The Environmental Foundation Ltd (EFL) is requesting the government to immediately make available to the public all relevant documents pertaining to the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP). It seeks to know whether the government actually approved the project and indicated its acceptance to the proponent.
They also want the government to make available to the public certified copies of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on which the Indian authorities claims to have granted approval for the project and the detailed project report, the modelling report and other relevant technical data on which this project had been approved by the Indian Authorities.
In a statement released yesterday the EFL said, `Environmental Foundation Ltd requests the Sri Lankan Government to immediately make available to the public all relevant documents pertaining to the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP). The request has been made along with their new Briefing Paper, `The Sethusamudram Ship Canal: troubled waters ahead for Sri Lanka'` released to the media today.
EFL states that the Government needs to release the Environmental Impact Assessment -EIA, modelling report of the project, a detailed project report and all other technical data on which the SSCP has been accorded clearance by the Indian Authorities. As the first local environmental organisation to go public with the news of the proposed project last year, EFL reiterates its position that the Government of Sri Lanka needs to be made a stakeholder in the SSCP as the project poses serious environmental and socio-economic threats to Sri Lanka.
EFL feels that the Governments of Sri Lanka and India have not come to an understating on how to address the serious environmental threats of the SSCP despite two Technical Level Discussions between them. While understanding the need to hold discussions to arrive at a satisfactory resolution of the problem, EFL points out that transparency regarding the project can only be achieved if the relevant data are released to the public domain.
As long as the SSCP remains shrouded in secrecy, without giving heed to the public`s right to information, the project will fuel mistrust in the Government. This serious lack of transparency in decision-making, on both sides of the channel, leads us to question the real motives and interests behind this project. We cannot but question whether, yet again, the public has been deliberately kept in the dark and misled.
EFL calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to:
State whether unknown to the public it actually approved this project and indicated acceptance of it to the proponent.
Immediately make available to the public, a certified copy of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on which the Indian authorities claims to have granted approval for the project
Make available to the public certified copies of the detailed project report, the modelling report and any other relevant technical data on which this project has been approved by the Indian Authorities,
Request an independent review of the EIA by a scientifically credible organisation which has the required capacity to do so, and has a proven track record in marine conservation,
request the Indian Government to refrain from proceeding with the project until the EIA is reviewed and the findings made available to the citizens of both countries.