Environmentalists are of the opinion that the recent Cabinet decision to allow the transportation of sand, granite and soil without permits will have negative impacts on the environment in both the short and long term.
Environment, Wildlife Resources, Land and Land Development Minister S.M. Chandrasena said the decision was made to facilitate those engaged in the construction industry.
Lawyer and environmental protection activist Jagath Gunawardena told Daily Mirror that the decision would further create environmental hazards.
“There are two types of licenses that should be obtained under the current system such as Industrial Mining License and Transport license. The Transport license is connected with the other license,” Mr Gunawardena said.
He said the Industrial Mining License provides a limited quantity for the mining while Transport License determines the quantity of sand, granite or soil. “It is baffling to determine whether the quantity is exceeded or mining has taken place from an unauthorised site at the absence of a Transport License,” Mr Gunawardena said.
Hence, abolishing transport license leads to confusion,” he added.
He said there had not been a proper monitoring procedure when it came to sand, granite, soil mining and there were some shortcomings in the industry.
However, the permit system has controlled illegal mining activities to a certain extent but now it might further aggravate the situation.
Meanwhile, speaking to Daily Mirror, Centre for Environmental Justice Chairman, Attorney-at-Law Ravindranath Dabare said there was no point in abolishing the license without proper monitoring.
“What should be done is to carry out the proper procedure to monitor mining activities. This situation provides more room for illegal mining,” Mr Dabare said.
In addition, Environmentalist Pubudu Weeraratne told Daily Mirror said the decision would definitely have some adverse consequence on the environment.
“This will encourage people to be engaged in mining activities, which would gradually expand resulting in some people to engage in illicit mining,” Weeraratne said.
However, Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said the suspension of the law to obtain a license for the transportation of sand, stones and soil, by the cabinet on Tuesday would be effective only for a shorter period and an expert report is expected on the matter at the next Cabinet meeting. (Sheain Fernandopulle)