16 April, 2024


Horses To Water

By Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

All of our experience after events catastrophic events point to the inability of the bureaucracy to adapt to changing times and be abreast of current information. If they did, they would know that tunneling in the fractured rocks of the Poonagala range could lead to disasters like the massive landslide experienced Meeriyabadde the drying up of wells around Bandarawela. The environmental Impact Report that cleared the infamous Uma Oya diversion project has not addressed any of these possibilities. If the bureaucrat or so-called ‘scientist’ who wrote this, does not have an education sufficient to understand these needs for national security, it will be easy for him to approve projects in the interest of the ‘investor’. The investor has become somewhat of a holy figure. One, whom we should not frighten away or criticize. One, without whose investment, we will slide into economic darkness. So these people would sacrifice the wellbeing of our motherland in the service of their ‘investment’ gods, telling us that if they do not do so, we are doomed to an economic hell.

Another amazing piece of public effrontery are the recent advertisements calling for designs for the Port City. While it is public knowledge that a phase 2 EIA MUST be submitted for approval before any construction begins. The businessmen are laying the foundations. There has been no outcry from the bureaucrats charged with the duty of obtaining such an EIA and approving it before any activity begins on the filled land. That silly lopsided argument that “we are contractually bound’ can only have validity if the contract did not break the laws of the land. In the case f the ‘port city’, the operators have flouted the laws of this land over and over again. Yet the voice boxes of the businessmen, the politicians, tell us, ‘oh, we have contractual obligation’. To add insult to injury, the operators are pumping toxic marine sediment with their landfill, without any assurance as to the effect of the dust created thereby. The mere fact that activity is allowed before any of these lapses in law have been addressed is a slap in the face of the Sri Lankan public and an indictment of our legal system.

And have course the floods! At one time about three years ago, when I was requested to suggest and advise on the proposed mega urban constructions. I suggested that: it should be ‘A cadenza of urban centers joined by a high-speed efficient, non-fossil transportation system. Each urban center located and identified within a watershed. The maximal sustainable yield of ecosystem services of each watershed will be the defining parameters of growth for each center. Each center will strive to develop the primary production of that watershed to its highest value. Each center will pay the producers of the ecosystem services within their particular watershed.’

1. The most efficient high-speed transport is the electrically driven rail or monorail systems. Fast and efficient, the only drawback is the number of users to make its operation cost effective. Thus transporting between major urban centers would seem to fulfill this need in Sri Lanka. Once a transport backbone has been built using this system, the second level need or transport local should be handled by electrically driven taxis, three wheelers etc. The current technology will enable the construction of solar collectors along the line and at the urban hubs. As much of the transport is active during the day, these collecting units could feed the grid and/or set up charging capacity at the docking sites where the passengers change to local transport.

2. Sri Lanka being an island with a radial drainage system has well identified watersheds, many of which have been studied extensively. The collection of baseline data for each watershed in which an urban center will be developed will crate a definable boundary for each center, where the center will be responsible for the development of the total watershed and the percentage of impervious surfaces allowed.

3. As each watershed has a set amount of water discharge and as a set quantity of water will be required for production and conservation in the rural sector. A maximal extractable limit should be established, a similar study and limits set for impervious surfaces, air quality and biomass.

4. Each center will often be located in areas that produce unique primary products with future high value applications. It could be mineral as in the case of Mineral sands or Graphite, or agricultural, as in the case of spices and high value phytochemicals. The value adding industries should be encouraged and supported to begin r&d and identify the center as a center of excellence
The health and well being of all persons living within a watershed depends on the volume of ecosystem services being produced in the watershed. Thus it is just to pay for the ecosystem services the center enjoys. With the current drive to give a value for ecosystem services globally and with the statements that are being made in this regard by the President. Computing an ES payment based on ESP’s could bring in the rural segment of the watershed as a full partner of the center.

