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Port City: several steps taken by govt. on good intentions - CA


The Court of Appeal yesterday observed that the government has taken several steps with good intentions regarding the Colombo Port City Project and further viewed that Court could not intervene in such development projects.

Court of Appeal President Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda made this remarks sequent to the writ petition filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) which sought an order suspending what it described as illegal agreements entered into with the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company without following the proper legal procedures as prescribed in the Ports Authority Act.

Justice Malalgoda observed that no one knew about an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the Port City Project when it was presented in 2011.

However, he observed that the government has taken measures to stop the project until renegotiating the agreements between the parties.

Justice Malalgoda said a new EIA report was too was opened for the public to get their views.

"Once the government gets involved in a development project, the Court would not take over it," he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Solicitor General Arjuna Obeysekara appearing for the Attorney General maintained that the petition cannot be maintained that since the petitioner's plea for a new EIA has been already fulfilled by the respondents.

However, Counsel Ravindranath Dabare with Nilmal Wickremasinghe and Sugath Atapattu appearing for the petitioner informed Court that they cannot be satisfied with the supplementary EIA report.

Accordingly, the petition was fixed for support on March 16.

In this petition, the CEJ had cited the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, the Director General of Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource, the Central Environmental Authority, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioner said a sea area of 575 acres opposite Galle Face Green was being reclaimed by the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company for the Port City Project.

The petitioner said the Director General of Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource had issued a no-objection letter to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority in relation to the so called EIA report in September 2014 while the second respondent has issued the final approval for the so-called EIA study pertaining to the project and they have approved the so-called Environmental Management plan submitted by the Chinese Company.

The petitioner said according to the so-called EIA study, the primary objective was only to reclaim 300 acres and the EIA study had been prepared based on that assumption but the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company had planned to reclaim a sea area of 575 acres which was almost double the area taken into consideration for the EIA study which was approved by the first and second respondents.

(DM - 26012016)

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