The Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage today informed the Court of Appeal that the cargo vessel carrying contaminated fertilizer from China has left Sri Lankan waters.
The Minister made these revelations through Attorney General when the writ petition against the importation of organic fertilizer was taken up for support before Court of Appeal.
Senior State Counsel Nirmalan Wigneswaran appearing for the Minister Aluthgamage said the Chinese company, Qingdao Biotech Group Co. Ltd has informed Sri Lanka government that Hippo Spirit vessel is moving away from Sri Lankan waters.
The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) had filed this writ petition seeking an order to quash the decision taken by the Minister of Agriculture to import organic fertiliser into the country.
Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Justice Dhammika Ganepola fixed the petition for support on May 9.
The petitioners state the decision of authorities to import organic fertiliser into the country violates the provisions of the Plant Protection Act No. 35 of 1999, National Environmental Act No. 47 of 1980 and other statutory duties of the respondents.
The petitioners are further seeking an order directing the respondents including Minister of Agriculture MahindanandaAluthgamage to take necessary steps to implement a proper mechanism to produce organic fertiliser locally.
The petitioners state that although the Government initially assured that organic fertiliser would be produced in Sri Lanka and that farmers would be compensated for crop losses from money saved from a chemical fertiliser subsidy, nevertheless what happened was, a tender was placed to import approximately 96000 MT of organic fertiliser to be supplied to farmers in Sri Lanka.
Petitioners state that accordingly, the tender to import about 96000 metric tons of organic fertiliser at the cost of $63 million to Sri Lanka has been awarded to a Chinese company called Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd, which operate a large factory in the port city of Qingdao, China. The Chinese company is expected to supply Sri Lanka with Sea Weed Organic Granular Fertiliser, Protein peptide etc.
The petitioners state that the rich biodiversity in Sri Lanka is the wealth of the nation. Several measures have been taken in policy and regulatory frameworks over the past few decades to protect this biodiversity and safeguard sensitive ecosystems. Petitioners state that Sri Lanka has enough experience of endangering ecosystems due to the spread of invasive plants and animals and disease-causing organisms introduced from other countries.
Petitioners state that the Agriculture experts warned that China's organic fertiliser importation would create an agricultural disaster in Sri Lanka. The Agriculture Ministry also confirmed the presence of harmful microorganisms in the said sample.
Senior Counsel Ravindranath Dabare appeared for the petitioner. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)