By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Court of Appeal has issued an Interim Order preventing the tourism project at Sallitivu Islet of Vakarai in the Batticaloa District.
The Bench comprising Justices P. Padman Surasena (President/CA) and Arjuna Obeysekra issued this order operative till 6 August. The Court also issued notices on the Respondents returnable for 6 August.
Petitioner Environmental Foundation (Guarantee) Ltd. filed its Writ petition in public interest as well as for the protection of environment.
It cited Director General of Coast Conservation and Coastal Resources Management Department, Batticaloa District Secretary, Central Environmental Authority, Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, Attorney General and others as Respondents.
Viran Corea with Sarita de Fonseka and S. Samaraarachchi appeared for the Petitioner. Senior Additional Solicitor Fazana Jameel with Senior State Council Suranga Wimalasena appeared for the Attorney General.
Petitioner states the tourism project under the name “Leisure and Pleasure Pristine Eco Culture” was being carried out at Sallitivu Islet, Vakarai wherein the islet is 275 metres in length and 155 metres wide and is seasonally connected to the mainland through a sanc bar or and bridge of about 250 metres in length.
It states that a Report was published by the Coastal Conservation and Coastal Resources Management Department revealing that more than 98% of the plant species were native to Sri Lanka and main natural habitats observed include mangroves, coastal scrub, beach associated vegetation which support a rich biodiversity.
It laments that the first stage of the project was nearing completion without the requisite approvals in an ecologically sensitive area.
It complains there could be serious implications on the environment if the project progresses without the requisite approvals and environment clearance.
The Petitioner is seeking an order from the Court to prevent the Respondents from proceeding with any activity on Sallitivu Islet until requisite approvals are obtained.