I have lived in these parts in the Ampara District for the past 25 years that is on the dirt track between Maha Oya and Rathmalgaha Ella which is my stomping ground. I have seen so much in the intervening period I fear for tomorrow, my kids who have flown the coop and live nearby and for all wildlife, animals, birds and all creatures. Yes I live by eating reptiles and lizards, but I don’t eat to decimate populations, otherwise I will have nothing to eat myself.
Just as my pals the Brahminis, who hover over the nearby Rambakan Oya to pick off the fish when they come up to the surface, we are all interdependent creatures of the wild that have survived for thousands of years, long before man inhabited this area.
It is as well to remember that the Adivasi Villages or Pollebadda, Nilobe, Rathmalgaha Ella, are almost in view from my perch up top at the top of the hill, the highest point on this trail that connects the main roads going between Kandy and Battcaloa on one side and Bibile and Ampara on the other side. This pathway is 22 km long, but has changed beyond recognition in my lifetime.
I was born when DB Wijetunge was the President and therefore don’t remember him as he was in office for such a short time, so it was the rule of Chandrika Kumaratunge, Mahinda Rajapakse and Maithripala Sirisena that I do remember.
The rapid destruction of the forests I live in took place under the Rajapakse Presidency. He had his goons cut down the forests and remove all the tall trees that I used to perch from and could have a commanding view of the whole area, for miles around me, as far north as the Maduru Oya Reservoir and as far South as the Gal Oya Reservoir over the Nilgiri Hills.
Now there is not one Ebony Tree left, as the Pradeshiya Sabhas under his rule along with the Local Police, took care of that, and worse you only have to come here to see the widest bridge in the South, that connects a ten foot dirt road, to another ten foot dirt road, it has to be seen to be believed, just so that someone could earn a big fat commission that even today, the Veddah community are called upon to pay for from the taxes charged on their very essentials like sugar.
|The widest bridge in the south, built on a tiny dirt road !|
Before the trees were cut the Adivasi community could just live on selling Bees Honey, now there are hardly any bees as the flowering trees that were tall and extensive have been singled out and chopped illegally to fill someone’s lust for the filthy lucre. I am at my wits end on how the Human Mind works, as the politicians simply play upon a person’s greed, and not on a person’s sense of pride as a citizen that wishes to live in harmony with the surroundings.
I see the breakdown in true religious traditions, when people are given land by the politicians as favors for helping them out, and what does that do? These people who are cultivating around me, are suffering due to this noose on their necks, IT IS CALLED FREE LAND. This land which they cannot sell, does not yield any income, and the people are forever in debt to the money lenders, thanks to the politicians giving this cursed land, as it has taken our food from us, it has prevented the elephants who used to live in the forest from going there and neither does it provide any means of living off the land, as it is not a case of giving money to a man to farm, a man has to know the ABCs of farming, and it is just those people who have no clue unlike the local Adivasi on how to live with the land, who are given land as political favors.
Who can I explain simple facts of life to, the humans who fool the people that land is needed for farmers, when half the farmers don’t even farm their land? They leave it fallow, while more forests are cut, ostensibly to farm, but in reality, a few political goons to cut trees and profit from it, both denuding the land for us, birds, and much of the wildlife, now hunted in these areas, as well as few majestic tuskers who have been killed by poachers for their tusks. This, in the 25 years of my life, covering my area of no more than 500 sq km.
It is time that Sri Lanka had some truly enlightened leaders to see the folly in this farming exercise of marginal lands, to put back at least a million hectares of land back to the forest by an exercise of growing native trees in a manner that will ensure their survival, that is not just plant and leave, first plant with shade so the hardwood trees can take root, and then be allowed to get to a size they are not destroyed by elephants in search of scarce fodder for survival.
In my opinion, the area here, which was opened up by the Mahinda Rajapakse agricultural plans, must be reversed. Yes, they built a few tanks and repaired others, so that the water from Rambakan can go there, but as the Adivasi only know too clearly, it is just the village fields that can be protected from marauding elephants in the time tested manner, and the new fields, though enclosed by electric fences are simply cultivated on elephant corridors that don’t make any sense, as the harvests, and ensuing revenues, don’t cover the costs.
In a country where jobs are not scarce and there is a desperate shortage of people to do the jobs that are available, it makes no sense to force these people, YES ENSLAVE them to the land, just to fulfill a political game of power greedy traitors? If you don’t believe me why don’t you come and see for yourself the folly of these two bit politicians who have fooled the poor farmers who have not benefited at all since Independence, and my Dad was born before Independence, and he can attest that the farmers were in fact better off than they are now. Something is seriously wrong, and IT MUST BE CHANGED.