Protecting the Ocean and Rivers in Sri Lanka

Elephants bathing at Maha Oya, Sri Lanka. PHOTO: Rajiv Perera on Unsplash

This month, the Centre for Environmental Justice in Sri Lanka announced back to back wins to enforce existing environmental protections.


Sand Mining Concessions Blocked

In December, Sri Lanka’s President tried to grant concessions to the sand mining industry. According to CEJ’s Nimmi Sanjeewani, sand mining is, “eroding river deltas, damaging coastlines, lowering ground water levels, hurting marine life, causing landslides, drought, and flooding, and degrading sediment in rivers and coastal areas in Sri Lanka.”

CEJ filed legal action and this month the Court of appeal ordered the Inspector General of Police to enforce tight controls on transporting sand to protect the environment and ecosystems along rivers across the island nation.

Colombo, Sri Lanka. PHOTO: Nitin Gupta on Unsplash

Textile Company’s Ocean Dumping Arrested

When government agencies caught a company dumping tanks of effluent illegally, they called on CEJ to help. CEJ’s legal team filed a public nuisance case three hours after receiving the information. They got an injunction and requested police to hold the tanks until an order comes from the Court.

“The company has too many green certificates, awards, and CSR programme too. But we found the operation is not so green,” says Hemantha Withanage of CEJ.


ELAW Partner Spotlight Hemantha Withanage

Hemantha is a scientist who has collaborated with the ELAW network since 1991 to protect the environment and public health in Sri Lanka. He is the Executive Director of CEJ, an initiative created to protect the equal environmental rights of the people and environment, and promote ecological sustainability by supporting ecologically sound community activities.

CEJ planned to host the 2020 ELAW Annual International Meeting in May, which was unfortunately canceled due to the pandemic. We look forward to the next opportunity for ELAW partners to gather to share lessons and replicate victories to advance environmental justice and human rights around the world.

Karen Guillory
Outreach Coordinator
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

For more information, see:

Macau News Agency July 12, 2020
Sri Lanka Court Blocks President’s Sand Mining Concessions