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TOURISM IN KALPITIYA: STOP AND REVIEW NOWBetween the fence and the deep seaIn Mohothtuwarama village in the Kalpitiya divi...
public and private. The area is mostly inhabited by poor fisher families numbering 10000or more. The majority are Sinhales...
Enter the IFFMAn international Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM), staffed by eminent civil societyrepresentatives from India, Ne...
selling dry fish, and provision of solar power panels since there is no electricity in theislands. In addition, a major in...
development and employment generation were expected to benefit the local communities.Some negative fallout on the cultural...
this to happen. Not only will this deprive the locals, it could impact the security oftourists as outsiders would not know...
who had been moved and resettled elsewhere by the government during the LTTE period.An appeal to CEDEC (now called CARITAS...
deal of friction between the two parties. In view of the skyrocketing price of land -reportedly selling for 40 lakh per ac...
management training institutes, capacity enhancement and alternative livelihood trainingsuch as handicrafts and cottage in...
conversations with journalists, community leaders and social activists from organizationssuch as NAFSO and Praja Abhilasha...
denying access and so has the Tourism Board, thus literally leaving the villagers high anddry. In addition to losing easy ...
nets. At 10 to 12 per cent, the interest rate is high. The navy is cooperative to the limitedextent of giving them permits...
• Although they are relatively powerless, they are willing to put up a resistance.         They intend to start intensive ...
• A National Commission must be set up to conduct the said review.       • The review must take into account people’s aspi...
heed or will it just rush ahead with the project as planned, dazzled by the prospect oflucre and the chance to exhibit Sri...
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Sri lanka IFFM final report

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Sri lanka IFFM final report

  1. 1. TOURISM IN KALPITIYA: STOP AND REVIEW NOWBetween the fence and the deep seaIn Mohothtuwarama village in the Kalpitiya division of Sri Lanka, more than a thousandpeople are trapped! The sea has washed their huts away. Living there for generations andfamiliar with the ocean and its ways, they would simply move further inland when thishappens. This time, however, it was not possible. The land has been taken over for agovernment tourism project, fences erected and gates locked.The Mohothtuwarama villagers are not alone in their distress. Nearby islands such asIlluppanthivu and Uchchamunai are also facing a similar predicament. More and moreland is being sequestered and access denied, thereby putting villagers’ homes andlivelihoods at risk, their rights under threat and their peace of mind in jeopardy. And yet,the people themselves appear to have little say in the matter and feel that they have noone to help them, nowhere to turn.The Kalpitiya Islands and the Tourism Master Plan of the Sri Lankan GovernmentAs part of a proposed countrywide tourism development plan with the aim of bringing2.5 million tourists to Sri Lanka by 2016 against 0.6 million at the end of 2010, theCeylon Tourist Board (CTB) has chosen 14 islands in Kalpitiya in the Puttalam district ofthe North Western province as the site for the Kalpitiya Dutch Bay Resort DevelopmentProject, launched in 2008. Kalpitiya is a peninsula that separates the Puttalam lagoonfrom the Indian Ocean and is a marine sanctuary with a diversity of habitats ranging frombar reefs, flat coastal plains, saltpans, mangroves swamps, salt marshes and vast sanddune beaches. Dolphins, sea turtles and coral reefs are plentiful in the zone. Nearbyattractions include Wilpattu sanctuary, a historical Dutch fort and church, St. Anne’schurch in Thalawila and the ancient historic city of Anuradhapura. The 14 islands have atotal landmass of 1672.67 hectares (4133.19 acres). Nine islands totaling 268.94 hectares(664.28 acres) are entirely state land whereas the remaining ones have mixed ownership, 1
