Category Archives: Dellawa Rainforest

Environmental Issues, Social Issues, Violations and False Reports related to Anda Dola Mini-Hydro Project

This post is based on a letter submitted to Minister of Environment, President Maithripala Sirisena; Chairman; Central Environmental Authority; Conservator General, Forest Conservation Department; Director General, Sustainable Energy Authority; Director General, Irrigation Department; Secretary, Ministry of Environment;  dated July 30, 2016.

Anda Dola, a tributary of Gin Ganga in Neluwa Divisional Secretariat in the district of Galle is the latest victim of rapidly spreading mini-hydro projects throughout the wet zone. The weir and 2.5 km section of penstock (concrete channel) has been constructed within Dellawa Rainforest which is ecologically part of the Sinharaja Rainforest Complex. Due to construction happening within the protected forest reserve and negligence in part by the developer, the project is causing massive environmental destruction affecting the stream, rainforest, soil and endemic fish in the region. The mini-hydro project will destroy a total 6.5 km stretch of Anda Dola, as water is being diverted off from the weir to the powerhouse several kilometers away. This will result in local extinction of many endemic and endangered fish species recorded in Anda Dola, such as the Barred Danio (Devario pathirana) and Ornate Paradisefish (Malpulutta kretseri). Herewith, we are submitting some of the Environmental and Social Issues, violations and incorrect details on the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) report of Eaza Hydro Technologies (Pvt) Ltd., for your urgent attention.

20160104_113022 - Copy

1. Incorrect details on Environmental Impact to Endemic Fauna

The IEE report has failed to include many endemic species whose habitat is the stream and surrounding forest used for the mini-hydro project. A report on this matter prepared by Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle submitted to the Central Environmental Authority points out that environmental and biodiversity information including species of fauna on pages 18, 19, 23, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 50, 51, 138-151 are incorrect.

2. Social and Economic Issues

Pages ix, 8, 20, 40, 41, 42, 43, 52, 58, 59, 60, 64, 77, 78 on the IEE report prepared by the developer states that only a few villagers are affected and that the Dellawa stream is not used by any villager for drinking, agriculture or any other purpose. The report does not state the negative effect to Anda Dola village, Dellawa village and Ihala Panangala village which are directly connected to the stream. Further, the report states all relevant stakeholders were informed and that everyone understood the project without any objections.

However, a massive protest against this mini-hydro project was held on March 28, 2016 during a field visit by relevant authorities. When District Commitee Co-President Hon. Wijepala Hettiarachchi asked the relevant Grama Niladhari officers if villagers were educated on the project and if they approve this project, GN officers confirmed in front of District Secretary that no such effort has been made.

3. Violation of Forest Ordinance

The weir (6° 20′ 32.9″N, 80° 26′ 39.7″E) and 2.5 km section of penstock are constructed within Dellawa Forest Reserve. Construction activities within a protected forest reserve is a violation of the Forest Ordinance of 1907 as amended and punishable by law.

4. Issues with Construction

According to page 57 of the IEE report, the maximum height of the weir should be 1.5m. This is one of the conditions (A.5) laid out by Forest Conservation Department on its approval letter. However, the actual height of the constructed weir is 2.8 meters. This is a blatant violation of the conditions laid out by the approving Government officers and the project developer should be held responsible for the violation.

5. Failure to monitor and identify environmental issues by approving authorities during construction

According to approval letter issued by Forest Conservation Department, B.10.5 states “A very close monitoring mechanism has to be implemented by the Forest Department to evaluate and monitor the possible negative impacts occur during the project cycle”. However, the actual ground situation has been quite contrary. Not only has the developer gravely violated the condition A.5 regarding weir height, but also violated several other conditions including B.7.4 “Measures should be taken to prevent the discharge of cement, cement mix, fuel oil, lubricants waste oil and polythene into water bodies during construction and operational periods”. During several field visits conducted by Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka, evidence of gross negligence related to discharge of cement directly to the stream was observed.

20160104_113206 - Copy (2)

Submitting false reports and carrying out construction violating conditions set forth are grave concerns, in addition to the fact that the weir and 2.5 km section of penstock are constructed illegally within a protected forest reserve.

