Monday, May 29, 2017

170 Dead and still counting – It is time to take stock Mr President and do what is needed, NOT what is popular!

The ONE DAY of rain on May 26th 2017 seems to have caused an unexpected calamity of deaths in ALL the affected districts primarily of earthslips of one sort or another caused by the rain, that came down in buckets within a short period, and not by drowning in the resulting floods.

It is now accepted that this is to be blamed NOT as an ACT OF GOD, but due to man’s own destruction of the environment. I do not wish to comment here on the complete unpreparedness of the Disaster Relief Ministry to cope with this situation as that is another topic. I wish to concentrate on a means of keeping the public aware of their own status vis a vis potential hazards and the necessary precautions that MUST be taken in order to minimize the loss of life in future.

We know there are too many public servants, but too little for the important tasks that they are responsible for, but have not been sufficiently resourced! It then begs the question “why aren’t the resources properly allocated to meet the needs of the Public who these SERVANTS are required to protect?”

It is this latter question that I will concentrate on as it relates to the avoidance of THE LOSS OF LIFE arising from a relatively small amount of rain. Just imagine if it had rained continuously for three days! DO we then assume the loss of life would exceed 500? That is the issue THAT MUST BE TACKLED immediately and IS NOT addressed in the Media or by any of the pundits be they experts or in Govt. responsible for alerting the public to the dangers lurking

It is NO secret and frankly commonly accepted by the people that the landslides are now occuring due to the destruction of the land, by quarrying, cutting mountains for soil and removing the trees that keep the soil together. IF that is so, then it is NO secret that this problem will get worse and NOT better. Let us me mindful that loss of life occurred in MANY places all at once and NOT one huge earthslip. This means that the land is severly degraded and this problem with only get worse and NOT better.

The science of earthslips is now advanced, and there is a public organization called the NBRO that alerts people to the areas that are prone to earthslips. My recommendation is thus! We IMMEDIATELY map all the GN divisions in the Country, requesting the GNs (Grama Niladaris) to map out initially the areas within their purveiw that are most likely at risk of earthslips or poorly constructed retaining walls meant to hold back such earthslips.

Once this database is computerized, the Govt. should direct the necessary resources by seconding public servants in areas that they are NOT productive in to independently verify these areas and perhaps spot others that have NOT been identified by the GNs as a FIRST STEP, as a matter of independent verification and for them to color code initially into three categories of severity or likelihood of immediate calamity, if the soil is saturated.

THEN EVERY HOUSEHOLDER KNOWS their plight, and when a warning is issued, know that if they do not vacate they are in danger of dying! It is in the public’s interest that this step be taken, as otherwise householders are living in serious danger, and any more rain in this monsoon season means we have NO idea who will fall victim, and the victims themselves are unaware of the DANGER THEY ARE CURRENTLY IN.

This plan must be implemented without delay if we are to reduce the loss of life from minor rains, and NO TELLING what will happen if we have extended rains where soil saturation could conceivably cause untold level of earthslips.

One problem I foresee with this plan is that the recipients themselves DO NOT wish to have their homes SO CATEGORIZED as it will affect the value of their homes. By extension, when they want to value or sell their home, they will be asked to furnish what category their home is or if it is NOT given, this information will be freely available through the Fredom of Information Act, and so will be common knowledge as this database is essential for planners, disaster relief and for obtaining building permission etc.

It is therefore going to be the very people who are most seriously affected who will not wish this proposal to go through because of this fear. Frankly, they would prefer to die in a landslide than get their home categorized and known publicly as in danger of being destroyed by an earthslip!

It is therefore essentail that the President, in the interests of public safety use his power, NOT TO PLAY POLITICS and implement this in the public interest.

One important point regarding landslides and floods that MUST not go unnoticed, and that is those who suffer are always the poorest in our midst, and those who cause the landslides and floods are some of the richest in our midst. It is therefore very important that the mass destruction of forests, and the constructions that obstruct the natural flow of rivers and streams, that have led to the problem are prevented in the future, and all illegal constructions removed. A rapid reforestation plan MUST put in place, and people discouraged from building homes in future, in areas that are prone to landslides by NOT permitting them or re-zoning land for forest ONLY. (public or private)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

PM Modi a showman of the first order – knows how to WOW an audience!

