More than 70 tough conditions set for Port City developers
From The Sunday Times
The permit granted by the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department (CC&CRMD) to the developers of Colombo Port City is highly conditional with more than 70 environmental stipulations attached to it.
The permit provides a valuable insight into a multitude of environmental issues that will arise as a result of the project. It recommends measures to minimise and mitigate — not alleviate — these consequences. It remains to be seen whether an effective monitoring system will be put in place to ensure that all the provisos are met.
he Sunday Times obtained a copy of the 9-page permit this week. It has been issued to the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry which is the project proponent. All activities falling under the purview of the CC&CRMD and the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) are covered.
The project proponent is compelled to adhere to the permit’s terms and conditions under the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Act. The permit is deemed invalid if any of these are violated, it states.
The permit includes a large number of specific conditions related to extraction of sand; supply of quarry materials; management of solid, liquid and hazardous waste; noise and vibration; Beira Lake and drainage management; coastal engineering; archaeology; safety; and social aspects.
One of the conditions states that a mining licence should be obtained from the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) prior to the start of dredging activities. The provisional mining licence that had been granted to the developers has long since expired. A GSMB spokesman said the Bureau was yet to receive a copy of the new permit.
Several conditions are required to be met before the resumption of the project. The permit states, for instance, that a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) must be carried out with the assistance of relevant agencies. Its report must be submitted to the CC&CRMD and “all vehicle movement during the construction period should be done according to the conditions specified in the Traffic Impact Assessment prior to commencement”.
The section on coastal engineering stipulates that baseline measurements of beach profiles should be carried out covering a distance of 10 kilometres on either side of the project site, extending northwards and southwards, prior to the start of the project. This is to monitor any coastal erosion that might occur.
“Beach profile measurements should also be carried out at prescribed time intervals during the project activities and during the first year after the completion of the project,” it states. “The details/results of measurements and monitoring report should be submitted to the Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department quarterly…”
“Seabed monitoring if necessary with bathymetry survey in the vicinity of the proposed site should be carried out before, during and after construction period and relevant reports should be submitted to the CC&CMRD…” it adds. “The stability of the landfill and coastal structures in the project area should be monitored regularly, in particular after storm attacks or periods of high wave activity…”
The vast list of other stipulations states that dredging of sand for reclamation should be carried out three kilometres away from the shoreline and in depths of more than 15 metres. The dredging depth must be limited to three metres from the surface of the sea bed and a 0.5m layer of sediment should be maintained during extraction.
The route of dredgers should be selected to minimise the impacts on fishing in the area and general navigational routes. In the event of an accident to fishermen, vessels, fishing gear or equipment due to project activities, the CC&CRMD shall be informed and an Environmental Monitoring Committee will decide on the compensation to be paid by the project proponent.
“Modern dredging methods should be applied to minimise the amount of suspended sediment released to the sensitive marine environment such as reefs, hard bottom areas located in the vicinity of the dredging site as indicated in the SEIA report,” the permit states. “All precautionary measures should be taken to minimise overflow of the extracted sand and other contaminant from machinery and vessels.”
“Sand dredging activities should be avoided in the areas which are closer to the reef habitants, spawning areas, breeding areas, and more sensitive and high productive areas, sites having unique habitats or other values including habitats of threatened or endangered species,” it says.
Quarry materials for marine and coastal structures should be obtained only from approved quarry sites having valid licences issued by the GSMB and environmental protection licences issued by the CEA and local authorities. Road Development Authority (RDA) approval must be obtained by quarry owners and material suppliers for transportation of quarry materials on the road system.
The project proponent should ensure that the quarry owners have the necessary approvals and will bear responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the road network due to any direct damage caused during the transportation of quarry materials. The project proponent must also ensure that quarry material suppliers reduce or limit the speeds of vehicles to minimise dust emissions during transportation.
All precautionary measures should be taken to avoid dust generation when loading, transporting and unloading quarry material. This includes sprinkling water to wash quarry materials loaded in trucks before unloading in the stockpiling site to reduce dust emissions and adequately covering construction materials during transportation to avoid wind-induced dust and spillage.
“The locations of stockpiling sites of rock materials should be placed away from residential areas, hotels and office and other buildings and built up areas to minimise the impacts due to dust, noise, vibration and poor air quality,” the permit states. “All precautionary measures should be taken to minimise the impacts due to dust, noise, vibration and poor air quality due to stockpiling activities.
The permit states that all necessary waste management measures should be taken to avoid pollution due to the proposed project activities and that approval should be obtained from the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) for the proposed waste management plan.
“Any waste water generated due to construction activity should not be discharged to the beach, coastal and marine environment without proper treatment,” it says. “Washing of vehicles and construction associated machinery has to be undertaken only at designated areas where oil and silt traps are provided.”
There is a detailed section in the permit on coastal engineering. The project proponent is required to take all necessary mitigation measures to eliminate “any possible impact due to coastal erosion”. The project proponent is responsible for carrying out investigative and modelling studies to monitor coastal erosion. The cost of any such impact found to be directly attributable to the project and/or mitigation measures should be borne by the project proponent.