Bulankulama and six others v. Ministry of Industrial Development and seven others (Eppawala court case) [ SC FR Application No 884/1999 ]

Country Sri Lanka
Category Right to a clean environment, Right to Work
Date of Judgment 02-06-2000
Link / Attachment https://www.elaw.org/content/sri-lanka-bulankulama-v-min-industrial-development-eppawala-case-sc-application-no-88499-fr
  • Description

    Early, in 1971, during the Geological Survey of the Anuradhapura district, the Department of Geological Survey discovered a deposit of phosphate rock occurring in the form of the mineral apatite at Eppawela in the Anuradhapura district.

    In December 1992, a notice calling for proposals to establish a Joint Venture for the manufacture of Phosphate fertilizer using the apatite deposit at Eppawela was published in local and foreign newspapers. Six proposals were received.  A committee appointed by the Cabinet, after the having considered an evaluation report decided with the approval of the Cabinet to undertake negotiations with Freeport MacMoran Resource Partners of USA.

    On the 17th of May 1998 the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Prof. V.K. Samaranayake wrote to the President of Sri Lanka stating that the council of the Academy was of the view as some of the vital data relating to the actual size and quality of the mineral deposit have not been adequately surveyed and established, the feasibility of the Project can be comprehensively appraised only when this vital data are available.

    On the 23rd of July, 1999 a committee of twelve scientists of the National Science Foundation submitted a report under the title “The Optimal use of Eppawela rock phosphate in Sri Lankan agriculture” (p12). It entailed that having observed the proposal of the U.S. Mining company,  many experts were of the view that it was disadvantageous to the country and with highly adverse environmental impacts”, the committee examined various proposals made and suggested options which in its view  which“are more advantageous to the country”.

    On the 8th of October, 1999 the seven Petitioners filed an application in this court under Article 17 read 126 of the constitution. The court (Fernando, Wadugodapitiya and Gunesekara, JJ.) on the 27th of October 1999 granted the seven petitioners leave to proceed with their application for declarations and relief arising from the alleged infringement of their fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 12 (1), 14(1) (g), and 14 (1) (h) of the Constitution

    Source:

    Bulankulama and six others v. Ministry of Industrial Development and seven others
    https://www.elaw.org/content/sri-lanka-bulankulama-v-min-industrial-development-eppawala-case-sc-application-no-88499-fr

  • Judgment

    (Excerpt from the transcription of the judgement)

    For the reasons set out in my judgement, I declare that an imminent infringement of the fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed by Articles 12(1), 14(1) (g) and 14(1) (h) has been established.

    There is no assurance of infallibility in what may be done: but, in the national interest, every effort ought to be made to minimize guesswork and reduce margins of error. Having regard to the evidence adduced and the submissions of learned counsel for the petitioners and respondents, in terms of Article 126 (4) of the constitution, I direct the respondents to desist from entering into any contract relating to the Eppawela phosphate deposit up to the time.

    a comprehensive exploration and study relating to the (a) locations, (b) quantity, moving inferred reserves into the proven category, and (c) quality of apatite and other phosphate minerals in Sri Lanka is made by the third respondent, The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, in consultation with the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka and the National Science Foundation, and the results of such exploration and study are published: any project proponent whomsoever obtains the approval of the Central Environmental Authority according to law, including the decisions of the superior Courts of record of Sri Lanka.

    I make further order that (1) the state shall pay each of the petitioners a sum of Rs.25,000 as costs: (2) the fifth respondent shall pay each of the petitioners a sum of Rs.12,500 as costs: (3) the seventh respondent shall pay each of the petitioners Rs.12,500 as costs.

    Source:

    Bulankulama and six others v. Ministry of Industrial Development and seven others
    https://www.elaw.org/content/sri-lanka-bulankulama-v-min-industrial-development-eppawala-case-sc-application-no-88499-fr