Mar 25, 2019

No environmental certificate for the PM’s gift

The foundation stone was laid for the oil refinery and a cement factory at the Mirijjawila Export Processing Zone, last morning (24), but the National Movement for the Protection of Consumer Rights claims that this project has not received the environmental certificate.

They claim that several years ago the Indian company Accor Group and Silver Park International (Pvt) Ltd. together with a company which has connections with Minister Rishad Bathiudeen Lanka Oil Refinery Ltd had presented a proposal for the construction of the oil refinery. However, the government had rejected the proposal on the grounds that Lanka Oil Refinery Ltd had no prior experience.

Later, the proposal for the construction of the oil refinery and a cement factory at the Mirijjawila Export Processing Zone was presented by Singaporean company Silver Park International (Pvt) Ltd and Oman Oil and Gas Company.

The general practice is that when such a proposal is accepted, immediately an environmental assessment report is called for. Or a technical committee is appointed.

However, the National Movement for the Protection of Consumer Rights points out that acting arbitrarily, an official of the Lanka Dockyard on the directives of Minister Malik Samarawickrama had accepted the proposal and had signed the agreement without calling for the environmental certificate.

In such a mega project an environmental assessment report is vital and the environmental assessment report done on the entire investment zone alone is inadequate, pointed out the National Movement for the Protection of Consumer Rights. They charge that however, even this environmental report has not been approved by the Hambantota Urban Council.

In a statement, the National Movement for the Protection of Consumer Rights said, “By this project the Tangalle, Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa coastal tourist belt faces the chance of being destroyed. At the time of the Colombo Port City Planning project, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that since the project did not have the environmental assessment report, the project would be abandoned. However, under the Maithripala Sirisena government, the project was initiated without this environmental report.”

MP Nalin Bandara had said that a cement factory was being constructed in Mirijjawela. It is not a cement factory but a concrete terminal. It was Malik Samarawickrama who had intervened in obtaining approval under Sri Lanka Investment Board Act. The National Movement for the Protection of Consumer Rights charged that this company is set to receive massive tax concessions and as such the local concrete companies will have to close down.

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