I am sure that I speak for many of us who took the promise of the Prime Minister that the Port City’ project was to be scrapped. Now, it seems that it is been broken. This is a shock, I could understand the greedy and ignorant, willing to compromise our nationhood, but to witness our leaders submit cringingly to continue ‘good relations’ so soon after they had come to power was a blow, to my sense of national pride, are we a nation that has accountable and independent government. A nation that lives by enacting it’s laws fairly and ensuring transparency in international transactions. Or will be bullied to accept some secretive contract, because it is in the interests of some other nation ? If there was a ‘contract’, the nature of that contract must be made public. There must be a clear statement weather its action infringes on our national rights, its veracity must be also be established. Has the legality of putting our rocks and soil into our offshore sea and calling it ‘exported’ been proven to be valid?   All islands that suddenly appear, tectonic or volcanic belongs to the country within whose maritime boundaries that land has appeared. The Sandwip Island in Bangladesh, made relatively recently by the deposition of silt at the mouth of the Padma river is another example. The government must seek legal opinion as to the legal status of an island constructed entirely of national assets with our national boundaries. Until this is done, the credibility and the authority of the Prime Ministers office is at stake if the project is allowed to proceed.

Beyond the national boundary issue, there is the veracity of the EIA. This document has had very limited circulation. Should it not be given for public scrutiny, especially when the issue might hinge on national security. There are many issues to consider, but take three examples, water, power and effluent. The EIA should demonstrate the capacity in evaluating the risk factors for Sri Lanka. Take water, already we are living within a restricting watershed. The Rathupaswela incident should remind us that access to clean water is a life or death struggle. How much from our national aquifers will be diverted into this port city? This will create water scarcity at times of low flow and if there is prioritizing water between a rich urban client and a poor ‘native’ client. Diverting rivers to feed some misbegotten project or dream is to steal the water right to those who live within that watershed. If the purported solution is reverse osmosis, from desalinization plant, the question of energy comes in.

Desalination plants much like whole building air conditioners demand a large supply of uninterrupted energy. Where will that come from? If poisonous coal fired power plants are seen as the source of energy to this city, where will they be built? Given the current levels of knowledge on the horrendous health effects of these plants, will the poor Sri Lanka be forced to breathe toxins and watch their children sicken, while, gleaming elevators zoom up and down in the city? I would like to see the EIA on which this project was accepted. I would like to see some public statements on its contents and not just treat the public, with the same dismissive attitude, that was done before.

Finally, it will be interesting to see how the EIA has dealt with the question of waste, especially toxic, electronic and industrial waste. Will Sri Lanka have to function as their garbage dump or will they send it to their point of origin? These are among some critical questions that have to be discussed at the national scale.

If this government is truly interested in the well being of a Sri Lankan nation, they must put such a critical decision as a referendum. Regaining national sovereignty is what my ancestors were about. We almost lost it and now hangs on some potty contract. Is the party about to give up what their founders gained, without consulting with the nation? I hope they will be responsible and act. But, if they continue to cow-tow to the new economic masters, I suggest that they remove the images of my family from the party, as their struggle would have been betrayed!

  • Sunela J

    I believe Rajitha Senaratnes statement on this is not completely accurate nor clear. The special Committee appointed by the PM is still reviewing the project.

    • Dev

      What does the terms “not completely accurate” mean? Either it is accurate or not !
      Does “not completely accurate” mean its a lie?

      The PM before the election promised to scrap it. Now there is a “review”.
      If something is to be scrapped (as promised) then the review must only be on ways and means to break the agreement signed by the previous government. If the review is to in some way continue it, then the PM is in fact going back on his word. Was the scrapping simply an election stage story?

      Coming to Rajitha (RS). He is the “spokesman” right? So his statements are then not official government statements but simply private views? Then why bother to invite the media?
      He seems to have a habit of opening his mouth and inserting his foot inside it frequently. Imagine if the Obama spokesman had this habit ! Let us look at some of his faux pas in his short reign as spokesman (beside the above):

      1) A day after the election, RS claimed that LTTE mastermind KP had fled the country. Soon to be contradicted and shown that KP is still very much in SL and happily in Killinochi too.
      Despite a interpol warrant for his arrest and India wanting him for questioning (Rajiv killing), he roams around free as a bird. Is Killinochi so far for the police. Given the heavy military presence in the Vanni (documented by GV too I believe). I am perturbed by his NON arrest.

      2) This spokesman also claimed the Mohan Pieris has agreed to resign. Only to be contradicted and nothing of this sort happening and having to be thrown out.

      Maybe time for a new “spokesman”?

    • Fitzpatrick

      Sunela J., could you give us your background and connection to the PM? You speak with authority though given your first name only I am wondering who you are.

  • puniselva

    ”We almost lost it”
    What is that ”it” please?

    ”remove the images of my family from the party”

    What is that ”family” please?

  • Jayalath

    I’m very great full to your effort . As far as I know you have contributed considerable amount of articles to salvage the environment on this site . It is admirable . But you have made a serious mistake of falling to trust Sri Lankan political liars ,or hypocrites . I should be honest on this issue .and I wasn’t a person who objected to the port project , because I only concern about the development side of it and the revenue to the country .but as you pointed out if there are serious environmental problems are genuinely exist or can be occurred ,then it is become imperative to concern . Because, The environment should be the primary thing to concern about before any kind of development of any country in the world . as it could harm to all living species regardless where they live geographically .
    So, it is important to think of how far it could affect to our marine resources and water and plants around the progressing hub .im not a qualified person to give an assessment regarding to the impact of environment ,but I know people like RANIL would know better .
    However , I must say this bit as well . It is not easy as we believe to maintain a balance between developments and environment but we must determine to minimise the impact ,if you look at the Chinese concern about the environment of there country which might give you a reasonable thought of their regards .most cities in China seems to be built under less concern about the environment which is a common fact . And as I know Chinese have been drastically warned by the world environmentalists . Yet , we do not know what is their interest of proposing and building the port project in Sri Lanka .but I only can see it will be useful and beneficent in terms of economically .
    And you can imagine how the Indians reacted on this project so far . Who totally rejected the project as if it affect to their security concern in the future . Therefore , India has already issued their distress about it

  • Niran W

    Thank you for this article. There may be ‘compelling’ reasons not to scrap the project entirely. But, in view of the categorical statement made by the PM before the elections, the least he can do, and the honourable thing to do as well is to make a full disclosure of all the facts and explain to the people of this country why the government wishes to proceed with the project. It cannot make secret deals either with China or with the company doing it.

  • puniselva

    Ranil
    Ultimately any project goes to make huge landfill sites. Groundviews is the only channel I can send a message to you:

    Have you noted:
    http://www.trashedfilm.com/

    Please post pictures to show the state of landfills in the South to jerk up SriLankans.

    In the North: http://groundviews.org/2015/01/06/how-is-this-development/

    All Sri Lankan University Geography/environment groups can do aproject of screening ‘Trashed’ in all the campuses AND all over the country:

    http://www.trashedfilm.com/screenings-faq/