Therefore, it is shocking to see certain politicians such as Minister Sarath Amunugama and former Minister Piyasena Gamage trying to force the project approving authorities demanding the project be given approval.

 

Issues with Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) Process

The Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) process itself is highly controversial, especially when it comes to approving mini-hydro projects. These reports are being prepared by the project proponent. Obviously the project developer cannot be trusted to highlight the environmental issues which may cause issues getting their project approved. Further, the IEE process does not allow for public comments unlike the EIA process. Therefore, an environmental disaster is only evident when the project is started.

Public have lost hope on protecting the environment for future generations due to destructive projects such as Anda Dola mini-hydro project being given approval regardless of their opposition. They are voiceless against the rampant bribery and corruption within project approving authorities. The voice of the environmentalists and citizens have been further subdued using thuggery demonstrated by former Minister Piyasena Gamage during the recently held meeting at Dellawa Temple on July 12 to discuss the issues related to this project, during which a journalist had to be hospitalized and one of our volunteer members suffering injuries.

Therefore, we request you to immediately take action against those responsible for the violations below.

1. Producing incorrect details on IEE report.

2. Violation of forest ordinance.

3. Violation of height of weir constructed.

4. Violation of cement discharge to the stream.

5. Lack of transparency and opportunity for public comments on IEE process of mini-hydro projects.

6. Failure to conduct a proper and unbiased Environmental Impact Assessments through qualified and unbiased scientific and technical committee.

7. Use of violence against Media and Environmentalists during public discussion meeting held in Dellawa.

8. External political pressure to approve projects regardless of environmental and social impact.

20160104_112620

20160104_122023

20160104_123850

20160104_113017 - Copy - Copy (2)

The Environmental and Social issues of Anda Dola mini-hydro project far outweigh the paltry 0.7 MW energy produced, which can only be achieved during rain season based on rainfall patterns. The 0.7 MW roughly translates to just 0.02% of the current total power generated by the national grid. Therefore, considering the environmental and social issues as well as violations by the project developer, we request you to immediately halt the project, revoke the approvals based on violations, and restore the affected habitat back to its pristine condition as soon as possible.

Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka

http://www.RainforestProtectors.org

Environmental Impact due to Destruction of Rainforests for Mini-Hydro Projects

Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka – February 11, 2016

Rainforests in Sri Lanka play a major role in regulating climatic conditions of the island nation, removing harmful greenhouse gases and ensuring adequate rain that feed the streams, rivers and over 400 recorded waterfalls. According to climate scientists “Tropical forests, particularly the undisturbed moist and rain forests, play an important role as carbon sinks in the global carbon cycle. These forests store about 46% of the world’s living terrestrial carbon pool and about 11.55% of the world’s soil carbon pool.”1 Therefore, any response to climate change must recognize the role of rainforests in mitigating emissions.
Rainforests are also among the most readily available and cost-effective tools for adapting to a changing climate as they provide critical ecosystem services, such climate-resilient food sources and buffering of severe weather impacts.

Despite the leaders of Sri Lanka pledging to reduce deforestation during the climate summit, rainforests in Sri Lanka continue to be destroyed at an alarming rate. The newest threat coming in the form of hundreds of mini-hydro projects currently in construction with government approval within protected reserves and environmentally sensitive highly biodiverse catchment areas. Each mini-hydro project constructed within protected rainforests destroy hundreds of mature canopy trees such as Hora (Dipterocarpus Zeylanicus) to give way for penstock (concrete channel) from weir to the powerhouse that stretch for several kilometers. Further clearings take place at the site of the powerhouse, forebay, buildings constructed as labor quarters and roads built as access paths. The loss of forest watersheds and overall disruption of the hydrological flow which regulate the forests and its functions can exacerbate the current climate situation. This could further increase the frequency and intensity of natural hazards in the near future. Details of some of these projects and their environmental impact are given below.

