Can’t justify giving 15,000 acres in H’tota to Chinese – MR

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By 2017-01-11

The disruption caused to the lives of people in the area will be immense if 15,000 acres of land were to be acquired for an economic zone former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

In a press communiqué released yesterday he noted that the government has decided to lease...... a further 15,000 acres outside the free port to a foreign company for 99 years.

"In a situation where even the 2,000 hectares within the free port have not been utilized yet, on what grounds can we justify the leasing of another 15,000 acres to a foreign company?," he said.

The total land area of all the Board of Investment economic zones in the country at present does not amount to 2,000 hectares he said adding that a 15,000-acre zone in Hambantota will be disproportionate to this country's economy.

He went on to state that government should fill the free port with investments first before opening more zones. Furthermore, the government should have supervision over the kind of factories that will be opened in these industrial zones, the fuel they use and the waste they produce, he said.

"My government agreed only to the use of LNG gas, even though some potential investors wanted to use coal. This is not an issue that can be resolved by baton-charging or tear gassing protestors or having them assaulted by thugs and remanded. There are real issues relating to the financial benefits that will accrue to the country from this deal, and issues of control and sovereignty over the free port and possible environmental issues that need to be addressed," he said.

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