20 January, 2021

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The Lament Of Wanathamulla “Evictees”

By Springer

The news that those living in low income urban settlements  will get alternative accommodation in high rise apartments, may really excite the average Sri Lankan of a less analytical mind. However the story is actually about not doing right, but using might. This is the usual cruel and boorish behavior of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his abetters in the now infamous UDA. The acronym UDA can be changed from Urban Development Authority to Unauthorised Demolition Action.

In yet another move to evict residents of these settlements, abjectly unjust treatment is being dished out to over 2500 families. This is in the location of Wanathamulla, Borella in Colombo 8 and includes the 34th , 45th , 49th, 51st , 63rd  and 66th  “wattes” or sections as well as those residents on Saranapala Himi Mawatha. The relatively affluent and powerful who bum suck the regime live in Section C and are not very much under threat.  Many of these 2500 families, have proper deeds given to their forefathers under Municipal Housing Schemes. The houses though small in extent have seen substantial value addition, over several generations. Some of these units are valued at sums to the tune of 4 to 5 million.

Gotabaya

Gotabaya

The decision to sweep the people out of their homes comes in the wake of another sell out of prime land, to earn money for the state as coffers are empty. These kinds of deals also bring in millions as commissions to the ruling family and their minions. Yet another reason of course is to enhance the value of lands already grabbed or bought at ridiculously low prices, most often by force by the Raja clan. An up market capital city like Sydney or even Singapore adds value to the lands that it contains. Most people do not see this angle of Gota and why he annexed the UDA under the most unlikely of Ministries, to control it.

Many of the older people who wish to spend the twilight of their life are totally devastated as it is like drowning in the ocean. The ocean here is the insurmountable force of the military and a ruthless Gota. He is said to meet the people regularly, threatening them and being rude, continuously.

One such event where he was really rude and threatening was said to be on the 3oth of January 2014, where people had been notified on printed slips of paper to come to the Exhibition and Convention Centre in Fort. Though this was meant to be a dialogue with the residents, when each person got up to speak, they had received different responses. To one person he had said “Kanata Gahanawa” – I will hit you on your ear, to another young man who said he could not afford to pay for a new unit, he had insultingly offered a job in the Army! Promises empty promises! Gotabaya had been in the area yesterday as well, in his usual threatening manner stating that they would have to move by the beginning of March 2014.

The modalities of this eviction is in the guise of offering alternatives in the form of “flats”, in a new block, Mihindusenpura, next to the well known Sahaspura, low income apartments, in Colombo 9, next door. These alternatives are smaller than the smallest houses that some people live – 380 square feet. Construction is said to be dangerously sub standard. On close observation it is seen that the slab holding each floor is only 2.5 inches thick. The “cement” block stones expand when put into water. What is the situation of the residents when rains come down on this structure? The corridor between two sets of facing apartments is said to be 4.5 feet. This creates serious access as well as safety and privacy issues, with a host of other variables such as abuse and violence against women and girls. Many of the women residents earn a living through either making food to sell or other cottage industries at home such as sewing. Their lament is the loudest. The space inside the houses are so small, the tiny kitchen is unbelievable. It is the women who are impacted the most. As women in any Society spend a longer time in the house. The “apartments” are a disaster of health and sanitation. One has to enter the toilet, sit on the commode and then close the door. Besides being impossible to engage in ablutions, it is a nightmare to clean. The parents of young girls say that living in Mihindusenpura is a cocktail for gender based violence. There is only one life that works and girls have to use this one lift in close proximity to those who could be easily abusive.

Adding insult to this grave injury is that people have to actually “pay” for this alternative that they never requested. Some residents are almost suicidal at having to pay Rs 100,000 initially in two instalments and Rs 4,000/month thereafter for 20 years. Residents should actually be compensated for what they are loosing and it is not for them to pay, what seems to be nearly Rs 1 million for each unit.

Thilanga Sumathipala, MP has taken some part of this bullying, saying people have to move and it is only a question of time. What right has Sumathipala to say this?  Has this team explored the legalities and understood them thoroughly? Even squatters have to be given housing under basic human rights law and principles of prescription.

Quite cunningly some months ago, the UDA has asked the residents to fill in a form “requesting” alternate housing. Smart residents and community leaders saw through this and advised their neighbours not to fill this form. As is the usual Sri Lankan practice of never uniting for any cause, some filled this form and submitted it. Filling such a request would have been the easiest path to eviction for the UDA as it would be shown as a voluntary move.

