Advocates income support programme for fishing communities
Govt. will receive minimum of 63 hectares of land at current market value of Rs.225b
By Uditha Jayasinghe
The proposed Chinese funded $ 1.4b Port City project took one step closer to recommencing with the release of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by state departments that showed it would not lead to coastal erosion and would have no effect on fish resources in the area.
The EIA, which was released for public evaluation, found the impact of sand dredging north of the port city site required an income support program to be implemented for communities engaged in fishing
“Due to the construction of the Colombo South Harbour, the incremental environmental impacts from the construction of Colombo Port City is minimal/negligible at the reclamation site and the coastal zone to the North and South of the site,” the report stated.
It also pointed out there will be no reduction in fishing ground in the reclamation area since this is not an ideal habitat for fish breeding due to already silted conditions.
Both the company and the Government will take turns at identifying and picking their share of the 233 hectares of reclamation proposed, the EIA noted with the state owned share to reach a value of Rs.225 billion at current price.
To complete the Port City project, a total of 2.83million cubic meters of quarry material and 65 million cubic meters of dredged sea sand will be required, the report noted. It also identified a total of 11 different quarry sites with required approval located in Kaduwela, Hanwella, Padukka, Delgoda and Divulapitiyathat have been surveyed for obtaining quarry material for construction of necessary structures to protect the reclamation.
“The required quantity of Port City works out to around 43% of the quarry material available at these sites. Furthermore the 11 quarry sites represent around 7-9% of the total registered quarries in the Colombo and Gampaha districts. Consequently the impact of this project on the national quarry material requirement would be negligible and therefore no price impact to the construction industry,” it said.
Around 300 six wheeler trucks and 38 ten wheelers are to be used for transportation from quarry sites to the project site. Transportation shall be done through two sessions avoiding peak hours and visa six different routes to minimise traffic congestion, the EIA advocated.
The Government had been giving strong signals over the last few weeks that the project will be allowed to continue with Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake telling parliament the land will not be given on a free-hold basis to the Chinese company but on a 99-year lease. This week he told South China Morning Post the Government had given all “necessary clearances.”
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also made statements hinting that the port city will be part of the Megapolis project spearheaded by the Government to covert Colombo into a financial hub for South Asia. It also popped up during a parliament speech by Megapolis Minister Champika Ranawaka and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters talks with the company aimed to restart work by February 2016.
Multinational China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company is creating the new island off Colombo’s harbor, which was started during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time in power.
However, the new Government stopped construction in March 2015. As a result of this suspension, CCCC has said it incurs an initial direct loss for the company of $380,000 per day. The company subsequently appealed to the Government to allow a 50m breakwater to be built as a protective barrier to prevent erosion of the partially completed island from erosion.