As usual we are a nation of procrastinators. We leave for tomorrow what we can do for today, and then find tomorrow blocked by a flood! Or change of minister.
Well Tissa Jayaweera’s article in the Daily Mirror of 5th of June 2018, amply illustrates what we should be doing immediately.
He is right. We have so many tanks, at least 10,000 that need de silting, and we have been talking about this for as long as I remember. I know when Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the JVP was agriculture minister for a brief period, was it around 2005? That was what was promised to uplift the rural economy. Did that happen?
Firstly we need to prioritize, where there is going to be the maximum bang for the buck in terms of productivity. Surely, we have knowledgeable people on the ground to advise on that. BUT NO, we will hand the money as a largesse on political grounds and possibly waste it. People are probably eyeing this money to spirit away by putting big figures in contracts and then NOT performing with inadequately qualified staff asked to prepare progress reports.
Why is it taking so long? I know our village tank in Ratmale has had at least 5 reviews over the past 30 years, to assess the Cost Benefit of diverting Minneriya water to ensure that the village can do two seasons of paddy. At present they are not able to do the second season this year, due to lack of water, whereas thanks to the Moragahakanda Project there is sufficient water to do this season in all the paddy lands fed by the Minneriya Tank. If the canal had been done, there would have been sufficient water to be sent through so the village could engage in paddy cultivation.
I am not saying to do so, I want the authorities to prioritize and if we don’t make the cut, then it is tough. However I want them to independently assess the situation in the best interests of the country and not in the interests of friends family or bribery.
I have commented recently on the enormous amount of land in Sri Lanka that has been cleared, but no cultivation is done on it for many reasons, and we need to take stock of this, determine who needs help, what sort, and once helped, we must also evaluate the productivity of our efforts to help the farmers, so we learn from them for the future, a task hardly ever done by the overstaffed Public Sector.
The latter is essential, as otherwise officers cannot properly understand the nature of the projects for which large sums are passed and spent, with little or NO return to the village it is supposed to assist, and help rise up to the potential.