01/07/2011, 00.00
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Sri Lanka government ready to move seaplanes from Negombo Lagoon

by Melani Manel Perera
After months of protests, parliament seeks an alternative venue in which to develop the Sea Plane tourist project. There has been no official statement however, and the fishermen say they are worried: "We will not allow the project here in our lagoon.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The Sri Lankan government has decided to move the disputed Sea Plane project from the Negombo lagoon. However there is still no official confirmation from parliament, which met on January 5. Nimal Vianney, a leader of the fishermen and the seventh member of the Managing Committee of the Negombo lagoon, told AsiaNews: "I talked on the phone with Nimal Lansa, minister of the Western Provincial Council and former Mayor of Negombo. She reported that the minister of economic development Basil Rajapaksa has ordered to find a suitable place for the Sea Plane project taking into account the needs of fishermen. "This plan includes the introduction of seaplanes to promote tourism in areas difficult to reach.

Minister Lansa said: "The government has no intention to withdraw the Seaplane project, as part of the Mahinda Chinthanaya program for the development of the country. Once an alternative is found, we will launch the project. " On 29 December Lansa presided at a meeting in the Jubilee Hall in Negombo, during which he announced the government's willingness to fishermen. The meeting was also attended by the priests of the parishes of Grand Street and Pitipana.
But the fishermen are not fully convinced. Herman Kumara, general secretary of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (nafs) and the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP), said: "The government must be clear and give an official announcement that states that the project will not be put into practice." And some fishermen insist: "We will not let the Sea Plane project here in our lagoon”.  


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See also
Sri Lanka: environmentalists against Negombo lagoon tourism project
Some 8,000 fisher people hold sit-in against government tourist project
Card Ranjith defends fishermen against mega tourist projects
Fishermen appeal to Card. Ranjith: stop government project
White House to stop Beijing's "imperialist" policy in the South China Sea
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