PMAPC Right of Reply to CHEC P.C. Colombo (Pvt) Ltd statement, published on March 20, 2018.
We make reference to the statement above to clarify some issues muddled by the CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd in response to the joint seminar held on February 28, 2018 by the Creation Care Desk of the Methodist Church and the PMAPC.
EIA 2011 Coast Conservation Act
This sorry saga begins with a slim so-called EIA in 2011, which fulfilled less than 20% of the legal requirements of EIA studies stipulated in Section 42 of the Coast Conservation Act No 57 of 1981. The development permit with its 72 conditions allegedly monitored by 26 Government agencies are a matter of private record and are not available to the public. Monitoring reports are deemed by the participating public institutions, the property of the CHEC Company and confidential. If the checks and balances are being made why has not one monitoring report been made public?
The Urban population of Colombo stands to lose their health for generations to come as they suffer the consequences of high impact construction and the blocking of the flow of fresh air from the moment construction begins in the Colombo Port City. It is a proven fact that construction activities contribute massively to air pollution. This is exacerbated by land filling and vehicle emissions. All construction sites generate high levels of dust (typically from concrete, cement, stone, silica) which can carry for large distances over a long period of time.
Currently toxic PM10 Fine Particles in the City of Colombo are at levels three times higher than what is safe for humans. With the proposed high-rise building constructions in the Port City over an estimated period of 12 to 15 years the PM 10 levels may increase 25-30 times more than what is considered safe for humans.
Such an increase in PM 10 toxic particles will definitely increase the risk of getting respiratory and cardio vascular diseases, including lung cancer as detailed in WHO reports.
Clearly this project is an unacceptable health hazard to the citizens of Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka.
The alleged benefits to the urban population are pie in the sky, but the benefit to the developer is assured for generations to come: Beginning with the landfill the rosy deal they have cut is a guaranteed 100% return within 3 years. The public however will suffer a net loss of not less than $11 billion. CHEC Company have invested $500 million and have obtained a loan of $1 billion. They will make a profit of not less than $1.5 billion from the landfill. Sri Lanka supplies 65 million tons of sand at $2001- is $13 billion. 3.45 million cbm of granite rock @ $380/cbm$1.2 billion. ( December 2015, SEIA).
State lands ordinance
The State Lands Ordinance does not authorize the President to delegate his capacity under Section 60 (3) to reclaim any part of the foreshore of the bed of the sea. As the President has not authorized any lease as stipulated under section 61 of the State Land Ordinance, we assume that this is because this section says that the President must be sure “that such a lease will not substantially prejudice the rights of the public” thereto.
No Provision for Supplementary EIAs in Coast Conservation Act
It is a matter of national importance and historical record that one project has needed much more than two EIAs repeatedly and allegedly addressing different aspects of the project in isolation and without an integrated examination of all inter-related impacts. The law does not identify compartmentalization of the EIA process in a single project. Further the word Supplementary EIA is not known in the Coastal Conservation Act.
There is no hidden agenda, but there exists an open public agenda to protect the well-being of generations living and yet to come.
Prof. Karunaratna’s talk
Prof. G P Karunaratna PhD, PE, FASCE has a PhD in Soil Mechanics from the Victoria University of Manchester was Adjunct Associate Professor at the NUS in Singapore. His response by email to the quarrels about his analysis in part says
“ ... There have been many references to the Port City Reclamation Projects. The effect of this reclamation on the ground water table of the adjacent land, when coupled with intense rainfall in the same area has been discussed with respect to the effect on some of the old buildings and other infrastructure in the said adjacent land.
It was elucidated last December to an audience comprising practicing engineers that, if proper drainage is not constructed and maintained certain despair would occur in those buildings and infrastructure ...” This is not scaremongering, but scientific research in Sri Lanka by a world-renowned expert on marine reclamation.
Fisher folk livelihood support
The right of the fisher folk to engage in a lawful occupation is violated with impunity with an allocation of Rs. 500 million for so-called fisher folk livelihood support and the use of those funds to split the fisher community in Negombo. This sum is an ad hoc allocation without study and with no basis in reality.
Our legal team have identified the following infringements under the Constitution:
Article 14: Freedom to engage in a lawful occupation: the Fundamental rights of the fishers are violated. This violation also extends to the Fundamental Rights of generations unborn.
Article 27(14) which requires the state to protect, preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community.
Article 28 (f) each and every person is duty bound to protect nature and conserve its riches.
All rulers and members of the executive hold the natural resources as a trust to be managed and utilized for generation unborn. They are not the owners. Natural resources are loaned from the future. See Bulankulama vs Secretary, Ministry of Industrial Development (2000) 3 SLR 243.
Other Statutory Violations
Coast Conservation Act 57 of 1981 Sections 4, 14, 15, 15 (b), 16
Ports Authority Act 51 of 1971: Sections 6, 7 & 74
Change of extent requires a new comprehensive EIA
Change of quantity from 65 million tons of sand to 70 million tons of sand needs new EIA
National Environmental Act, Sand extraction illegal has to be authorized by GMSB.
Mines and Minerals Act 33 of 1992 Sections 26, 28,29,30,34 & 35
The question that arises is the huge damage that has been done to our coastline due to both dredging and filling to alter the shore transport currents. There needs to be a thorough investigation on the legality and accountability of the parties to the filling.
But the reality is that we have an illegal filled area on the front of Colombo City. The damage that will be done to Colombo if high rise constructions are allowed is now obvious. If the Central Environmental Authority does not step in even at this last moment to protect our air quality, it will be a damning statement on their partiality.
If high rises and high impact constructions will not be allowed, then what with the landfill?
The alternate to high impact construction will be the establishment of building very high value, low rise, IT enabled, modern, health giving, Green City, the spectacular entry to Asia and the crown jewel of Colombo. We also encourage all Sri Lankans to send in suggestions as to what kind of city-we would like to have? Perhaps a national competition for what we would like to see on that land might be more democratic than the current cabal of the Businessman-Bureaucrat-Politician.
On behalf of
Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
Dr. Ranil Senanayake