  2. 2. public and private. The area is mostly inhabited by poor fisher families numbering 10000or more. The majority are Sinhalese and Muslims with a sprinkling of Tamils and others.Roman Catholicism and Islam are the principal religions. Kalpitiya is a relativelyunderdeveloped region of the country. Education, healthcare, infrastructure and servicesare scarce and of low quality. For instance, the level of schooling in the fisher communityis only up to the 4th/5th standard or less, despite the fact that Sri Lanka as a whole ranksfairly high among developing countries in terms of basic social indicators.According to the tourism development plan, seventeen hotels with a total capacity of5000 rooms and 10000 beds are to be built. Of these, 3 each are five and four-star hotels,2 are three-star, 1 two-star and 1 one-star. The remaining 7 have not yet been classified.A wide variety of tourist activities are in the offing including fishing tourism, deep seadiving, nature-based tourism, beach, sport and adventure tourism, and agro tourism. Inaddition, culture, village and event tourism are also planned. Hotels, chalets, waterbungalows, Ayurvedic hotels, beach cabanas, sun huts, outdoor barbeque pits, open airperformance areas will be available. In order to attract all categories of tourists to theresort, a plethora of attractions and activities will be offered. Cable car tours, themeparks, underwater amusement parks, boat safaris, water sports, golf courses, observationtowers, camping, race course, cricket grounds, farms and botanical gardens, shoppingcenters, museums, art and entertainment centers will cater to tourists - young or old, richor budget, adventurous or sedate. To facilitate tourism, infrastructure development will beundertaken including helipads, sea flight ports, jetties, cycling routes, and foot pathways.A domestic airport will be built on Uchchamunai island. Furthermore, amenities such aselectricity, water, drainage, telecommunications and solid and liquid disposal systemswill all be put in place. According to government estimates, the project will generate atotal of 37500 new jobs with 15000 being direct ones and 22500 indirect. The privatesector is heavily involved in the project with local corporations as well as multinationalsbeing major stakeholders. 2
  3. 3. Enter the IFFMAn international Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM), staffed by eminent civil societyrepresentatives from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, undertook a wide-ranginginvestigation at the grassroots level in order to determine the scope of the tourism projectand its possible consequences. Over an extended period of five days - 23 to 27 February2011 - the team visited Kalpitiya and the islands of Mohothtuwarama, Illuppanthivu andUchchamunai and interacted with a large number of individuals, groups andorganizations. In addition to villagers and their communities, the panel met withgovernment officials, NGO activists, religious and community leaders, journalists, andrepresentatives of cooperatives and trade unions. Carefully documenting their findingsand subjecting those to an in-depth analysis, the IFFM members came up with a set ofobservations and recommendations that were reported in a press briefing held on the 27th.The main contact groups for the IFFM were the Food Sovereignty Network of South Asia(FSNSA), NAFSO (Sri Lanka), Praja Abhilasha Network (Sri Lanka) and IMSE (India).As Government sees itThe IFFM met with several government officials in Puttalam and Kalpitiya includingrepresentatives from the Fisheries Board, Divisional Secretariat, Coast ConservationDepartment and Regional Council. For logistical reasons, officials from the CeylonTourism Board (CTB) could not be interviewed. According to the assistant director of thefisheries department in Puttalam, who is responsible for issuing permits to fishermen,illegal fishing is the main problem faced by fisher families at this time. Fishing remainssmall-scale and family-based and there is no corporate fishing. Fishermen’ cooperativesare coordinated by the Fisheries Department in conjunction with the CooperativesDepartment. In Puttalam district, there are 15546 active fishermen and 12680 fishingfamilies. A total of 44380 people are directly involved in fishing and related activitiessuch as drying fish. Fishing is regulated by the Fisheries Management Act of 1996. Otherthan issuing permits, the fisheries department has taken up a number of welfare programsfor fishermen such as training for safety at sea, instruction in techniques of preparing and 3
  4. 4. selling dry fish, and provision of solar power panels since there is no electricity in theislands. In addition, a major initiative called the RELP (Regional Fisheries LivelihoodProgram) involving Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Timor and Vietnam hasrecently been mooted with five key areas of concern - core management, safety at sea,microfinance, post-harvesting and alternative livelihoods. In Puttalam itself, officialsfrom different government departments meet once a month to discuss issues pertinent tofishing and fishermen. The district secretary coordinates the meeting. Additionalmeetings are also held on a regular basis.Regarding tourism and the project, the assistant director started by making the generalobservation that Sri Lanka was a developing country with limited resources that neededto be used wisely and well. Kalpitiya was a good site for tourism, which ought to bedeveloped further. On