So what do the people of this community request? Easy answer. Alternate housing which is of better quality and larger area than what they are living in now. They are willing to pay on these terms and would  move out.

Will Gota and UDA show another way? Civil Society should step in before it is not too late to save the people and this situation.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    16

    wow really . I have seem those slums these people live in . anything is an improvement from that . typical gon takatheruwa looking the gift horse in the mouth .

    • 11
      3

      Why is the Asian Development Bank and World Bank giving MEGA LOANS to Gota the Goons UDA and Ministry of Offence for the militarization of Sri Lanka? Colombo is a giant military cantonment today to prevent regime change and displace poor people..

      Time to hold World Bank and ADB that preach “good governance” but lack transparency, accountable!

      What are the NGOs and people’s organization doing about the illegal displacement of poor and vulnerable people in a massive land grab called “development”? What is the JVP and dead left doing re. a people’s tribunal and protests outside these Banks by the people who are being displaced from their homes in Colombo..

      • 3
        17

        Colombo is a giant military cantonment today? are you living in Sri Lanka? Military has commenced moving out of Colombo!

        • 1
          4

          Are you suggesting Colombo WAS a giant military cantonment? They just commenced their outbound movement, you conceded!

      • 1
        9

        When people like Dude Cruz become worshipers of hatred, we can only see this type of good-for-nothing comments!

      • 0
        1

        dude cruz, ngos are only interested in making money and the ADB and others are not interested in justice. There it is, pure and simple. Are you surprised? Come on! Honestly!

    • 11
      1

      Abhaya,
      You should be knowing about those white clothed, scary looking bodyguards of Duminda.. Are they police or personal thugs? Duminda’s walk with those ugly thugs remind us Colombian or Mexican drug lords in 1980s… Colombia and Mexico are much more civilized now..

      • 1
        1

        silly lanka will be civilized too when this cursed family is gone for good then we all can proudly call it SRILANKA OUR MOTHERLAND.
        bangaveva the uncultured clan!
        bangaveva the uneducared rogues!!
        bangaveva the uncivilised beggars!!!

  • 2
    5

    A timely war fabrimentary coming soon.

    I understand that the latest Channel 4 movie on believable, but untrue, cruel and ghastly Sri Lankan genocide scenes of Tamils (taken by fake Sri Lankans) after the war is coming soon. Let it tear the masks of the embedded writers and analysts propping up the genocidal charges and their henchmen. These are the barbarians and the LTTE rump the writers want Tamils to believe in! Better to perish than living under the jack boots of these barbarians. This movie is made to be shown in Geneva in March 2014.

    The will to be free is still burning bright with the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

    • 4
      3

      Another LTTEr making multiple posts to advertise his dream. Just goes to show the LTTE are alive and well. The war is not over yet.

    • 1
      0

      please be careful when you use the term ‘genocide’ loosely as this has a clear meaning. Your own Northern CM warned against this loose talk.

  • 5
    0

    .
    Is this because Wanathamulla is (was) a Tamil speaking area?

    :-)

    • 2
      4

      Pillay the biased tamil women has missed this one on her report, stopping the re-settlement of low income families immediately and making sure people have the right settle wherever they want.

  • 5
    0

    UDA under the Ministry of Defence controlled by the Defence Secratary is not a very professional move, as MOD use it’s Military Power to clear land even given on legitimate deeds for New Developments of their choice. In 2005, I worked for the UDA as a Volunteer Construction Senior Project Manager for then Minister Hon Dinesh Gunawardena, handling Tsunami Reconstruction Programme and noticed that with my 30 years experience working in Developing countries, UDA is not equip to handle any developments. UDA lacka experience professionals of all the engineering, architecture and quantity surveying sectors to handle major projects. Due to the failure of the UDA Tsunami housing reconstruction failed miserably, and even with our teams efforts we failed to resurrect the programme.
    Now Gotabaya without any knowledge of Construction Development may be riding rough shod and trying to develop the lands not belong to the UDA. We need to provide housing at affordable cost for all citizens in Sri Lanka, and under the UN charters signed by the government this is a must. To do this the government should construct houses with MINIMUM floor area of 550 sq. ft at low cost( not Low cost unstable designs) to house these people and then acquire these lands after paying adequate Valuation values. If not very soon these poor people will take action against this government. .