5. But of course the bureaucrats ignored these concerns and proceeded to give permits to industrialize and urbanize. They ignored a central tenant in urbanization was paying attention to the creation of impervious surfaces and drainage. Filling the wetlands and building nilly willy without attention to water flow and drainage in bound to create conditions right for flooding. (Fig 1). This should be obvious to anyone, but for some strange reason the Mega foolish bureaucrats, seem to be blind to this reality. It will be interesting to see how long after the flood event, it will take, for the ministry to begin giving more approvals for filling of wetlands for the creation of impervious surfaces after the flood has become a memory for most of us. Fig 1. The increase of impervious surfaces with increasing urbanization.

Another area of public interest, which has been entrusted to the bureaucrats, is the quality of air that we breathe. The atmosphere of the planet and its gas distribution is assumed to be more or less homogenous, Oxygen being present t 20.9at 20.9 % and a minimum of 19% has to be maintained for human well-being. However the reality created by unplanned urbanization has manifested islands with low levels of oxygen concentration. The normal levels of concentration of Oxygen which is about 20.9 % in now demonstrating dips to 19% over impacted areas and is down to 12%-17% over certain cities. The world trend is obvious in cities with many trees such as in Alabama U.S.A it is 21% -19%. In cities with very low greenery and heavy industrialization urbanization such as: Mexico City it is 17% – 14%. Yet no baselines are being set for Colombo, which could see their Oxygen levels plummet if air quality is not addressed in the EIA for the 2nd phase of the port city.

The dishonesty of and greed of the bureaucrat – business -politician nexus (BBP) has perverted government. The continuation of tunneling after the Miriyabedde disaster, demonstrates the callousness of these people, using the cloak of ‘signed contracts’ bamboozle the public until the local wells began to run out. Houses cracked from their foundations but the response from the scientific advisers ‘Pay some compensation “. How much compensation should be paid for loosing an aquifer that once fed dozens of wells ? One that sustained generations of people in the Uva, how much? Like the monkey with the shaving razor the BBP is at work. They are now looking at every part of the nation to offer up on their altar.

If we allow the Megafoolish to destroy the future for the next generations, through the most bankrupt notion of growth through compromising national resources that other nations do not want to compromise, we will only have ourselves to blame.

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  • 5

    An Excellent article by Dr. RS.——– Before adding my two cents in support of your concerns, I have to voice my consternation of a Cabinet Paper.<<<<< The Cabinet has granted approval to a US company (CDVCA) to razing 62,500 acres of Wildland in "Uva-Wellassa" to grow sugarcanes!!!——- Isn't it absurd to cut down and burn rainforests in Sri Lanka to grow sugarcanes and pollute the environment with sugar-mills to produce biofuels (Ethanol)?<<<<< I am failed to understand the reason for us to sacrificing a massive 62,500 acres of Wildlands in "Uva Wellassa" which is regarded as a land of historical heritage, ancestrally agricultural, salubrious environment, mesmerizing panorama of forest strips with indigenous trees, a safe natural habitat for 52 varieties of animals along with 150 varieties of birds, naturally beautiful grasslands and savannahs, to make a US multinational company rich?<<<< I invite Environmentalists, Patriots and Native Folks in the country to join hands with the Nationalist Political Leaders and Ruralfolks of “Uva Wellassa” to protect our Wildlands from being "massacred" which will eventually contribute for drought, dry aquifers, landslides, distorted rainfall patterns and global warming.

