By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
A public tribunal hosted by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Sri Lanka yesterday decided that the Port City project should be cancelled, as all benefits it may provide are outweighed by economic, social, environmental and political harm.
“They (China Communications Construction Company Ltd.) simply say that there are no impacts. The economic, environmental and social harms far outweigh the benefits. We have to stop this,” Attorney-at-Law S. G. Punchihewa, who chaired the panel of judges said.
Attorney-at-Law Chandrapala Kumarage and Coast Conservation expert Dr. Jayampathy Samarakoon made up the rest of the panel.
Quoting various individuals who had presented their cases against the development of the Port City, Punchihewa said that 32,000 species of marine life could be destroyed, and along with coastal degradation, would affect up to 500,000 lives depending on the fisheries industry.
He added that coastal tourism would face harm, which would not justify the 83,000 jobs and tourism opportunities created by the Port City.
Punchihewa also said villagers in the areas where the 8.5 million tonnes of sand and granite are being mined are facing difficulties as well.
He said that an Environment Impact Assessment had not been completed, and the whole project was based on a report compiled by an academic who was at the University of Moratuwa, who has since been employed by the Chinese, and added that proper archaeological assessments were also not done.
Meanwhile, Punchihewa noted that if Port City project goes ahead, the country would have to face what he called “constitutional crises.”
Punchihewa said that the foreign land ownership would give China rights to the airspace, and a maritime territorial strip extending up to 200 nautical miles.
“Will our executive, judiciary and legislature be effective in there? Will the people living there be Chinese or Sri Lankan?” Punchihewa asked. Further, he said that the agreement between the two countries was commercial, and written just to reclaim land, and not to construct any buildings.
Punchihewa and the testifiers said the new regime is now not concerned with the project despite saying that they will halt it during election season.
However, no government representatives, professionals in the construction or tourism industry and officials of CCCC were present at the tribunal to either express their ides or to defend themselves.
The government is currently conducting a special investigation into the matter, while CCCC has claimed that it has submitted all relevant paperwork.
The Chamber of Construction Industry recently called the government to allow the Port City to go ahead, as it said that proper procedure has been followed, and that retracting signed agreements would paint an extremely negative picture in the minds of potential investors.
However, the professional body was also criticized at the tribunal for not caring about the public.
The findings of the tribunal will be forwarded to the President and the Prime Minister shortly.
Comments - 15
Metteyya Saturday, 11 April 2015 07:56 PM
Why does George Soros - a wealthy American Jew who controls Transparency International get a say in what gets developed or not in Sri Lanka?
DJ Monday, 13 April 2015 09:28 AM
This project is too much for a small country to handle, think for the next 100 years and make it a 50 to 60 hectre development project and move all banking, export/import operations to the new development which can be a win win situation for both China and Sri Lanka
Gamarala Saturday, 11 April 2015 11:32 AM
It looks like most who oppose this project have an ulterior motive. Many are the countries around the world who have developed projects such as this one, without any environmental damage. These objections have no scientific validity. This is progress and we should continue with this project.
Jaliya Sunday, 12 April 2015 05:19 PM
Most of Sri Lankans belong in caves..... The way they act and reacts The project without approvals shall be cancelled with no questions asked.
iemerald Saturday, 11 April 2015 12:32 PM
what this transparency international should do is present to the public a comprehensive and detailed report ob its findings and exactly it impacts on the people and the economy.all one hears is it impacts on this indudtry that industry, it harms villages etc.
Raja Sunday, 12 April 2015 09:44 PM
Who appointed this Tribunal? Is this another small minded, politically motivated, anti-Chinese Tribunal, not caring for the future of Sri Lanka? The only issue in this project is the ownership of a plot of land by the Chinese company, once reclaimed and this could be changed if the impact is true.
Siribiris Wednesday, 15 April 2015 03:17 PM
How do we know they (TI) is a cleaned body or agent?. The conduct of TI in related to Sri Lanka issues were very pathetic, questionable and harmful to Sri Lanka in the past. Therefore, it is not surprise ti see the " verdict" of this " tribunal". Authorities should kindly check the bank accounts and sources of funding of the " panel of experts and Judges", to understand the motives of this move and,it is very wise to appoint an another " Police Unit" by the Government to very firmly deal with economic Saboteurs.
sg Saturday, 11 April 2015 08:00 AM
Good , now public policies making by these organisations ...go head...
n,sarveswaramoorthy Saturday, 11 April 2015 08:09 AM
Political revenge going to affect the progress of the country
Patriot Monday, 13 April 2015 05:48 AM
What rubbish are you talking Mr Ashroff?
Herath Saturday, 11 April 2015 04:08 PM
Opposing is very easy and cheap propaganda mechanism.
Ashroff H Saturday, 11 April 2015 08:42 AM
this project is not acceptable, this is like giving Ealam to China. any country can help, but no country can claim absolute ownership our territory.
VIRAJ.HEWAGE@GMAIL.COM Saturday, 11 April 2015 04:18 PM
lets go back to stone age and live in caves.
Harry Boteju Saturday, 11 April 2015 09:31 AM
Indian Govt. Funded public tribunal !!!
snal Sunday, 12 April 2015 04:29 AM
voted for this government to see a positive change in the country, I MADE A MISTAKE!
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