1. Koskulana Mini-Hydro Project along the border and buffer zone of Sinharaja UNESCO World Heritage Rainforest

Koskulana river forms the northern boundary of Sinharaja World Heritage Rainforest. This 0.6 MW mini-hydro project approved by Central Environmental Authority and Forest Conservation Department directly affects 0.5 km stretch of Koskulana river which will run dry due to the weir and intake of water for the project. Many fish species which live in the river such as Long Finned Eel, Giant Danio, Carveri Rasbora, Stone Sucker and Mahseer may go locally extinct due to this project. Further, the penstock, powerhouse, workers quarters, bungalow and access road has been built within the buffer zone per 2013 UNESCO Sinharaja WHS map. During construction, many giant endemic and endangered rainforest trees such as Hora (Dipterocarpus Zeylanicus) have been cut down within the buffer zone.

image-1989fb2436f83792062094eddde481f171268df4a23930e834897e696d3ef716-V

image-6743b6e6467366c3f87ebe8156cbd9d1baf42f152dbb4fe6c5af9dbd2a29fbdf-V

 

2. Anda Dola Mini-Hydro Project within Dellawa Protected Rainforest

Anda Dola is a tributary of Gin river, one of the major rivers in southern Sri Lanka. This 0.7 MW mini-hydro project consists of a weir constructed at Anda Dola within Dellawa rainforest which is ecologically part of Sinharaja Rainforest Complex. Additionally, 2.5 km section of the penstock (concrete channel) has been constructed within the protected rainforest reserve. Similar to Koskulana mini-hydro project, this has also been approved by Central Environmental Authority and Forest Conservation Department violating the National Environmental Act and Forest Ordinance. Many mature endemic and endangered trees such as Hora (Dipterocarpus Zeylanicus), Thiniya Dun (Shorea trapezifolia) and Yakahalu (Shorea dyeri) have been cut down during construction at the weir and along penstock to the powerhouse. Many of these endemic trees in the region are listed in the IUCN red-list of endangered species and in danger of going extinct. The mini-hydro project will destroy a total 6.5 km stretch of Anda Dola stream, due to the diversion of water. This will result in local extinction of many endemic and endangered fish species such as the Barred Danio (Devario pathirana) and Ornate Paradisefish (Malpulutta kretseri) which has
been recorded in Anda Dola.

20160104_122023

20160104_124921

 

3. Seven Falls Mini-Hydro Project in UNESCO World Heritage Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

Seven Falls “Eli Hatha” is a picturesque collection of 7 waterfalls within “Sri Pada” Peak Wilderness Sanctuary that is part of UNESCO World Heritage Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. This beautiful rainforest has the richest in biodiversity with the highest number of endemic species in the county. Construction of the weir, four-bay tank, powerhouse and the water transfer tunnels has caused severe damage to this nature reserve and Seven Falls “Eli-hatha” waterfall. The weir has been constructed at the foot of the third waterfall and once the waterway is diverted towards the four-bay tank through the water transfer tunnels, the four remaining waterfalls effectively go dry causing irreparable damage to the ecosystem. In addition, large amount of endemic and endangered trees have being removed to enable the cranes to lift the concrete tunnels from the downhill towards the weir.

SripadaDestruction6

SripadaDestruction2.jpg

Above is just a fraction of the mini-hydro projects currently causing massive environmental destruction in Sri Lanka. More than 100 such mini-hydro projects have been approved and currently in construction phase across the wet-zone rainforest habitat. Therefore, the collective ecological damage arising from the 100+ mini-hydro projects is unimaginable and neither the approving government authorities nor the non-profit environmental organizations in Sri Lanka have resources to monitor the total environmental destruction.

With the continued destruction of rainforests and diminishing groundwater reserves, many of these streams and waterfalls are in danger of completely drying up even during a short dry season which will further reduce the practical capacity of these projects. It is puzzling why Sustainable Energy Authority and Ministry of Power and Energy in Sri Lanka are continuing to push destructive mini-hydro projects within protected rainforest reserves, instead of promoting environmentally friendly and drought tolerant alternatives such as rooftop solar, waste to energy and offshore wind. Ironically, these environmentally destructive mini-hydro projects are carried out using the term “Sustainable Energy” with the backing of Government with assistance from UN, ADB and World Bank. Therefore, we urge you to take immediate corrective action to stop further environmental destruction due to these mini-hydro projects and ensure the national policy on renewable energy focuses on technologies that do not cause ecological destruction to our vital catchment areas and climate resilient rainforests.

Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka

http://www.RainforestProtectors.org

Massive Environmental Destruction due to Anda Dola Mini-Hydro Project

Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka – February 10, 2016

Anda Dola, a tributary of Gin Ganga in Neluwa Divisional Secretariat in the district of Galle is the latest victim of rapidly spreading mini-hydro projects throughout the wet zone destroying the natural habitat. The weir and 2.5 km section of penstock (concrete channel) has been constructed within Dellawa Rainforest which is ecologically part of the Sinharaja Rainforest Complex. Due to construction happening within the protected forest reserve and negligence in part by the developer, the project is causing massive environmental destruction affecting the stream, rainforest, soil and endemic fish in the region. The mini-hydro project will destroy a total 6.5 km stretch of Anda Dola, as water is being diverted off from the weir to the powerhouse several kilometers away. This will result in local extinction of many endemic and endangered fish species recorded in Anda Dola, such as the Barred Danio (Devario pathirana) and Ornate Paradisefish (Malpulutta kretseri).

20160104_113022 - Copy.jpg

Many mature endemic and endangered trees such as Hora (Dipterocarpus Zeylanicus), Thiniya Dun (Shorea trapezifolia) and Yakahalu (Shorea dyeri) have been cut down during construction at the weir and along penstock to the powerhouse within protected forest reserve. Many of these endemic trees in the region are listed in the IUCN red-list of endangered species and in danger of going extinct. The project site has already experienced severe soil erosion and earth slips due to removal of these large rainforest trees. Further, a massive trench dug through a hill has jeopardized the stability of the soil mass which may soon result in a severe landslide.

20160104_112521 - Copy

While the project developer has submitted an Initial Environmental Assessment (IEE) report to the authorities, an unbiased Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with a public comment period has not been carried out although construction is taking place within a protected forest reserve. Therefore, approval given to this project by Forest Conservation Department is questionable.

The project is expected to generate a mere 0.77 MW energy but at an enormous cost to the biodiversity of the sensitive rainforest habitat and possible extinction of many freshwater endemic and endangered fauna. With the continued destruction of the rainforest and diminishing groundwater reserves, “Anda Dola” is in danger of completely drying up even during a short dry season which will further reduce the practical capacity of this project. It is puzzling why Sustainable Energy Authority and Ministry of Power and Energy are continuing to push destructive mini-hydro projects within protected rainforest reserves, instead of promoting environmentally friendly and drought tolerant alternatives such as rooftop solar, waste to energy and offshore wind. Relevant authorities are urged to take immediate corrective action to stop further destruction due to this project and ensure the national policy on renewable energy focuses on technologies that do not cause ecological destruction to our vital catchment areas.

20160104_122023

20160104_123850.jpg

20160104_124921

Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka

http://www.RainforestProtectors.org

ආඳා දොල කුඩා ජල විදුලි බලාගාරයක් ඉදිකිරීම හේතුවෙන් මහා පරිසර විනාශයක්

වැසි වනාන්තර සුරකින්නෝ – පෙබරවාරි 9, 2016

නෙළුව ප්‍රාදේශිය ලේකම් කොට්ඨාශයට අයත් ගිං ගඟෙහි අතු ගංගාවක් වන ආඳා දොල පෞද්ගලික කුඩා ජල විදුලි බලාගාර ඉදිකිරීම් ව්‍යාපෘතියේ නවතම ගොදුර බවට පත්වී තිබේ. මෙහි හරස් බැම්ම (weir) හා කොන්ක්‍රීට් අනුමඟෙහි (penstock) කිලෝමීටර 2.5 ක විශාල කොටසක් පාරිසරකව සිංහරාජ වනාන්තර සංකීර්ණයට අයත් දෙල්ලව වැසිවනාන්තරය තුල ඉදිකෙරෙමින් පවතී. රක්ෂිත වැසිවනාන්තරයක් තුල පරිසර නීතිරීති උල්ලංඝනය කරමින් සිදුවන මෙම ව්‍යාපෘතිය නිසා ප්‍රදේශයේ පරිසරයට බලවත් හානියක් සිදුවී ඇත. මෙම බැම්ම නිසා ආඳා දොලෙහි කිලෝමිටර් 6.5 ක දිගැති ප්‍රමාණයක් සම්පූර්ණයෙන් සිඳී යාමට නියමිත අතර මෙහි ප්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස ආඳා දොලෙහි වෙසෙන ශ්‍රීලංකාවට ආවේනික පතිරණ සාලයා (Devario pathirana) හා මල්පුලුට්ටා (Malpulutta kretseri) වැනි ඉතා දුර්ලභ මත්ස්‍ය විශේෂයන් ප්‍රදේශයෙන් සදහටම වඳවී යාමේ තර්ජනයට මුහුණ පා ඇත.

