The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 7

By Maneshka Borham
L
ast week the Police an-
nounced that it will be
taking a much harsher
stance against child en-
dangerment due to the sudden
and somewhat strange increase of
child deaths since the beginning
of 2015. According to the Police,
four such deaths have occurred
just within last two weeks that
can be mainly linked to parental
neglect and inattentiveness.
The first of these tragic deaths
occurred on January 24. On that
day a four-year-old girl was killed
when she fell off the 22nd floor
of the Havelock City Apartment
Complex within approximately 10
minutes of going missing. In this
instance, she had been allowed
to travel up the lift with only her
nine-year-old sister for protection
resulting in her untimely death.
“Sadly, this death occurred due
to not receiving the proper care
and protection needed for a child
of this age,” SSP Ajith Rohana
said.
Thereafter,
another
three
deaths of children aged four and
below have occurred, according
to the Police. Curiously, all three
deaths have occurred in close
proximity to their houses and
cause of deaths has been due to
drowning in either wells or riv-
ers. Inall these cases, the children
had slipped the attention of their
guardians for only a matter of
minutes showing that such trag-
edies can occur in a very short
time period. Parents and guard-
ians must at all times be atten-
tive to the whereabouts of their
children.
According to the Police
Spokesperson, the recent deaths
have called for the Police to take
strict action in order to prevent
such tragic deaths from occur-
ring. While admitting that these
are natural deaths, addressing
the media Police Spokesperson
SSP Ajith Rohana went as far
to say that even individuals fail-
ing to ensure child safety by not
minimizing dangers in their
properties therefore will be pe-
nalized, if found out, due to the
seriousness of the current situ-
ation.
“Firstly, we hope to take strict
action against those neglecting
their children in this manner in-
cluding the child’s parents,” he
said adding that the Police will
also take severe action against
those failing to maintain a safe
environment. “For example, if
an individual has a well in his
property he must ensure it is
covered and secure,” SSPRohana
explained. Further elaborating,
he said that if there are walls
in near collapsing state, own-
ers should repair them in order
to safeguard those living in the
vicinity. “Those failing to take
such steps will be charged un-
der the Police Ordinance,” SSP
Rohana said adding that the Po-
lice will also make checks and
issue warnings to households
that have such safety issues. “If
these warnings are not heeded,
those individuals will be taken
into custody and charged,” he
said.
Parents may let their guard
down, especially when the child
is in their care at home due to
the familiarity of the surround-
ings. Many parents, therefore,
might not view the uncovered
well at home as a danger due to
the child growing up in these
surroundings.
Like SSP Ajith Rohana admit-
ted good parents do not inten-
tionally let harm come to their
children, however settling into
a false sense of security could
be the pitfall for many as can
be seen from the recent past.
It is questionable if the Police
alone can rectify the situation
and how practical it is for them
to look into every nook and cor-
ner ensuring every household
is safe for the children living in
close proximity. As can be seen
it only takes a few minutes for
a tragedy to occur. Therefore
rather than leaving this Hercu-
lean task to the Police, parents
at all times should provide the
protection and care the child
needs to prevent such meaning-
less deaths.
7
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Focus
By Kishani Samaraweera
T
he Colombo Port City, the single
biggest private sector develop-
ment in the history of Sri Lanka
which has attracted a lot of criti-
cism for the past few months regarding
its status, is now halted according to the
government, due to unresolved environ-
mental problems pertaining to the sur-
roundings of the project. However, it was
reported on February 13 (Friday) that de-
spite the statement made by the govern-
ment, the construction of the port city
project still continues. Environmental im-
pacts, potential threat to the national se-
curity of India and also the question that
China be given a part of it to reclaim their
investment are some of the issues related
to the Colombo Port City project.
Approval
The Port City project received the cabi-
net approval in January 2014 to proceed
as a strategic development project. The
investment is made by the China Commu-
nications Construction Company (CCCC)
and the cost for the total project is USD 1.4
billion. According to CHEC Colombo Port
City (Pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of CCCC, has
been assigned to undertake all land rec-
lamation and infrastructure work for the
Port City, the initial plan was to build 233
hectares. According to the Sri Lanka Ports
Authority (SLPA) the total investment for
the project will surpass USD 2 billion and
the developers will also provide 250 hect-
ares of land to the SLPA free.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) in
2010 has commissioned the University of
Mortuwa to carry out an initial technical
feasibility study and also an Environmen-
tal Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Port
City development project. The study was
completed in 2011. Accordingly, it was
submitted to the Coast Conservation and
Coastal Resource Management Depart-
ment by the SLPA. In October 2014, the
Coastal Resource Management Depart-
ment has issued its final approval for the
EIA pertaining to the project.
According to CHEC Colombo Port City
(Pvt) Ltd, Environmental Management
Plan (EMP) was also submitted by the
CCCC. Coastal Resource Management
Department in 2014 has given its approval
for the said EMP.
The construction work of the Port City
project was launched on 17
th
September
2014 by the former President Mahinda
Rajapaksa and the Chinese President Xi
Jinping.
