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Sri Lanka

National Environmental Act (NEA) Amendments (LK0007)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sri Lanka National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment (MMDE)

Support Institution(s): Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department (CCCRMD), the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) and the North Western Province Environmental Authority (NWPEA); (Sri Lanka and Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) and other interested NGOs and CSOs.

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Environment and Climate, Extractive Industries, Infrastructure & Transport, Land & Spatial Planning, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sri Lanka Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes were introduced to the National Environmental Act (NEA) by an amendment in 1988 and was implemented since 1993 after the gazetting of the relevant regulations. Both these processes had public participation provisions until an amendment to the NEA in 2000 took away the public’s right to comment on IEEs. Until this amendment public comments were called through a notice published in the government gazette and a newspaper in all three languages. As it stands today the public have the right to comment only on EIA reports which is notified through the newspaper only, while IEEs are merely public documents for the purposes of the Evidence Ordinance and are only open for inspection by the public. The decision to approve through both IEEs and EIAs is notified through the newspaper. Without notice to public on the availability of IEEs (as in EIAs), it is most unlikely that the public will get to know of projects that are approved through IEEs. This is unsatisfactory and discriminatory, especially in respect of projects where the affected public may be residing far away from the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Registry where such reports are likely to be kept. In addition, since there are no guidelines in the NEA for determining whether a project needs an IEE or an EIA the removal of the public notice and participation provisions in respect of IEE Reports may encourage Project Approving Agencies and developers to opt for the latter in preference to an EIA irrespective of the actual environmental impacts. A civil society provided example is the approval of a mini hydropower project in the Koskulana River bordering the Sinharaja World Heritage Site through an IEE. Public became aware of the project through the media only after the same was approved and damaged caused to the Sinharaja World Heritage Site. In addition to the aforesaid laws the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No.2 of 1937 as amended (FFPO) and the North Western Province Environmental Statute No.12 of 1990 as amended (NWPES) also provide for the IEE/EIA process. However, unlike the NEA and CCCRMA, the FFPO and the NWPES require that IEEs are open for public comments. It needs to be stressed that where public law allows comments on IEEs/EIAs, the decision making agencies need to be accountable for the public comments received. In order to ensure the same, the decision-making agency must list the comments received on IEEs and EIAs and indicate whether the comments were addressed or not when arriving at the project approval decision. Therefore, it is proposed that: (a) Relevant amendments are made to (i) the NEA and its regulations; and (ii) the CCCRMA, the CCCRMP and regulations to restore/include the public’s right to study and comment on IEE Reports before projects are approved; and (b) Relevant amendments are made to (i) the NEA and its regulations; (ii) the CCCRMA, the CCCRMP and regulations (iii) the FFPO and its regulations and (iv) the NWPES and its regulations to include provisions ensuring government accountability on public comments on IEEs and EIAs. Issues to be Addressed: Lack of provisions in the NEA and CCCRMA to include public participation in the IEE process. Lack of government accountability on public comments received on IEEs and EIAs Main Objective: Ensuring public participation/transparency in environmental decision making and government accountability on public comments on IEEs and EIAs National Environmental Act (NEA) Amendments

1. One or two meetings/discussions with the MMDE and CEA to advocate the need for the relevant amendments to the NEA and its regulations. New July 2016 Sep 2016
2. Drafting amendments to the NEA and its regulations to restore provisions on public participation in the IEE process and to ensure government accountability on public comments received on IEEs and EIAs.
PILF can assist the MMDE and CEA in this endeavour. New Sep 2016 Nov 2016
3. Amendments to NEA and regulations with aforesaid provisions passed by Parliament New Nov 2016 Oct 2017
4. Enforcement of the amendments to NEA and regulations by the CEA New Nov 2017
5. CEA to facilitate the enforcement of the aforesaid amendments to NEA and regulations by strengthening its EIA unit and provincial branches with adequate staff, necessary budgetary allocations and other required facilities New July 2017 July 2018
6. Approx. 03 workshops to creating awareness amongst respective government agencies and public officers on:-
a) the requirement of opening up IEEs for public comments as per the amendment to the NEA and regulations; and
b) the government accountability provisions.
New Jan 2018 July 2018
7. (A) Approx. 04 programmes each on State owned television and radio to create awareness amongst the civil society on:
i) the reintroduction of public participation provisions on IEEs as per amendments to the NEA and regulations and how to make effective and responsible comments on the same; and
ii) government accountability provisions.
(B) Dissemination of aforesaid information through the websites of the MMDE and CEA New Jan 2018 July 2018

IRM Midterm Status Summary

For commitment details, see the full report: English | Sinhala | Tamil

Sri Lanka's Commitments

  1. Integrity officers to decrease bribery and corruption

    LK0024, 2019, Capacity Building

  2. Asset declaration system

    LK0025, 2019, Asset Disclosure

  3. Increase use of RTI

    LK0026, 2019, E-Government

  4. citizen participation in health

    LK0027, 2019, E-Government

  5. Campaign against youth drug use

    LK0028, 2019, Education

  6. open data

    LK0029, 2019, E-Government

  7. Agriculture support policy

    LK0030, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Participation for persons with disabilities

    LK0031, 2019, Land & Spatial Planning

  9. Disability rights bill

    LK0032, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  10. Disaster management planning

    LK0033, 2019, Capacity Building

  11. nationak environmental policy

    LK0034, 2019, Environment and Climate

  12. CEDAW implementation

    LK0035, 2019, Capacity Building

  13. local service delivery

    LK0036, 2019, E-Government

  14. feedback on public bus

    LK0037, 2019, E-Government

  15. implementing UN convention on the rights of the child in a participatory manner

    LK0038, 2019, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Improving public access to preventive and curative strategies to combat Chronic Kidney Disease

    LK0001, 2016, Health

  17. Transparent Policy to Provide Safe and Affordable Medicines for All

    LK0002, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. National Health Performance

    LK0003, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Ensuring transparency and impartiality in teacher recruitment policy and process in Sri Lanka

    LK0004, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Enhance the services of Government Information Center (GIC- 1919) for Inclusive, Transparent, accountable and Efficient Governance, using ICT as enabler

    LK0005, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Promote the Open Data Concept and delivering the benefits to Citizens through ICT

    LK0006, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. National Environmental Act (NEA) Amendments

    LK0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  23. Coast Conservation

    LK0008, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Flora and Fauna Protection

    LK0009, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Transparent and Accountable Procurement System for Local Authorities in Sri Lanka

    LK0010, 2016, Capacity Building

  26. Local Authority Procurement System Implementation

    LK0011, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  27. Annual Work Plan of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs to include a transparent and accountable process to implement selected Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Concluding Observations.

    LK0012, 2016, Gender

  28. CEDAW Implementation – Accountability

    LK0013, 2016, Gender

  29. CEDAW – Inclusion

    LK0014, 2016, Gender

  30. Strengthening Women Participation in the political decision making process at the local level

    LK0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Strengthen the anti-corruption framework to increase constructive public participation

    LK0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  32. Implement UNCAC

    LK0017, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  33. Coordination among Anti-Corruption Agencies

    LK0018, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  34. Corruption and Money Laundering

    LK0019, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Campaign Finance

    LK0020, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  36. Disseminate Asset Declaration

    LK0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  37. Starred commitment The enactment and implementation of the RTI Act

    LK0022, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  38. Proactive Disclosure

    LK0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation