In The Press

Response of CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd

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The Port City project has to be looked at from the development aspect not merely to serve the needs of the present, but for urban life several generations away. While the NGOs who have been protesting against this massive development project have been saying somewhat the same story, which is that we need to save our environment for the future generations, they somehow seem to be missing that this project is being carried out with all the checks and balances that are necessary from the environmental and social aspect.

When we talk of the future and the people who would live in Sri Lanka, we have to take into consideration the projections made by UN-Habitat that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Having said that, one cannot build a city without sustainability in mind as it is a mandatory factor from a marketing point of view. So we would not be following sustainability practices just merely because it’s the right thing to do but also because it is a part of the business plan of this new city.

And for this reason, the Port City has a detailed development permit with 72 conditions issued after the EIA was approved, which is being followed meticulously, so that our progress is mapped for scrutiny. In addition to this, there are 26 Government agencies who are monitoring and reporting the different aspects of the Port City development project.

It is clear that certain NGOs continue to spread disinformation about Port City. This time they have regrouped under a new banner to bring out the same rhetoric whereas all relevant points of contention have been explained in various press responses and the 2 EIA studies.. We believe there is a hidden agenda to the spread of this misinformation.

It is clear that certain NGOs continue to spread disinformation about Port City. This time they have regrouped under a new banner

For example, the theory that Colombo city buildings would sink spread by the NGOs, was a result of a hypothesis presented by one particular private company at the IESL a couple of months ago. This got blown out of proportion in the media. Carmel Corea is basing her arguments taking this report as truth when there is no scientific basis to back the hypothesis. This is irresponsible behavior and fear mongering.

As per the numerous statements made by Port City in the past, sand dredging is carried out in a completely sustainable manner at distances of over 7.5km from the shoreline, and at depths of 15m or more. It is a scientifically proven fact any qualified coastal engineer will confirm that any dredging beyond the coastal zone of around 2km from the shoreline and more than 8m in depth has no impact on coastal erosion. Port City was imposed limits of more than double this minimum standard. Also, all offshore sand mining sites used for dredging will comply with environmental regulations. Therefore, the Government allocation for coastal erosion has nothing to do with Port City

Also, the dredging has no impact on livelihoods as the depth of dredging is limited to 3m from the surface of the seabed, and a thickness of sediment of at least 0.5m is maintained. This practice prevents impacts on fish breeding. As for granite we have to clearly state that the Port City project obtains its granite from 11 quarries (which have their own EIA approval) in the Colombo and Gampaha districts amounting to only 7% of the quarry reserves of these districts. We have to categorically state that no coral reefs have been destroyed due to the Port City project and this was addressed in the SEIA. Also, the Coast Conservation Department has confirmed that there is no coastal erosion due to the project.

We need to categorically state that the Supplementary Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) report is a very comprehensive document which has taken all aspects deemed necessary for an EIA into consideration. There was a stringent inspection and evaluation process and was put up for public scrutiny and received 215 written responses. As a result of this process, Site 1 for sand mining which was located between 2- 4 kms from the shoreline was taken off the dredging map. As for sand mining costs, it falls into the overall budget of the development project where 3 dredgers have been brought in and sand is being obtained from approved sites. Annual demand for construction sand in Sri Lanka is estimated at 12 million cubic metres. However, due to high salinity of sea sand, despite its price being much less than river sand, only 3% of construction in Sri Lanka is carried out using sea sand. i.e. only 0.36 million cubic meters of sea sand is used.

The SEIA does not violate any law. The National Environment Act clearly has provision for Supplementary EIAs. In any case, the SEIA states that this document can be considered as a stand-alone document independent of the EIA as all aspects covered in EIA are more comprehensively covered in SEIA. For example there is a detailed cost benefit analysis carried out in the SEIA.

At this point in time, the effect of particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5 are purely academic where Port City is concerned because the current readings are within safety limits. However, we would like to point out that both the SEIA (Dec, 2015) and EIA (Oct, 2017) discuss the particulate matters under the relevant chapters on air quality. In particular, EIA (Oct, 2017), provides records on PM10 and PM2.5, which still comply with safety standards. Also the Government has recently announce of all vehicles being powered by batteries in the future, which will have a positive impact on air quality

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