The Colombo Port City project will be
built in two phases. In the first phase, land
reclamation will be done and the second
phase involves infrastructure develop-
ment including aspects like transport in-
frastructure, utility and waste treatment
infrastructure.
The ownership of the Colombo Port City
as well as the sole authority lies with the
Sri Lankan Government and the CCCC
will carry out construction work. The
Colombo Port City is expected to attract
USD 13 billion worth of foreign direct in-
vestment from around the world and also
83,000 jobs will be created under the proj-
ect.
Environmental impact
Environmentalist, Sajeewa Chamikara,
talking to the Nation regarding the envi-
ronmental issues said, the construction of
proposed Colombo Port has resulted a lot
of issues in the environment already. He
raised his concern over the disputed EIA
report which was done by the University
of Moratuwa.
“That EIA report is not done for the
land in which the port city will be built.
Because reclamation of a vast area, which
is far more extensive, is happening at the
site,” said Chamikara.
He also pointed out the fact that the fea-
sibility studies and assessments which
are said to be done by the Moratuwa Uni-
versity cannot be relied upon since those
studies are incomplete.
Elaborating on the environmental im-
pact Chamikara said, “The project re-
quires 12-16 million cubes of granite, how-
ever, only 2 million cubes can be obtained
from sources within the country. Due to
excess mining several other implications
have arisen.” He further mentioned that
such activities are taking place in the dis-
tricts of Ratnapura, Kalutara, Gampaha
and Colombo and excessive mining is
happening in environmentally sensitive
areas.
He further mentioned that an EIA is
prepared to see whether such proposed
projects are sustainable for the country.
Without an EIA report a project cannot
commence but this particular project
started without a proper EIA and there-
fore it has being operated illegally by vio-
lating the conditions of an EIA.
Chamikara pointing out more other is-
sues related to environment surrounding
the area of the project stated, “Beaches
are being mined for sand, causing destruc-
tion of fish breeding grounds and marine
organisms living along the coast in bays,
estuaries, and shallow waters which has
direct negative impact on the fishing in-
dustry making issues worse.”
Coastal erosion is yet another impact
which the country is facing at the moment
due to excess mining of sand. “The coastal
belt from the Colombo to Panadura up to
Galle is facing this problem. Coastal ero-
sion is a problem for those who live near
coasts,” he said.
He stressed on the fact that this project
should be stopped immediately since it
will cause serious harm to the environ-
ment.
“The Colombo Port City is a serious
threat to the marine eco-system and it
will only bring destruction to the country,
therefore it should be abandoned,” Chami-
kara mentioned.
Central
Environmental
Authority
(CEA), Director General, K.H. Muthuku-
daarachchi expressing his opinion stated
that CEA has asked the SLPA to submit an
assessment regarding the project and they
have also appointed a technical committee
to further examine the EIA report which
was completed in 2011 by the University
of Moratuwa.
Environment Lawyer Jagath Gunawar-
dena stated that a comprehensive assess-
ment should be done before giving the
approval for the port city project.
“It is a mega project and therefore will
greatly impact the environment. Renew-
able and non-renewable materials used
should also be thoroughly assessed,” said
Gunawardena.
He also said that the entire coastal belt
should be assessed and not just a few ar-
eas surrounding the said project.
Current status
Minister of Ports, Shipping and Avia-
tion, Arjuna Ranatunga speaking to the
media on Friday (13) said that they will
take a final decision as to whether the gov-
ernment will give its approval to continue
the construction of the Port City or to halt
the project altogether. He mentioned that
the decision will be made after reviewing
the EIA report and other matters related
to the issue including the environmental
impact.
Minister of Plantation Industries Lak-
shman Kiriella at the Cabinet press brief-
ing held on February 12 expressed that the
construction at the Colombo Port City has
stopped. He pointed out that the construc-
tion stopped since the EIA was incomplete
and it is being reviewed.
“There were major flaws in the project
including that it did not conform to the en-
vironmental laws of the country,” he said.
However, Cabinet spokesperson, Rajitha
Senaratne had earlier reiterated that the
EIA had been completed and there is no
such issue and therefore the construction
has not stopped. The Prime Minister, Ranil
Wickremesinghe making a special state-
ment in Parliament took back Senaratne’s
statement pointing out that the informa-
tion on the project was incomplete and
some reports concerning the environment
which are needed for the project to contin-
ue are missing. He also expressed that no
final decision has been reached yet, since
it’s being reviewed by a cabinet subcom-
mittee.
It is worth noting that though some of
the responsible government officials vows
that the construction has stopped, con-
struction at the port city continued even
on 13 |(Friday).
However, an official statement regarding
the future of the project will be made in
Parliament on February 18.
Pics by Chandana Wijesinghe
Environment issues hamper
Port City Project
Vigilance
Police to make child endangerment punishable
The key to child protection
It is a mega project and therefore will greatly
impact the environment. Renewable and
non-renewable materials used should also be
thoroughly assessed
As it only takes a fewminutes for a tragedy
to occur. Rather than leaving this Herculean
task to the Police, parents at all times should
provide the protection and care the child needs
AFP
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