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Adani’s Mannar wind power project challenged in Supreme Court.

By: Staff Writer

May 19, Colombo (LNW): In a momentous move aimed at protecting the unique ecosystem of Mannar Island, the environmental protection organisation, Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS), has filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court.

This legal action challenges the recent cabinet decision to award a wind power project in Mannar Island to Adani Green Energy Ltd., of India.

The petitioner WNPS is represented by President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardana with Prashanthi Mahindarathe, Revan Weerasinghe and Rukshan Senadheera, instructed by S.W.A. Amila Kumara.

Indian giant and the world’s biggest renewable energy producer Adani is to invest $ 442 million for two wind projects 250 MW in Mannar and 234 MW in Pooneryn.

WNPS, known for its staunch advocacy for environmental conservation, argues that the project poses a severe threat to the island’s unique biodiversity and pristine landscapes especially in the Mannar Island.

The island itself is home to several protected areas such as the Adam’s Bridge National Park, the Viduthalaithivu National Park and the Vankalai Sanctuary.

The former two were declared RAMSAR wetlands only a few months ago by Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.

In addition, Mannar is the southernmost point of the Central Asian Flyway used by innumerable migratory species, while also being home to several indigenous water bird and bat species.

WNPS contends that the decision to approve the project was made without any appreciation of Mannar’s singular positioning as a biodiversity hub, violating both national environmental protection laws as well as international conventions.

The island’s diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, coral reefs, and wetlands, play a crucial role in maintaining the region’s environmental balance.

The organisation states that a severe threat exists that the construction and operation of the wind power project could lead to irreversible damage to these ecosystems.

The Petitioner contends that the manner and form of these actions by various authorities grossly abuse the doctrine of public trust reposed in authorities like the Forest Department and Department of Wildlife that have blithely ignored the irreparable ramifications of this project in a protected area replete with vulnerable species and war affected population struggling to survive.

The proposed Adani project will potentially raise the number of turbines on Mannar island to 82, supplementing the 30 turbines already existing as part of the Thambapawani project which has already caused staggering numbers of bird deaths, more than anticipated by the ornithologists consulted on the project.

If allowed to continue unabated the extension to the Adani project – titled Phase III – will pockmark Mannar island with 103 turbines across nearly 66% of Mannar’s land mass which has been declared Energy Development Areas.

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