    • 3

      Dr Ranil Senanayake,————————————————————————-
      RE: Horses To Water——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
      “The dishonesty of and greed of the bureaucrat – business -politician nexus (BBP) has perverted government. “————“If we allow the Megafoolish to destroy the future for the next generations, through the most bankrupt notion of growth through compromising national resources that other nations do not want to compromise, we will only have ourselves to blame.”——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
      Thanks for the write up. What would you expect in a Land occupied by Para from India whose Average IQ is 79? Why are you expecting miracles from these Paras? Just look at the history, and the data, and the recent data you are referring to..—————————————————————————————————————-Ever since the Paras landed illegally from India, Bharat, Damba-Diva, the Land had been curse by the Para Languages and Para beliefs. Right now one Para-Indian -Sinhala Monk, calling himself “Buddhist”, is running amok and going berserk, and this is indeed an Insult to the Buddha from India. Earlier, a Para-Sinhala “Buddhist” Monk Mahanama wrote a Chronicle called Mahwansa that was an Insult to the Buddha.———————————————————————————————REFERENCES:————————————————————————————-
      National IQ Scores – Country Rankings : Countries are ranked highest to lowest national IQ score. ————————————————————————-
      Rank ——– Country ———————– % ————-
      Singapore 108 South Korea 106 Japan 105 Sri Lanka(Paras) 79——————————————————————————————————————
      Mahavamsa- An Insult To The Buddha!——By Sharmini Serasinghe –——————Caution- The following is more suitable for the broad-minded and the wise. Others are kindly advised to pass!————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Wonder if ours might have been a wiser, and a more ‘humane’ society, had our ‘ancient’ history, been based on Aesop’s Fables, instead of the Mahavamsa. For if not for the Mahavamsa, the Sinhalese may not have been endowed, with the reputation, of “Sinhalaya Modaya (The Sinhalese are Fools)”!————————————————————————————————In this “wonderland” called Sri Lanka, and in this day and age, one still comes across ‘academically’ educated, and supposedly intelligent ‘Buddhists’, but sadly lacking in wisdom, who reverently believe, that the Buddha walked out of his mother’s womb, and walked seven steps, while lotuses blossomed, under his feet!———————————————————————https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/mahavamsa-an-insult-to-the-buddha/

  • 3

    Dr. R.S,
    You are casting pearls before swine.
    As long as the people elect 94 mutts who have not passed the O Level as their MPs, there is no hope for this nation.
    They – mutts + citizens – simply cannot understand what you are saying.

    The mutts and some not-so mutts are busy lining their pockets, each getting Rs 50 Million from sale of car permits, and going abroad on paid holidays.
    All state enterprises are loosing funds daily, and this cannot be corrected.
    The largest chunk of the budget is for propping up the peacetime armed forces who are busy on pursuits other than what they were trained for.
    No one talks about this, as the armed forces really run this government from behind the façade of democracy.
    Soon, the international debt of the nation will be so huge that one day there will be no funds to pay public servants and there will be a massive ‘crash’ like what happened in many countries.

  • 1

    All right thinking people will share the concerns raised by Ranil Senanayake. Some commenters have labelled our MPs as “mutts” and whatever. They are geniuses. They are getting richer by the minute – catch them if you can! Last week “The Island” reported that the luxury condos are bought off unaccounted wealth. The “Megafoolish” is needed to wash black to white in the casinos, the brothels to keep the drug trade and so on.

  • 0

    The soil liquefaction and landslides due to human activity have come to an increased level due to excavation, deforestation and land use for construction, totally neglecting the environmental factor in the country.<<<< When approving the Port City project even at the 2nd phase, the Ocean Floor Topography was completely neglected. What is in the sea under the Port City?—– On the other hand, the blockage of seawaves in Colombo across the sea will cause serious impacts on the Southbound coastal areas.—- Any possibility of rising sea levels among other things?<<<<< Sri Lanka already suffers from natural coastal erosion. The Port City will pave the way for a man-made coastal erosion in the South due to increased pressure in already harsh Indian Ocean seawaves. Why doesn't anybody in the government care? <<<<<< The environmental factor and protecting our natural resources should seriously be considered at the next Presidential and General Elections.<<<<< The Voters should inquire from Candidates of their vision and mission to safeguard our environment.—– The public outcry over the foreign invasion and aquisitiion of our lands, harbours, deforestation of virgin forests and development plans neglecting the environment with governmental patronage should also be decisive factors, among other concers, when we decide who sould take over the country in future.

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