Friday, April 08, 2016



Colombo Port City is a clear case of the wrong policy of the past regime. Undoubtedly this is why the  Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe proclaimed  that he will scrap the Port City, once he come to power.  But he too is planning to go ahead without any changes, breaking the promises he made to the voters. Why this project is so powerful?
Undoubtedly the Colombo port city is feasible for China as its not a stand along project, but a strategic point of the China maritime Silk Route with One Road One belt strategy connecting Asia, Middle East and Europe. Its a business plan, political strategy and a security plan for China.

However, there is no study to prove that its feasible for Sri Lanka. It might suck the Sri Lankan economy and the  current business districts will become just down town. Those  medium and small businesses who are silent  on the Port City might be gone when they wake up.  Majority local businesses cannot afford to  have the properties in the Port City  according to the experts.

The government of Sri Lanka is dreaming about a  offshore financial market with the Port City. However Sri Lanka does not have regulations to govern the same. There is plenty of demand for gamblers  and fun seekers. This may be one way to  promote the proposed city.  The related social issues may be serious however, the main question we can raise today is whether this is environmentally feasible? 

This can be answered by reading the so called Environmental Impacts Assessment.  The Project will require 65 million cubic meters of sea sand and 3.45 million cubic meters of rock material.  Sea sand will be mining in more than 150 square kilo meter area between Colombo and Negombo up to the depth of 2 meters within a 3 year period.  Almost 15,000 fishermen depending on this fishing grounds.  Similarly , rock material will be transported from existing quarry sites in Kaduwela, Diviulapitya etc., and almost 3000  truck loads will hit the colombo traffic daily.  Most quarry sites already have social and environmental problems.  The EIA states that the project will relocate the operations in the Jaya Container terminal in the private terminals and sell the lands. This can be seen as a privatisation and selling public lands for outsiders. 

Chinese investors as well as certain politicians say that stopping the port city will loose USD 1.5 billion worth project.  However, they should aware that the sand and rock material they will be dumping to reclaim the sea is worth over USD 4 billion which own by the public in the country.  Under this agreement Sri Lanka do not get the equity for these natural resources.

Technically part of the project site  will be naturally filled with sea sand due to the obstruction of the sand movement by the South Harbour recently  completed without much public attention. Therefore it is safe to reclaim an area less than 100 hectares. But filling 269 hectares as proposed by the Chinese investor is detrimental to the coast and the fishermen livelihood. 

The proposed Magapolis plan to fill a small area for public recreation may be a more feasible project.  Yet the current regime is planning to sign the agreement with China to build the Colombo Port City as proposed by Chinese investor against the public wish is a failure of the Good Governance regime. 

The projects is funded by  the China Exim Bank , a loan given to the China Communication Construction Company(CCCC).  Sri Lanka is not responsible for this loan. The Sri Lankan counterpart of the port city is the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. It does not have a mandate to reclaim the ocean. Therefore, entering to an agreement with Chinese investor is a wrong act of the Ports authority. There is no reason to pay any cost to the Chinese investor for the delay or stopping the project when the agreement is illegal.

It is very much known that the EIA process conducted by the CCD and the concurrence approval given by the CEA is a fraud. CEA was forced to give the approval knowing that the CCD and the project developer failed to respond to the issues related to sand mining and others.  According to the Supplementary EIA, there is no adequate sand available in the proposed sites. Instead the SEIA propose to purchase sea sand from the SLRDC. The EIA for this purpose still not done. Therefore, CEA and CCD has no right to approve the project before this matter cleared.

These agencies have approved the project due to the strong political pressure.  It is better if the politicians with vested interest leave the  authorities to run an unbias EIA process. According to the Constitution article 27 (14) The State shall protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community. It is the duty of the Citizens to make sure  the elected regime is respecting to the Constitution. (END)

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