no account however, were fishermen to be hurt or their livelihoodscompromised. In order to do this, more inter-agency coordination would be needed.Expansion of infrastructure such as landing sites and construction of community hallswere some of his specific suggestions for improving the lives and overall condition offishermen. The assistant director rued that not enough information on the tourism projectwas available to him and expressed his desire to know more, especially on the issues ofdirect concern to his department.The same issue of inadequate information about the project, even on the part ofgovernment officials, also came up in the conversation that the IFFM held with theDivisional Secretary of Kalpitiya, whose office is responsible for handling all land-related matters. The lack of information has been partly engendered by the fact that allmajor decisions regarding this particular project, from conceptualization to elaboration ofa master plan, were done in Colombo under a special procedure and with direct Cabinetapproval. The divisional secretariat has been charged with the responsibility foridentifying “state” and “private” land, acquiring land from private owners and giving itover to the Tourism Board. In his view, fishing communities ought to be a part and parcelof the process. At the same time, he felt that there was a consensus on the project at thegovernmental level and its overall impact would be positive. For instance, infrastructure 4
  5. 5. development and employment generation were expected to benefit the local communities.Some negative fallout on the cultural side was a possibility, although minor in nature.The process of identification and buying of land was already under way with 5000 acresacquired so far. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been conducted and thereport will be available in the public domain including the internet.“Not every change is harmful”. That is how an official of the Coast ConservationDepartment (CCD) summed up his views on the tourism project in Kalpitiya. Shouldthere be any negative effects - none apparent so far - these must be settled by negotiatedconservation among stakeholders including fishing communities. A highlight of thetourism plan, according to this respondent, was its emphasis on eco-tourism. Fishermentoo are being encouraged to engage in eco-friendly fishing. Moreover, they are expectedto profit from the project in various way such as lending their extra boats to the tourismdepartment to ferry tourists.A somewhat less enthusiastic appraisal of the project was voiced by an outgoing memberof the Kalpitiya Regional Council. In his opinion, there was no proper coordinationamong local people, local governmental bodies and the CTB even now, althoughpreliminary surveys had been done by the government as early as 2005 and actualacquisition of land had started in 2007. However, land acquisition was already under wayeven before the EIA report was available for viewing and discussion. Not the usualprocedure, this contributed further to the prevailing confusion since determining landownership was an exceedingly complex issue. Citing the case of the Noraichchulai powerplant project nearby where such information and communication gap led to majorproblems and a popular protest, he stressed the need for an informed and sustained dialogamong all stakeholders. Himself a local, he felt strongly about the issue and although notcompletely averse to the idea of people being shifted for the project, he emphasized that itmust be done properly with careful attention being paid to their physical and emotionalwell-being, down to the minutest details. For instance, while the CCD official expressedthe view that fishermen would be able to augment their income by ferrying tourists in thespare boats, this interviewee was of the opinion that hotel owners were unlikely to allow 5
  6. 6. this to happen. Not only will this deprive the locals, it could impact the security oftourists as outsiders would not know the waters as well. Dolphins and other aquatic floraand fauna could be harmed and their natural habitat damaged. As the council workedclosely with the community and was responsible for taking care of the everyday needs ofthe people ranging from providing information to keeping the streets clean to ensuringproper running of community schools, the council member felt that he was in anunenviable position since promises made by government were sometimes not kept. Aclear example would be the beach seines which were indeed affected despite assurancesto the contrary. As a member of the ruling party, his desire was to get complete andtimely information from higher-ups enabling him to pass it on to the local community.Promises must be kept and locals must benefit from the project. He would stand by hispeople.Vox populi - PeoplespeakCommunity, Religious and Civil Society organizationsAs part of its exploration, the IFFM met with several individuals and organizations whoseideas and work had a direct bearing on the issue of tourism in Kalpitiya. These includedthe All Ceylon Fisher Folk Trade Union (Kalpitiya Branch), Organization for theProtection of People’s Rights, the assistant parish priest of Kalpitiya, the NGOHumanitarian Brotherhood Foundation (HBF), Traders Association of Kalpitiya,journalists, social workers and local businessmen.A full 99% of the 750 or so families in 6 of the islands earmarked for the tourism projectwere fishing families, according to the representative of the All Ceylon Fisher Folk TradeUnion, Kalpitiya. They had some knowledge about the project early on in the process.About five or six years ago, the Ceylon Tourism Board had organized a meeting with thevillage communities to inform them about the project and has since reiterated itscommitment to helping them. However, villagers felt left out especially when an entiremangrove island - Illuppanthivu, measuring 140 acres or so - that they used as a base forfishing was taken over by the Board. The island was once actually inhabited by fishermen 6
  7. 7. who had been moved and resettled elsewhere by the government during the LTTE period.An appeal to CEDEC (now called CARITAS) - a church body concerned with socialissues - resulted in an offer of 10 acres on the island for the villagers to continue theirfishing activities. Even this meager portion of land is yet to be handed over. Many otherissues such as land for building a boatyard, banning of several kinds of fishing (mainlyfor environmental reasons), marketing of harvest and meddling by politicians in the localcooperatives have prevented the fisher folk from uniting in a common cause with acutepoverty also being a significant factor in their feeling of loneliness and despair. The oldfisher cooperative, set up by the Fisheries Department, has been all but supplanted by anew one, again set up by the same office. This has resulted in increased tension andconfusion within the community. Lack of consultation has left the communitiesuninformed and uncertain about their future. However, this conversation with the IFFMhas rekindled their hope for becoming meaningful participants in the process. Enthusedand buoyed, they put forth the following demands. • Sensitize political and religious leaders about the issues facing the villagers. • Create a space for discussing their issues and problems. • They have little information. More is needed. • They are not opposed to tourism but want it on their own terms.Lack of information and consultation came up again as central issues in the IFFM’sconversation with the Organization for Protection of People’s Rights on the currentsituation in Mohothtuwarama. Even construction has started without proper consultation.Letters to concerned authorities have fetched no reply except for a brief note that a letterhas been shared with the GS (Grama Sevaka). As property prices have shot up anddevelopers have acquired land, even the beach seines requiring 100 meters of room havebecome nearly inoperable. Some people, mostly non-resident landowners and a fewlocals as well, have willingly sold their land, thus making the situation even morecomplex. Traditional pathways have been put off limits, forcing the fishers to walk milesand miles to get to the beach only a few hundred meters away. When they cut the fences,the hoteliers retaliated by digging pits. The authorities refused to accede to the villagers’demand for getting “patta” (land titles) or at least a written promise. This led to a great 7
  8. 8. deal of friction between the two parties. In view of the skyrocketing price of land -reportedly selling for 40 lakh per acre on the beach side and 25 at the lagoon end - it wasall the more important to accurately determine land ownership and give legal titles.Eviction is a constant fear that communities were plagued with and there are even somereports and rumors that displacement is actually taking place in some islands.Viewing the land situation as a critical matter requiring immediate attention, the churchorganization CEDEC (CARITAS) has recently organized a meeting with significantparticipation by the islanders, as the IFFM was told by the newly appointed assistantparish priest of the Kalpitiya Church. The Catholic Church has a major presence in theregion, counting 1300 families in Kalpitiya and another 1000 in the islands as itsmembers. While skeptical that fisherfolk stood to gain much from the tourism project, thechurch was resolved to support their cause and try to limit the harm that might come theirway.The Humanitarian Brotherhood Foundation (HBF) is a registered NGO with a record oflong and active service in Kalpitiya. In their view, lack of transparency was a