BASL to intervene into Uma Oya FR petition

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday sought the Supreme Court’s permission into the Fundamental Rights petition filed by Centre for Environmental Justice and four residents of the Bandarawela area who have been victimised as a result of the Uma Oya multipurpose Project.

This request is to be considered on September 29 by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the petitioners yesterday requested the authorities not to goahead with the Uma Oya project without a new Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

On a previous occasion, the Attorney General had informed the Supreme Court that two remaining drinking water projects out of four targeting the people affected by Uma Oya multi-purpose project are to be completed soon.

The Supreme Court was further informed by the Attorney General that the Provincial Director of Agricultural in the Uva Province has taken the necessary steps to grant compensation for the farmers whose crops were destroyed by Uma Oya multipurpose project. On a previous occasion, the Supreme Court had ordered the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment to complete its drinking water projects by early this year.

The Attorney General had earlier submitted in Court, a copy of Cabinet memorandum issued regarding the Uma Oya project. The cabinet memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment had identified the main socio-economic problems in the areas affected by the Uma Oya project.

The Cabinet memorandum stated; the ingress of water into the head face tunnel which occurred on December 4, 2014 resulted in some socio-economic problems including drying up of wells, developing cracks in houses, damaging crops around the areas of water ingress into tunnel located in the District Secretariat areas of Bandarawela and Ella.

The petitioners claim that as a result of the Uma Oya project, not only have their homes and crops been destroyed, but they have lost access to clean drinking water, citing this as a violation of their fundamental rights.

Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment N. Rupasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Irrigation and Agriculture, the Central Environment Authority and the Attorney General have been named as respondents in the petition. Counsel Ravindranath Dabare with Sugath Atapattu appeared for the petitioners.

Deputy Solicitor General Palinda Ranasinghe appeared for the Attorney General. 

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