Environment Issues Of Port City Not Resolved
by Hafsa Sabry(Sunday Leader News paper)
The construction work on port city project has resumed. Only the name of the project has been changed and none of the environmental issues have been resolved. The Colombo International Financial city project is being continued under the National Physical Plan (NPP) of the country.
The environmentalists said that they requested the government to consider the destruction caused by the project and to stop it. A new Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) was conducted and the project is being continued with a new name under the good governance government. It is noteworthy that the project was confirmed to be illegal by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka when petition filed against the project by the Center for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) was taken up. . “Even the environmental authorities during inspection confirmed it is a violation of laws,” the director of CENS Ravindra Kariyawasam said.
Nevertheless, development projects like the Colombo Commercial City are being carried out in Venice, Moscow, Istanbul, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, and three towns in China including Sri Lanka to which land and sea are being acquired by the project constructors. 65 countries including Sri Lanka have signed agreements with China to carry out development projects in their countries during the last two years.
Due to this development projects the precious environment and the people around the world are being affected. Jill Moore Select Properties, Pinsent Masons, Price waterhouse Coopers, AECOM,( the global infrastructure services company) , ATKINS-the Audit Committee and Sweco an Engineering company have banded together to complete and assist these development projects.
The Colombo International Financial city is to be constructed between the southern edge of the new Colombo South Port and the Fort Lighthouse reclaiming approximately 672acres from the sea and, the construction is being carried out by the Chinese Government. 15 billion Sri Lankan rupees was allocated in the 2014 budget. Another Loan running in to billions is expected from China at a higher interest rate.
However, only 125 acres of land in the commercial city will be under government control at the end of the project and 20 acres will be given to the Communication Construction Company Limited, the builders of the Colombo Commercial city Project a subsidiary of Chinese Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC). The rest of the land will be leased out to China for 99 years.
The project will include roads, water, electricity, and communication facilities with shopping areas, water sports area, mini golf course, hotels, apartments, and recreation areas are expected to be completed within 39 months. Large parts of income from these will go to Chinese government and the investors.
The China Communication Construction Co’ Ltd (CCCC) is alleged to be one of the most corrupted company in China and after getting cabinet approval in 2014 they began the construction on September 17, the same year .The environmentalists further claimed that if a project is given the approval by the cabinet in Sri Lanka, it considers the advantages and the benefits for the country and its people whereas the project of The Colombo International Financial city has given more opportunities and advantages to China and its Business interests.
Despite the promises of developments in Sri Lanka, the commercial city project paves the way for china’s income growth that will result in Sri Lanka’s economy being controlled by China in future while, damaging the precious environment of Sri Lanka. The government should closely study the effects on nature, environment, flora and fauna and corals which will definitely be damaged, therefore the project should be stopped immediately, the environmentalists further claimed. The first estimate of the environmental pollution for this project was submitted by the president of Master Divers Company Aariyashri Wickramanayake and a second estimate was also submitted allowing the project to be continued. This leads to an unanswered question as to how a government claimed to have good governance policies could approve a project depending only by the economical aspect of it while this project is completely against laws applicable to environmental sector.
Since, we have no experience or observation studies in building a commercial city we should consider the effects that resulted after 10 years of building the palm city in Dubai in 2003. It has been 13 years since the commercial city was built in Dubai and the environment and flora and fauna of the country are damaged while the fishermen in the country are affected.
Professor David George of the environmental museums in London says the flora and fauna of the palm city area has been damaged as a result of the project. This will be the result for Sri Lanka if The Colombo International Financial city project is completed. The chemicals that will be applied to the mini golf grounds and the waste disposal of restaurants, hotels luxury residencies and casinos will also be dumped into the sea which will result in the change of water habitats.
In the meantime, oil and chemical which will cover the surface as a result of the disposals into the sea will prevent the sunlight from entering the deep sea which will also prevent the growth of sea plants and effects the water creatures that needs sunlight to survive. It is clear that Sri Lanka will face many environmental problems and law violations the Chinese constructers, investors and their government will get a lot of benefit says the environmentalists.