The archbishop of Colombo is against the government project because its social and environmental impact have not been evaluated. Because of COVID-19, residents have not been given enough time to evaluate the initiative.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – During a press conference held yesterday, Card Malcolm Ranjith criticised a government project to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power plant in a lagoon area 30 km from the capital.
“Why are you trying to fill 100 acres of this buffer zone reserved for the protection of the area?” said the prelate.
“The Muthurajawela Wetland Zone has preserved lives and the natural beauty of the area, but many projects have ruined that”. For this reason, “I and the entire Catholic community strongly oppose the development that is being prepared for this wetland region.”
In a letter to the Central Environmental Authority, the archbishop of Colombo writes: “There has been no study conducted with regard” to the social and environmental “impact of extracting sea sand from the Thamba Gala in order to will almost 120 acres of land” in Muthurajawela, where the LNG power plant is set to be built.
For the cardinal, the risk of flooding in the residential area where the core of his community lives has not even been assessed. He also noted he has been involved in the struggle for the environment for several months, but his requests have gone unheeded.
In his view, the government should keep in mind that the country does not belong to the president or to the ministers, but to its citizens, who have not “given them the power to carry out projects arbitrarily without the consent of the people.”
Activists fighting to protect the Muthurajawela wetland said that people were given 30 days to express themselves on the project proposed by the government; however, this is actually impossible to do because of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.
“This is a deliberate move by the government to get what they want,” said one activist.