Colombo Port City won’t cause environmental disruption, says EIA

Colombo Port City

Dec 15, 2015 (LBO) – The proposed Colombo Port City has a minimal environmental impact on the reclamation site and the coastal zone around the area, a supplementary environmental impact assessment, now available for public consultation, states.

Because of the impact of sand dredging north of the port city site, an income support program will be implemented for communities engaged in fishing, the report adds.

The report can be downloaded here.

“Due to the construction of the Colombo South Harbour, the incremental environmental impacts from the construction of Colombo Port City is minimal/negligible at the reclamation site and the coastal zone to the North and South of the site,” the report states.

Studies conclude that the Port City will also not cause coastal erosion.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said recently that the government is satisfied with the EIA, according to a media report. The EIA is now available for public consultation.

“We have given all the necessary clearances. Now it is up to the investors to sort out the minor details,” Karunanayake, told the South China Morning Post newspaper.

The 1.4 billion US dollar Port City is to be constructed between the Southern edge of the new Colombo South Port and the Fort Lighthouse.The total area of land available under the project will be 269 hectares.

Developed over a 25-year period, the Port City will have three stages with 7 hectares released for development per year.

According to the plan, 63 hectares of marketable land and 96 hectares of common land will be for the government, equivalent to 59 percent of the total, or 159 hectares.

The project company will receive 41 percent of the reclaimed land for marketing to developers, equal to 110 hectares.

The plan envisages significant economic benefits to the island with foreign direct investment being the biggest approved by the BOI for a single project.

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In terms of environmental impacts, sand extraction would occur at depths of 15m or more, thereby having no impact on coastal erosion, the report states.

“The Kelani River is believed to contribute some 100,000 to 200,000 m3/year to the sediment budget of the area. Historically this is believed to have been much higher, perhaps 400,000 m3/year, but has declined due to sand mining and development upstream,” the report said.

“As a consequence there has been ongoing erosion to the coast to the north of the Kelani. Therefore, since Port City is in the shadow of the Colombo South Port breakwater, it has no impact on coastal erosion north of Colombo Port.”

A total of 11 different quarry sites with required approvals located in Kaduwela, Hanwella, Padukka, Delgoda and Divulpitiya area have been surveyed for obtaining quarry material for construction of necessary structures to protect the reclamation, it said.

The 11 quarry sites represent around 7-9 percent of the total registered quarries in the Colombo and Gampaha districts.

The impact of this project on the national quarry material requirement would be negligible to the construction industry, the report states.

Sand dredging is expected to cause “local and temporary impacts on the biological environment due to the removal of benthic fauna and increasing turbidity as a result of an increase in suspended particles in water columns.”

Due to this, 500 million rupees would be allocation to the Ministry of Fisheries for income support and benefits program for communities engaged in fishing, with supplementary funds allocated as needed.

This would be to uplift the socio-economic conditions and any loss of fishing grounds of fishermen impacted by the sand extraction, the report states.

In terms of impact on stock of fish, “there will be no reduction in fishing grounds in the reclamation area, since this is not an ideal habitat for fish breeding due to already silted conditions.”

Several international consultants together with local specialists will advise on the project.

This includes Atkins of UK for master plan review, Aecom for utility design, road design and landscaping, Jones Lang La Salle and CB Richard Ellis for financial and marketing pre-feasibility, and CDR International of the Netherlands for technical review of designs of the contractor.

The land will be available for various purposes such as commercial, residential, health and educational developments but not for industrial activities.

The Port City will have around 45 ha of public parks, 9 times the size of Galle Face Green, anchored by a 22 ha central park.There will also be a beach with a lagoon suitable for swimming and water recreational activities.

The port city project, under a Chinese developer, stalled after the new administration questioned project approvals by the last regime.

The investor, China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC), is a public listed company in Hong Kong and a Fortune 500 construction and real estate company. The company has assets of over 100 billion dollars.

Total FDI in the reclamation stage of the Port City is envisaged at 1400 million dollars, the largest FDI approved by the BOI to date. The financial investment in the project requires no government guarantees.

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