Eppawala Phosphate Extraction Case

Case number

SC (FR) Application No. 884/1999

Bulankulama and six others v. the Ministry of Industrial Development and seven others

This Fundamental Right Case instituted by residents of Eppawala, seeking relief for infringement of their rights under Articles 12(1), 14(1) (g) and 14(1)(h) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka by the proposed Mineral Investment Agreement in respect of the Eppawala phosphate deposit. This agreement was made between the Sri Lankan Government and Freeport Mac Moran of USA. Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL) was the supportive hand for the Petitioners in respect of scientific and legal researches.

Justice Amerasinghe, who headed the bench, stated that “the organs of State are guardians to whom the people have committed the care and preservation of the resources of the people¨ and there was an imminent infringement of the petitioners’ fundamental rights to equality, their choice of occupation and their choice of residence.

The Court held further that Sri Lanka as a member of the United Nations be binding principles set out in International Declarations, if they have been either expressly enacted or become a part of the domestic law by adoption by the superior courts of record, in their decisions. The proposed agreement be considered in the light of the principles such as Inter-generational equity, Sustainable Development, Precautionary principles in order to protect the environment described in U.N Stockholm Declaration -1972 (Principle 21,14,1,2,5,6,7) and UN Rio De Janeiro Declaration -1992 (Principle 1,2,3,4,15).

State agencies involved were directed to desist from entering in to any contract until they had carried out a comprehensive exploration and study of the location, quantity and quality of the phosphate deposit in consultation with the National Academy of Science and the National Science Foundation and until the project proponent obtains the approval of the Central Environmental Authority according to law.