I am ashamed as a Sri Lankan that after 70 years of Independence, we have NOT been able to integrate the people of Indian descent into the Sri Lankan family that they are now an integral part of. Those who like the joker/traitor Sarath Weerasekera who seeks to divide the communities to say that Modi should give equal status to the different communities is dreaming in technicolor, as it is people like him, who have done their utmost in NOT bringing together the one Sri Lanka concept by NOT integrating all people who live here into the fabric of Sri Lanka, that enabled Modi to use the event to maximize his political capital here and back home in India among the Tamil community who even in India are difficult to unite under the India banner at best!

Let us NOT mix Modi and our inadequacies and try and say that Modi by his behavior treats Sri Lanka as just another province of India! Remember, how Modi wants to treat Sri Lanka is HIS prerogative, he is first and foremost the Prime Minister of India and his political survival depends on the people of India NOT Sri Lanka. If it is perceived by the Indians that he is stamping his authority on Sri Lanka, that is his right, if we give him the opportunity. Don't our politicians also try to get photo ops with Royalty and foreign leaders to boost their failures and have them printed on the front page?

India built the hospital in Dickoys because we did not build it. If we built it we would NOT invite him to open it. You cannot have your cake and eat it. Similarly we did not build the Hambantota Port, China did. If the Chinese did not give Rajapakse the loan under terms that Rajapakse exploited for his political capital we would NOT have a Harbor in Hambantota to argue about.

The moral of this story is that the politicians in Sri Lanka be they representing the Estate Sector or the TNA, or Muslim Congress or some of the Sinhala Buddhist. UPFA or UNF are bent on dividing this Country to only help their own people. In this regard they create division and will not work towards integration of the one Country Concept that is essential for this Country to go forward as one Nation, to improve the quality of life of ALL WHO LIVE HERE, the philosophy I have been fighting for all the years since I returned to Sri Lanka in 2004 after 33 years overseas, determined that we can unite under one flag if we all put aside our personal prejudices and put Country before self.

I have come to the conclusion that MOST politicians as referred to above put self before country and therefore find causes that fool the uneducated people, who are not learned but fed by fools to become fools, and therefore follow bankrupt policies that ensure their survival. (the current class of politician is well nurtured in this environment and so does not want to upset his equilibrium)

My point in this essay is to show how easy it is for a foreign politician to come to Sri Lanka and score brownie points in his Country, by this superb act of showmanship, right under our noses, because the jokers or traitors who have exploited these divisions have allowed a sense of insecurity for minorities and majorities alike to wallow in self pity, and so endear themselves to whoever purports to represent their interests more than the locals, and in this instance, PM Modi was that savior.

Worse we are still allowing India to build homes for our citizens, and his offer of 10,000 homes was accepted as we just cant organize a piss up in a brewery to build one house, when their homes collapse after a landslide! Look at the Koslanda tragedy of recent times if we want an example of what I am talking about. No wonder our politicians are perpetuating this problem NOT solving it.

Whether or not Modi should have been invited to SL in the first place is one to be debated another day in a different essay, but under the Modi glow our corrupt, incompetent politicians flocked to his after-glow to be in his shade like babies craving the mother’s warmth, without allowing him to do his bit as is his want alone!

Worse, if we had truly patriotic politicians they will NOT even get close to Modi, giving him time to meet the best of Sri Lankans in all fields, from the Arts, Business, and Science to show off our talent as a Country that can stand with India shoulder to shoulder, and not be submissive. Indians look on our politicians as buffoons but on our talented individuals as world class! Why not show our strengths, not our weaknesses. Every other country does.

Let the bogus Dian Jayatilleke’s of this world wollow in dreams of subjugation, which his own ilk have created in the first place, and write divisive pieces of prose to exact some vicarious revenge on his purported enemies.

The reality is we are a proud nation with many accomplishments of men and material, blessed with a natural resource beyond comparison, in which most of the wealthy of the world would wish to live, BUT which has been let down by incompetent leaders, media figures and politicians of all colors, who would never be employed by the private sector even as security guards, and have ruined this Country from Garbage dumps to Garbage thoughts to Garbage ideas to being the Garbage wordsmiths that have filled the heads of our brightest citizens with Garbage thoughts!

The day will dawn, and I trust it will be sooner rather than later, when we don’t allow others to steal the limelight from us, but act as equal partners of a brilliant nation held to a high standard by the rest of the world, and when that day dawns, there will be NO politicians as we know today, around to litter the land with their Garbage. 

When this movement removes forever by a TSUNAMI, the politicians and pundits who live off the people for their own survival, only the Country will BENEFIT!