By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
A proposed 4,000 acre aquaculture park in Mannar, which has received Cabinet approval and attracted plans for US$ 72 million in initial private sector investments as a part of reaching a US$ 1.5 billion target in seafood exports, is facing roadblocks, an industry stakeholder told Mirror Business.
“Cabinet approval was obtained for the entire park, and then one company which completed its documentation fast also got cabinet approval. After that, I think it was the Wildlife Minister, I’m not sure who, brought in a gazette declaring it a national park,” Sri Lanka Seafood Exporters Association Spokesman Channa Weeratunga said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a recent seminar organized by the Young Professionals Association of the United National Party in Colombo, Weeratunga said the association was very conscious about environmental impacts.
“We understand that the environment has to be protected. But that area has no trees and only some bushes grow. There’s no drinking water. It’s just barren land which can’t be used for any other economic purpose,”
he added. While the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ministry refused to comment on ongoing discussions within the government, Sustainable Development and Wildlife Ministry Secretary R. M. D. B. Meegasmulla said that this area, along with others, were declared as national parks based on a classification by the Central Environment Authority.