  • 4
    0

    Time to learn a lesson from the North and teach these bunch of terrorists a lesson. Will it be possible with all election laws being violated by these company of rouges

  • 4
    0

    UDA which is a civil organisation has been brought under the MOD specially for the purpose of using the military force to evict people and acquire their properties. What cannot be done under the laws of the country is being forced by using the military. This is the situation not only in Colombo but in other regions especially in the North and East.

  • 7
    0

    Is the worm finally turning? Next time Kudu Duminda might not be this
    lucky. As to the poor who have lost their precious homes to greedy and heartless politicos, karmic action and divine intervention is not far away.

    Backlash

  • 3
    2

    Because older people get emotionally hurt, Vanathamulla should have left like slum houses in some Indian cities.

    Those Vanathamulla flats or Sri Lankan slums should have never been replaced.

  • 5
    0

    What right has a Govt servant to threaten voters? Why are the ministers silent? Why don’t the president consider the plight of these tenants?
    PLEASE BE HUMAN

  • 7
    0

    Urban Destruction Authority and the uncontrolable inhuman manipulative maniac Gootha. People should resist and refuse to budge. With UNHRC around the corner , this is the best time to protest and be heard internationally.
    These goons and greedy pigs are all out to make commissions, as if what they have already made is not enough. Rascals..

  • 3
    6

    The crocodiles are now crying for the low income families, like they seriously cared until they found out an opportunity to hit out at Gota.

    These are the same people who used to complain day and night about how messy Colombo is after the imperialists left and how gorgeous Singapore and Sydney is how “sinhala modayas” are not capable of getting Colombo straight. Now that Colombo is finally turning around they are complaining the eviction of slums. Like that is not how Singapore started.

  • 1
    1

    Baratha Lakshman was a very popular man in Wanathamulla , and his people are fiercely loyal to him.

  • 0
    3

    Why is the World Bank and Asian Development Bank and Japanese Govt. falling over themselves to give LOANs to the UDA and subsidize the defense ministry and militarization of Sri Lanka?
    These agencies preach “good governance” but practice the opposite. There is NO TRANSPARENCY or accountability with Gota the goon! WB and ADB are encouraging militarization, rather than say NO funds will be provided for urban renewal and development until UDA is handed back to civil administration authorities. De militarization should be the priority, but instead World Bank is giving billions to MOD to pay salaries of soldiers who are working as UDA labours and Victoria park sweepers while cutting down all the large trees.. in the name of city beuatification. Every square inch of Colombo is being paved and the city is being turned into a concrete and hideously HOT HOUSE!
    What a joke the World Bank and ADB’s good governance hot air is!

  • 3
    2

    There should be an INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE”S TRIBUNAL and INQUIRY into the World Bank and Asian Development Banks funding to the Ministry of Defense of Sri Lanka in violations of their own SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SAFEGUARDS!

  • 7
    1

    Sri Lanka is a rudderless ship taken over by pirates: The Rajapakse group, and might run aground soon.

  • 1
    6

    Sad though it maybe,this is the reality of development. At least the evictees have been given alternative dwellings with opportunities to improve their lifestyle.Otherwise, change will never come to their lives.

  • 5
    3

    Gota the dog is doing unthinkable,openly, no wonder they killed thousands of Tamils in North

  • 3
    0

    Aren’t these forcible, inhuman eviction adding up to HR violation charges leveled at this corrupt, idiotic govt.??

    Looks govt. does not really have brains.

  • 2
    7

    The people who oppose the shanty dwellers being moved to high rise buildings, are those who benefit by keeping these people in Shanties and get them to continue to indulge in Drug Trafficking (as police find it difficult to raid shanties), Prostituting and other nefarious activities. There are many politicians and businessmen who thrive on the shanty dwellers and if their are no shanties in the city it will be difficult for them to carry out their illegal money making activities. This reporter also seems to be in their payroll.

  • 3
    2

    Springer: The point or place where the curve of an arch or vault begins;

    “The news that those living in low income urban settlements will get alternative accommodation in high rise apartments, may really excite the average Sri Lankan of a less analytical mind. However the story is actually about not doing right, but using might. This is the usual cruel and boorish behavior of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his abettors in the now infamous UDA. The acronym UDA can be changed from Urban Development Authority to Unauthorized Demolition Action.” (Springer)

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensures a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world and the Article 25 thereof ensures the right of everyone to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including housing etc. This entails treating each individual as having a right to shelter.