20160104_113022 - Copy.jpg

මෙහි ඉදිකිරීම කටයුතුවලදී රක්ෂිත ප්‍රදේශයේ ශ්‍රීලංකාවට ආවේනික ඉතා දුර්ලභ හොර (Dipterocarpus zeylanicus), තිනිය දුන් (Shorea trapezifolia), යකහලු (Shorea dyeri) වැනි වටිනා දැවැන්ත වැසිවනාන්තර ශාඛ රැසක් කපා ඉවත් කර ඇත. IUCN රතු දත්ත පොතට අනුව මෙම ශ්‍රීලංකාවට ආවේනික දුර්ලභ ශාඛ ලෝකයෙන් තුරන් වීමට බොහෝ සෙයින් ඉඩ තිබේ. දැවැන්ත ශාඛ කපා ඉවත් කිරීම හා කැණීම් කටයුතු නිසා මෙම ඉදිකිරීම් කෙරෙන ප්‍රදේශයේ පාංශු ඛාදනය හා න්‍යාය‍යෑම් දැනටමත් සිදුවී ඇති බව පැහැදිලිය. මීට අමතරව ජලය ගෙන යාම සඳහා ප්‍රදේශයේ කන්දක් හරහා ගැඹුරු කාණුවක් ලෙස පස් කපා ඉවත් කිරීම හේතුවෙන් කන්දේ අස්ථාවර තත්වයක් ඇතිවී ඇති අතර නොබෝ දිනකින් විශාල න්‍යායයාමක් සිදුවීමට ඉඩ තිබේ.

20160104_112521 - Copy

මෙම ව්‍යාපෘතිය මගින් උත්පාදනය කිරීමට නියමිත විදුලිය මෙගාවොට් 0.77 ක් පමණ සුළු ප්‍රමාණයක් වන නමුත් ඉන් සදාකාලිකව පරිසරයට වන හානිය මිල කල නොහැකිය. මින් රක්ෂිත වැසිවනාන්තරය හා භූගත ජල පද්ධතියට වන හානිය නිසා ඉතා කෙටි වියලි කාලයකදි වුවත් ආඳා දොල සම්පුර්ණයෙන් හිඳී යාමට හැකි බව ප්‍රදේශ වාසීන්ගේ මතයයි. එවැනි තත්වයකදී ආඳා දොලෙහි ජලය මත යැපෙන ප්‍රදේශවාසීන්ට ඉතා අසීරු ගැටළු රැසකට මුහුණ පෑමට සිදුවන අතර විදුලිය උත්පාදනයද අත්හිටුවීමට සිදුවනු ඇත. රක්ෂිත වැසිවනාන්තර විනාශ කර පෞද්ගලික කුඩා ජල විදුලි බලාගාර ඉදිකිරීමට ශ්‍රීලංකා සුනිත්‍ය බලශක්ති අධිකාරිය, විදුලිබල හා බලශක්ති අමාත්‍යාංශය හා මධ්‍යම පරිසර අධිකාරිය එකතුව අනුබල දීම ගැටලු සහගතය. සූර්ය, කසළ හා සුළං යන මූලාශ්‍රයන් මගින් පරිසර හිතකාමීව බලශක්තිය නිපදවීම සඳහා අවධානය යොමුකර ශ්‍රීලංකාවේ තෙත් කලාපයේ දිය ඇලි, ගංගා, දොල හා වැසිවනාන්තර විනාශ කරමින් සිදු කෙරෙන මෙවැනි කුඩා ජල විදුලි ව්‍යාපෘති වගකිව යුතු බලධාරීන් විසින් වහා අත්හිටවිය යුතුය.

20160104_122023

20160104_123850.jpg

20160104_124921

වැසි වනාන්තර සුරකින්නෝ

http://www.RainforestProtectors.org