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Ad hoc policies ‘may cause flash floods, droughts’

Sri Lanka may face flash floods and droughts in the near future because of ad hoc policies and short-term economic plans that could have a direct impact on the surrounding environment, environmental lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said.

He was speaking on the topic titled ‘Can we rely on current disaster/environmental impact assessment systems?’ at a seminar on ‘Development triggered disasters are we ready’ held yesterday at the Sri Lanka Press Institute in Colombo.

He said most of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports, especially on mini-hydros and other development projects, were based on short economic feasibility studies rather than on other aspects like the environment.

Speaking on the Hambantota harbour, he said the Government should have looked for possibilities in developing the Galle harbour instead of spending huge amounts that would not achieve the expected results.

He said that when going for future development one should consider the factors like the availability of oil and other natural resources.

Although the harbour would bring in long-term investments as expected it could also affect the surrounding farming areas when sea water gets into the soil, he added.

Gunawardena said the concept of having the Hambantota harbour would eventually create an artificial island in Hambantota.

When the salinity level goes up in the vicinity it would also affect the Yodha Wewa, he said.

The seminar was organised by Practical Action Sri Lanka.

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