    In the case of Springer, his housing problem appears to have been solved with decorative springers inside. He may be a law abiding citizen paying all taxes and he sure to expect good surroundings to enjoy life within and without his abode. It is good to see people of the caliber of Springer talking on behalf of the less analytic minds.

    It was not GR or the UDA who started urban housing programmes. It was the late Prez R Premadasa. The NHDA developed Gunasinghepura and there were no questions about relocation. The UDA built house to relocate dwellers from Sanchiarachchiwatta to build Superior Courts Complex and build houses in Peliyagoda to relocate dwellers from low lying lands. No issues of relocation. The SLLR&DC cleared canal banks and relocated the families dwelling on canal banks.Still no issues.

    During CBK Regime the concept of adding value to land occupied by squatters. The first project implemented was Sahaspura. Intervention of local MMCs prevented families from vacating the temporary shelter and the project was not successful.

    The present programme is continuation of previous programmes. Now the private sector has also moved in. There are housing projects in Colombo South implemented by the private sector without state intervention at all. In Slave Island the dwellers owned the properties and they all agreed to vacate. The developer is paying them rent for two years. In the case of other sites the dwellers squat but they will become proud owners of a marketable “permanent” house.

    Of course the UDA has stepped in to demolish unauthorized structures. It is done after obtaining court orders as was done during previous regimes. Local Authorities failed in this exercise. May be the Springer was not born then or he is a Local Councillor with fears of losing the voters. If he feels that the current urban regeneration and relocation policies are wrong and sees injustice he should come forward and help to correct it and help to create a win-win situation for all.

    He should first check whether his abode was built legally and there were no unauthorized additions or alterations after obtaining the CoC. The content of the article indicates that the writer wants the informal settlements to remain same and the state should not intervene to create livable urban environments.

    Comments are open for debate.

  • 3
    2

    Its amazing that this writer Springer categorizes filthy joints in Wanathamulla and the like areas as low income urban settlements. Truth is far from it. Actually they are all unhygienic filthy joints with no proper drains or toilet facilities. They are more than an eyesore to the budding city of Colombo. They are the foremost breeding dens for drug addicts and various types of criminal elements. Only those with ulterior motive like thadi Karunanayake of UNP who lives in palatial houses would like to retain them political usage.

    The plan that Gota has come up to clear the dirty shanties was in the cards with all governments for a long time. But no previous government could implement it for the lack of right personality to head it or the finances or both to proceed with a rapid program to build an alternative accommodation for those that were displaced.

    Sometime back, Man-Gala tried to do the job. But Bandit Queen’s government didn’t have the necessary finances. He started the job by removing illegal roadside joints that were blocking pavements and roofs that were dangerously lean to pavements in Colombo but had to move down to Matara and do a bit there for either he was incapable to handle the ruffians in Colombo or the bandit queen’s regime never had the money.

    This time however, in spite of crocodial tears by opportunistic wolves, the job of clearing shanties and providing the occupiers with a better accommodation is proceeding at a rapid phase. 380 square feet may not be a large area but it is bigger than what they had. Moreover, each unit consists of proper access, sanitation and cooking area. Only a stupid would demand compatible accommodation to that in Singapore. What is important is, as the President said the other day, all shanty dwellers will have better accommodation soon and we shall see the end of an era of eyesores.

    Just like when Gota started to clear the pavements from pavement hawkers in Pettah and elsewhere for the benefit of the pedestrians, and beautify the suburb with proper parks and recreation areas public for the benefit of the mass, and solved the garbage problem for the benefit of the passerby and the residents, kudu dealers, their customers and infighting opposition politicians have come up with various shortcomings to criticize and sling mud at Rajapakses. But those who are neutral sees tremendous progress in the country as never before in every aspect.

    • 2
      1

      ‘..tremendous progress in the country as never before in every aspect’-
      Do you call shoving the poor out of their homes and bullying them ‘progress?’

      ‘ How can you expect a man who is warm to understand one who is cold?’
      (Alexandr Solzhenitsyn)

      • 1
        0

        Accordingly to your warped mind, does more slums mean more progress?

