By: Corinne Laporte
The construction of Port City by the Western coast of Sri Lanka has been raising a number of issues since the release of its first plan. The fishing community is rallying in different protests to show their anger at the government and expressed concerns the dredging will affect the livelihoods of the fisherfolks and the sustainability of the shore’s ecosystem.
Port City is part of the Megapolis development project, and aims at creating an artificial island by the Galle Face, on the western coast of Sri Lanka. According to the plan, Port City would be composed of an international island, a living island, a central park living, a financial district, and a marina. Port City is described as “the most livable city in South Asia” “built on sustainable values [and] a healthy environment”.
Far from becoming a haven for environmentally friendly folks, as it pretends to be, the project threatens the ecosystem of not only the Negombo Lagoon but the entire coastal area between Kerawalapitiya and Negombo, and thus threatens to break the balance between the sea and the lagoon, which would result in a mix of salt water and fresh water. Environment experts even say the consequences of this destruction would be ten times worse than the ones of Uma Oya.
The construction of port city allows the Chinese company in charge to mine sand from some of the coastal areas, including the Negombo – Basiyawatta area. This mining risks not only killing the ecosystem necessary for prongs and coral reefs but also causes rapid erosion, which comes to destroy the homes in its proximity.
The erosion of the coast is worsened by the fact that the mining company goes beyond its allowed territory. A year ago, the fishermen communities were told the mining would only be permitted as far as 10 kilometres from the shore. However, recently taken photos show that the company is now three kilometres away from the coast, damaging the environment as well as the livelihoods of fishermen. While no official information confirms this change in distance, it is clear the mining has moved closer to the shore.
The People’s Movement Against Port City (PMAPC) has since submitted a complaint to the Coast Conservation Department, whom then called for a detailed report by the Megapolis Ministry, in charge of all urban expansion.
In order to represent the fishing communities, NAFSO is now planning a 5-day long awareness campaign during which members will go door to door, anchorage point to anchorage point in the affected villages to gather signatures for a people’ Memorandum as well as educate the villagers on the consequences the construction of Port City will have on their livelihoods.
This first round of the campaign will start on October 31st and end on November 5th, 2017. NAFSO encourages people to sign its petition next week and to engage in the movement against Port City as much as they can.