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Port City: Measures proposed to reduce air and noise pollution

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The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study on development activities and infrastructure facilities within the reclaimed land area of the Colombo Port City Development Project has proposed several measures to mitigate the impact on air quality and noise levels, while noting there would be an increase in road traffic due to the project. The EIA also has proposed several measure dealing with water quality, wastewater and solid waste management, energy and disaster management and protection of biodiversity, archaeology and heritage sites within the area.

The EIA was made available for public inspection this week. The public can send their comments in writing to the Director General of the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department.

The report said that unloading and loading, construction of buildings and elevated structures would generate considerable amount of dust and impact the air quality and this would trigger temporary health impacts such as respiratory, eye and dermatological diseases and be a nuisance to workers and people in the neighboring areas. Heavy use of construction vehicles and machinery too would impact the air quality, it said.

To mitigate this situation, among the EIA proposals is the construction of temporary dust barriers; maintenance of full time watering trucks to water the road surfaces along which construction vehicles and trucks travel, vehicles transporting earth materials will be covered during transportation, mixing equipment will be sealed properly and vibrating machinery will be equipped with dust collection devices.

To minimise the noise and vibration caused by the machinery used for the project, the EIA has recommended limiting noise generating activities and machinery to the night time as well as erecting noise barriers to cover individual construction sites. The EIA has also taken an in-depth look at the increase in traffic into Colombo both during the construction phase of the project and after it is completed.

The report said the transportation of construction material for the project should be avoided during peak traffic hours within and immediate vicinity of Colombo City. To deal with the increase in traffic within and nearby roads of the Port City once it is in operation, the EIA has made several proposals including the implementation of the railway electrification project, elevated port access road from the New Kelaniya Bridge and the marine drive extension.

The EIA also looked at the impact on reef biodiversity in the ocean in the area round the Port City and the anticipated impact on archaeological sites within the area.

The archeological sites identified in the area include Galbokka Light House, Dutch Prison/warehouse, Maritime Museum Building, Harbour Master’s Office, Clippenburg House and the Old Parliament Building.

The report said these structures could be potentially impacted during heavy construction activities such as pile driving and other ground compaction and hence construction in the area should be carried out only under the supervision of an officer representing the Department of Archaeology.

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