majordrawback of the way the project has been conceptualized and was currently beingimplemented. This was rendered all the more serious by the fact that the project waslikely to have both positive and negative outcomes and people needed to be properlyinformed so they could make the best possible choices. A Land Acquisition Policy (1971)was in place, and while such acquisition was not necessarily illegal or in contradictionwith stated government policy, still the entire process needed to be participatory andopen. For example, government normally gives retractable permits for temporary use ofstate land and agriculturalists and fishers often use other people’s land with theirpermission. If permits were suddenly revoked or owners sold their land, these peoplewould be summarily denied access and their livelihoods placed under severe threat. TheHBF has been instrumental in motivating the Mohothtuwarama villagers to take up therelevant issues with the government and the NGO has also set up a women’s body -Integrated Development Program - to ensure that women would have their fair share inthe decisionmaking process. Additionally, HBF is starting skill building programs, hotel 8
  9. 9. management training institutes, capacity enhancement and alternative livelihood trainingsuch as handicrafts and cottage industries. A woman member of the NGO asserted thatwomen were increasingly viewing the tourism project in terms of job creation andmarketing opportunities for products such as dry fish, palmyra and seashell work.Expanded employment and marketing opportunities emerged as the core issues in themeeting that the IFFM conducted with the Traders Association in Kalpitiya. About 65%of the population in Kalpitiya proper is Muslim and many are businessmen, dealing ingoods such as textiles, jewelry and fancy products. Like many others interviewed beforeand after, the businessmen too had the feeling of being left in the dark about the projectand stated that they had the first inkling about it only when people actually came to buyland. While they were hopeful that improvements in infrastructure would aid theirbusiness, they were wary of outside competition in both goods and investment and fearedthat the hotel industry would have a negative impact on culture. Some employment forlocals may or may not be generated, but it would not be culturally appropriate formembers of the Muslim community to have their children work in hotels and such. Askedabout their view of development, they named education, infrastructure, water (providedby the state) and improved healthcare as their top priorities and wondered to what extentthe tourism project would bring these amenities to the area. Fishermen, however, werelikely to face the biggest challenge which in turn would also affect them as the twocommunities - fishing and business - were closely connected, buying and selling fromeach other and sharing the same home. As one businessman put it: “At the end of the day,we will support our city people.”Possible impacts of the tourism project on business also featured in discussions with localhotel owners/managers in Kalpitiya who hope that they will still be able to keep budgettourists while the richer ones may flock to the luxury hotels and resorts. Small businesscould also get a boost. The general feeling, however, was that lack of education was afundamental impediment to any real development of the area and this in itself wouldhinder people from taking full advantage of possible benefits of the tourism project andsimilar schemes. The need for people-centered development was also the focal point in 9
  10. 10. conversations with journalists, community leaders and social activists from organizationssuch as NAFSO and Praja Abhilasha, closely familiar with the region and its people. Intheir view, education, along with a participatory model of development would fosterawareness which in turn would lead to a concerted effort for a common cause and thebelief in being able to make a difference.Villagers - the view from belowThe IFFM visited three island communities - Mohothtuwarama, Illuppanthivu andUchchamunai and conducted meetings with individuals and communities.MohothtuwaramaThe lives of Mohothtuwarana villagers are changing rapidly. Living there for generations,they would walk the short distance to the sea at their doorstep, work the beach seines andfish. Owing to a dearth of fresh water, they cannot farm and fishing is their primaryoccupation. Some collect crabs and seashells and a few run small businesses. Some landdistribution was undertaken by government after the 1971 Land Ceiling Act. However,many lack land titles and determining land ownership is a vexatious and thorny issue withclaims and counterclaims, multiple ownership, encroachment, corruption and title suitsgoing on for generations. At 715.14 hectares (1766.39 acres), it