environmental Impact Assessment credible? How did Port City get the approval for such a massive amount of sand dredging and quarry mining?
    Dubai – I am not bothered.
    Colombo – Obviously through intimidation, death threats and bribes.
    .
    Who is more corrupt? The Rajapaksas or China?

  • 2
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    An excellent piece by Fr. Iddamalgoda. The social and environmental costs of this port city would far outweigh any economic benefits, which in any case will be siphoned off by those who are waiting to line their pockets. Not to mention what an eye sore it is going to be. The old Colombo used to have charm but that is all going to disappear in our lifetime.

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