Environmental group guns for  Colombo Port City project

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

A Sri Lankan environmentalist body reminded newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena of his promise to stop the USD 1.5 billion China-financed Colombo Port City project.

The Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies (CENS) yesterday called on President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to immediately stop its construction.

They alleged that it was having an adverse impact on the country’s delicate marine ecosystem.

The Colombo Port City encompassing 233 hectares is to be constructed in two stages in eight years. The total land area for the project is 233 hectares and that area will totally be reclaimed from the sea. The proposed area will include facilities such as access roads, electricity, communication and all other infrastructure facilities together with landscaping, including construction of lakes.

President Sirisena, however, said that he wanted to wean Sri Lanka off its dependence on China during his election campaign earlier this month. The Prime Minister also said last December that the new government would scrap the Colombo Port City Project.

Ravindra Kariyawasam of CENS asked the President to keep his promise before he forgot it.

Citing the environmental damage to be caused by Dubai Palm City project, Kariyawasam claimed that the local project which had been going on without a proper assessment would damage the western coastal line including Panadura, Angulana, Mount Lavinia, Uswetakeyyawa and Negombo.

Kariyawasam noted that the dredging and filling such a mass of sea area would lead to coastal erosion and alter the balance of marine species in the area.

Claiming that the project had not obtained a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), he said that the artificial island, when completed, would contain a large number of residential and commercial properties and they would take a heavy toll on marine life in the Indian Ocean.

The construction of the project had already commenced with millions of tons of rocks and other debris being dumped into the sea and that would affect the natural coral formations as well as the weeds in the seabed, he said.

The delicate eco-system of coral reefs, mangrove coastal areas and sea grass habitats would be depleted, Kariyawasam maintained.

He claimed that the project would damage the marine Eco-system along the western coast of Sri Lanka and endanger the fishing industry.

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