is the largest of thefourteen islands and will bear the brunt of the tourism project with the largest number ofhotels - 10 out of a total of 17 with 2300 out of 5000 rooms - to be built here. Touristshave always come to Mohothtuwarana, but they were few in number and did not upsetthe rhythm of the villagers’ daily lives. From around 2004 however, ideas of developingtourism in a big way slowly took root and the influx of visitors rose sharply. Rich peoplestarted acquiring land that was still cheap. The land was later sold to developers whofenced it off. Although a gazette notification of 1985 provided for only 20 meters ofbeach land for operating the seines, necessity and custom demanded that 100 meters beset aside for the purpose. All of a sudden, however, there was no room to haul in the netsas beach strips as long as hundreds of meters were cordoned off. The fence has recentlybeen extended. Companies such as Hassan Gate and De Silva have put up notice boards 10
  11. 11. denying access and so has the Tourism Board, thus literally leaving the villagers high anddry. In addition to losing easy access to the sea and the beach, villagers must now walklong distances on circuitous routes to reach the church, cemetery and other places theywould visit as a matter of course. When the sea comes in, they cannot move theirdwellings further inland, as they always have. Some of the fences also seem to fall withinthe 300 meters mark from the high tide point inside which it is illegal to put up structures.All of this has been done with little consultation with villagers that has made themconfused and resentful. Anxious and fearful about what the future holds for them andtheir home, they are slowly beginning to put their differences away and come together tospeak as one.The Mohothtuwarana villagers demand that: • Land titles must be given to them without delay. • Tourism should not disturb their lives and livelihoods. • They should have free and easy access to the sea and the tourist islands for fishing, as before. • They should not be coaxed or coerced by government or developers into parting with their lands. • Identification cards must be provided for fishermen, especially when fishing in the islands, to avoid problems and misunderstandings with the navy and others. • Villagers must be consulted and full disclosure of all plans and proposals must be made to them. They should be an integral part of the entire process.IlluppanthivuMore than one hundred fishermen live and fish on Illuppanthivu island during the weekand go home elsewhere in the weekend. Sometimes their families visit and stay withthem on the island. The island has been taken over by a hotelier who has so far allowedthem to remain there and fish but what the future will bring, no one can say. The catch isuneven and slowly declining. Sometimes it brings in fish worth 2000 rupees a day for afisherman, at other times he might earn little or nothing. Practically all are in debt forbuying the boats which they themselves own, repairing engines and purchasing fishing 11
  12. 12. nets. At 10 to 12 per cent, the interest rate is high. The navy is cooperative to the limitedextent of giving them permits to fish and issuing identification cards. Out of theapproximately 190 acres of the entire island, fishermen are asking for a small piece ofland to use as a base to continue fishing. Five acres were made available to them by thehotelier, but the place was unsuitable with a profusion of seaweed that damaged the boatengines. At the moment, getting an appropriate plot is their main concern. But with hotelsand tourism overtaking the place, they are worried that their serene and contentedlifestyle is about to change drastically. Will they still be able to bring their wives andchildren on to the island? Only the future will tell.UchchamunaiUchchamunai was once home to more that 600 families. Many moved away to Kalpitiyaduring the years of civil conflict and also because the island has no schools above theprimary level. Approximately 270 or so families still live here but have no land titles.Small parcels of land have supposedly been reserved by the government for locals, butactual distribution is yet to take place. Large tracts of state land close to the sea have beenset aside for the tourism project. Signboards, some put up by the navy, restricting entryare prominently displayed, high barbed-wire fences are in place and gates are securelylocked. There are also plans to build a landing site for tourist seaplanes on the island. Allof this have left the people alarmed, perplexed, and increasingly, angry. Realizing thatthey needed to discuss the issues in private as well as in public in order to come up with aconsensus and a clear set of goals to build up a movement and garner outside support fortheir cause, they summarized their feelings in the following statements. • They are afraid of being displaced and evicted from their homes. • They want more information on the project. A senior official such as the Divisional Secretary should come and give them details. • They want education, healthcare, and infrastructure. These are their priorities. • They are fearful that tourism will gravely damage their traditional lifestyle and threaten their culture. Everything from choice of food to social relations will be forced to change. • They seriously doubt that tourism will create job opportunities for them. 12
