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Hambantota Port Development Project, Sri Lanka

Police used water cannons in clashes between government supporters and villagers (and monks) who marched against the grabbing of private land for an industrial zone and port supported by China.


Developing the Hambantota region started as a dream of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa [1]  – to build a No. 2 city that would grow up around an emerging deep sea port in an under-developed, jungle area that’s best known for its pristine beaches and wildlife preserves. The Hambantota dream hasn’t quite worked out as designed. Without an accompanying industrial zone or other local businesses to drive demand, Hambantota’s deep sea port struggled to attract ships and cargo volumes, Mattala International Airport became known as the world’s emptiest because of the region’s inability to attract passengers, newly paved, multi-lane highways provided thoroughfares for a severe lack of vehicles, the new cricket stadium was deficient of matches, and the conference center sat empty except for the odd local weddings. All the while, this loss-making infrastructure continued consuming massive amounts of national revenue to operate and maintain. [2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hambantota Port Development Project, Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
State or province:Southern Province
Location of conflict:Hambantota and Mirijjawila village in Ambalantota
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The construction of Hambantota Port is one of the major development projects that had been undertaken by Sri Lanka ports Authority. This port development work is scheduled to implement in phases. Phase I developments has already been completed while phase II development is in progress.

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Project area:6,070
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,400,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2016
End of the conflict:2017
Company names or state enterprises:China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited (CMHI) from China - 80-percent ownership
China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) from China - Builder and operator for the container terminal at Hambantota
Relevant government actors:-Sri Lanka Ports Authority
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsMarine Ecology and Fisheries
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The issue is still ongoing and the people might be displaced in the near future. We are not sure if the CM Port will follow all the environmental and social regulations, so there are still large uncertainties.
Sources & Materials

[1] Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa
[click to view]

[2] Sri Lanka Now Claims It Didn't Really Sell Key National Infrastructure To China
[click to view]

[3] How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port
[click to view]

[4] Done Deal: China Buys Strategic Sri Lankan Seaport; The Belt And Road Reigns Victorious
[click to view]

[5] Sri Lanka puts down protests at planned China-led investment zone
[click to view]

[6] Clashes erupt as Sri Lankans protest China port deal
[click to view]

[7] 21 injured in clashes in Sri Lanka over China port deal
[click to view]

[10] Sri Lanka launches China-led investment zone amid protests
[click to view]

[11] Shipping Minister to power more ports development post-Hambantota deal
[click to view]

[12] Shekou
[click to view]

[13]斯里兰卡将汉班托塔港经营权移交中国 中方提出建成“斯里兰卡的蛇口”
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[8] Sri Lanka: 21 injured as protesting monks clash with police in Ambalantota
[click to view]

[9] Protests in Sri Lanka over China port deal
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3605
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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