World Bank to inspect the allegations regarding project harming Sinharaja

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT – A World Bank team is currently assessing whether a project funded by the bank is causing harm to the fragile Sinharaja Forest reserve.

This follows allegations levelled against the project by environmentalists that a concrete road being built through the reserve was causing harm to the environment and livelihoods.

A statement issued by the World Bank’s office in Colombo says an “inspection team is responding to a request on the Ecosystem Conservation and Management Project (ESCAMP) project in Sri Lanka which aims to help protect the country’s natural habitats and resources from degradation and exploitation.”

‘As per standard procedure, the Panel team came to visit Sri Lanka to assess the eligibility of the complaint. This mission was not an investigation mission, nor did it make any judgements on the possible merits of the complaint,’ a statement of the World Bank said.

‘At this point in time the panel has not made a determination or confirmation if any harm has occurred in connection with the Bank-supported project,’ a statement pointed out.

The statement further said that the panel is currently assessing the technical eligibility of the request and will eventually make a recommendation to the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors as to whether the matter warrants an investigation.

‘The Inspection Panel is an independent mechanism of the World Bank aimed at enhancing the accountability of the institution’s development work,’

‘The Inspection Panel’s mandate is to review the World Bank’s compliance with its own policies and procedures and not the activities of the borrowing government or its agencies,’ the statement added.

The allegations were made by the convener of Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) Dr Ravindra Kariyawasam at a press conference held in Colombo on Monday.

He claimed that the Sinharaja Forest Reserve has sustained damage due to the construction of a concrete-laden road which is being built under the ESCAMP project. (Colombo, February 14, 2020)

-Edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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