  13. 13. • Although they are relatively powerless, they are willing to put up a resistance. They intend to start intensive consultations with the people of other islands under threat.The IFFM observes and recommendsOn the basis of its extensive interactions with a wide spectrum of stakeholders asdelineated above, the IFFM has made the following observations. • The project today is adversely affecting the livelihoods of the people and will surely have a negative impact on their social and cultural realities as well. • Already, the project has caused some land alienation resulting in considerable restrictions on people’s access to sea, fishing and other activities. • Entire communities face an imminent threat of displacement which appears to be already under way. • The process is suffering from a comprehensive absence of precise and timely information for communities. Non-transparency, non-accountability and non- responsiveness on the part of government and the consequent lack of people’s participation is a matter of grave concern. • While a study of the environmental impact of the project has been (EIA) has been done, no such study on its socio-cultural and economic impact has been conducted. Even the EIA report was not available in the public domain in a timely fashion. • In anticipation of large-scale private sector investment, a detailed Investors Guideline has been prepared. However, corresponding regulatory mechanisms are yet to be properly put in place. • There is a groundswell of resentment and resistance against the project. However, resistance has been weak so far due to lack of information, coordination and apprehensions of reprisal by the state.In light of the above observations, the IFFM recommends the following: • The project must be stopped with immediate effect and a review carried out. 13
  14. 14. • A National Commission must be set up to conduct the said review. • The review must take into account people’s aspirations and their notions of development. • The review should respect the social, economic, cultural and political rights of the people and emphasize information flow, transparency and participation thereby ensuring accountability on the state’s part. • To address the issue of land alienation, legal land titles should be given. • People’s livelihoods must not be disturbed on any account. Necessary measures to ensure this, such as unimpeded access to the coast and sea, must be taken. • Food sovereignty must be recognized as a fundamental right not to be compromised in the name of development.Development - one goal, two paths?What model of development should an up and coming country like Sri Lanka pursue inorder to move forward on the path of progress? What are the goals, rewards and pitfalls?In the case of the mammoth tourism project in Kalpitiya, the first in a series of suchventures across the nation, the government appears to have focused more on the rapidcreation of wealth and somewhat less on the project’s differential impacts on themultifarious socio-economic groups and communities involved, especially the mostvulnerable and marginal ones. The largest beneficiaries will be investors, developers, andthe owners of resorts and hotels. Business might benefit as well. Taxes will flow intogovernment coffers. Improvements in infrastructure will be a boon for the entire region.But for the unfortunate fishermen of Kalpitiya and the islands, eking out a meager livingon their humble catamarans, the project is only the harbinger of the loss of home andlivelihood. Uninformed, fearful and poor, they want and need direct and targetedprograms in areas such as education, healthcare, clean drinking water, roads, jobopportunities and capacity enhancement to improve their lives. They wish to preserve andenjoy their culture. Is it just and right that while others reap a windfall in profits andmake merry, the sons of the soil are forced to content themselves merely by being chancebeneficiaries of the project’s incidental fallout? Will the government, their very own, pay 14
  15. 15. heed or will it just rush ahead with the project as planned, dazzled by the prospect oflucre and the chance to exhibit Sri Lanka and the Kalpitiya tourist zone as a “wonder ofAsia”? 15

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