The local priest, from the Temple adjoining my property, came to see me last night at dusk, while I was working at my desk, with the Candle being brought out, as the Chimney of the Lamp had broken in my home that has no Electricity!
He came to ask to cut the Kumbuk Tree in front of me in the Kumbuk Grove that had died in the primes of its life, for no apparent reason. He wanted the wood for the Temple, for his roof or some such, which for a start I found fishy, as he was accompanied by one whose history was questionable, and I was sure that there was some deal that used the guise of the Temple as cover.
I had made it known in the village, that I would not take kindly to the tree being cut, even though dead, as I was concerned that it was to be the first step in grabbing all the Kumbuk trees in the grove the only ones left uncut in the village!
Actually the land belongs to some state department, as a reservation, and I have no rights over the tree, but if truth be told, it is still easy to obtain the necessary form and signature to do the dirty deed as the locals still are of the view that if the rulers had the right to desecrate Polonnaruwa in the past 50 years to well-nigh desert status, then they should too.
This is a frontline lesson in the importance of our leaders to behave beyond reproach, so that others follow by example.
I have been here in Polonnaruwa for a little over 10 years and during this period have seen a huge amount of deforestation during that period, and most of it as a result of the intervention of the political leaders of the area.
In that sense I feel I am on the frontline, with no army to back me, facing a hidden enemy from all sides, waiting to seize every opportunity to make a buck by the easiest means possible, that is doing something illegal!
The law to them is merely an impediment to their economic upliftment, and can be taken care of for a payment. Until this sense of entitlement is removed from their minds, and sense of ownership of the environment created, (can now only be done with the children growing up today) we are likely to bequeath a desert unlivable, where in one generation we will succeed in destroying this pristine paradise, by our inaction, which no amount of wars and battles of the past succeeded.
Lets start by enshrining the right to clean water, air and food in the new constitution, so we may halt the ongoing destruction of the Environment.
The Kumbuk Grove with the dead tree being the tree from the left