        • 2
          1

          The rate that Gota is building high rise flats, there will be no need for people to live in watta type joints where they lack basic human needs such as water and sanitation facilities. In another five years every one of those slum dwellers would be living in one of those flats.

  • 4
    2

    The poor and the non influential are getting squashed, the same thing happened in Salve Island, when the countries judiciary system is not independent the citizens have no say in affairs effecting their rights.

  • 2
    0

    THE SINGALA PEPOPLE ARE BRAIN WASHED TO THAT EXTENT THEY BELIVE EVERY THING IS DONE TO PROTECT FROM NOW HALF DEAD LTTE.RAJAPAKSAS SHOULD ACTUALLY ERECT A STATU FOR JUNIOR VELUPILLAI FOR CREATING A SITUTATION FOR THIS MEDAMULANA FAMILY TO DO WHAT EVER THEY WANT TO DO USING VELUPILLAIS NAME.AWAIT AND SEE THIS SAME WANATHAMULLA MODAYAS WILL VOTE FOR THIS SAME GOVERMENT IN THE PC ELECTION THINKING THAT THEY ARE LOOSING TEIR HOUSES BECAUSE OF GENEVA RESOLUTION.

  • 3
    0

    Very near future Gota will get the same treatment as Duminda.
    He got water bottles but Gota might get a dappi or a pineapple.

    • 3
      0

      Yes, not only Gota this Upasaka Balala – Udaya G, WW and everyone will deserve people^s retaliation. These buggers are a curse for the island nation.

      • 1
        2

        Srimal,
        Without Gota we would be having two nations in this island by now. Are a one who wanted it?

        • 0
          0

          That is giving too much credit for Gota. The war was always winnable for the last 25 years, we just needed a leader with the will and some IQ and a population that was backing the government no matter what until the goal was achieved.

          Not to take any credit away from Gota(or General Fonseka) but balancing the hypocritical west and turning down repeated calls for ceasefires were the hardest things.

  • 3
    0

    Dear Kothapaya, please evict Wellawatte.

  • 1
    0

    Not gota alone!
    With SF and other commanders and forces. Egocentric Gota has no insight nor does the nut loose mechanic!

  • 0
    1

    Going through responses in this blog and analysing the present population dynamjcs, it is apparent that the populatiin pyramid of adults in Sri Lanka can be dissected into different groups. At the Apex is the very small population of the ruling family and immediate beneficieries: they are not the least bothered to respond to the blog comments, so called human rights activists or the common man who protests on the streets. They have no conscience to their actions! None will directly address accusations such as those in this blog? They will use all the power they have, headed by the dreaded member of the Royal family the ‘aga Senpathi'(commander in chief) to control protests by all means such as what happened in Rathupaswela or to a lesser extent Wanatha, they will block websites, monitor websites and track the ‘disobedient’ or go to the extent of killings, disappearences etc etc to a greater effectiveness than the KGB or CIA!

    The next level would be the sanitary labourers who clean the Jara Passa’s (dirty bottoms) such as secretaries to ministries, ministers, editors of govt controlled papers (Rajpal, Milinda etc take note!) Etc etc…. They all benefit from the process! Mostly, economically, power base, fringe benefits, false sense of social stature, etc.

    Then there is another group of sanitary engineers who mastermind the processes of disposing dirt or manipulate corruption. They are adivisors both within and outside govt, while others may be expats who feel guilty of abandoning the country at some stage who may be lured by consultancies, feeling of being ‘identified and recognized’ by the Royal family and goons, limousine drives from the airport etc. Some of them may genuinely feel that there is progress (in roads and buildings….) or obligated to serve the country.. this is a very minute and a naive group.

    Then there are the people who are the main private sector wealth mobilizers, who for their personal gain of wealth including being ‘front-men) in laundering ill gotten national wealth and some drugs and alcohol lords or bookies, casino lords etc (look at the ‘richest’ in SL!). I am sure their inner conscience of the illicit processes are clear to them (or at least in twilight vision!), but yet money, power, corruption triad is more important. However, the Jarapassa’s have to be know that they will be the first to abandon when the the boat rocks! To them JR, Preme, Chandrika, Ranil Sajith or Ravi would not matter as long as they survive!!!

    Then we have a literate society that is anti govt at any rate! They are not progressive but will be against the ruling powers unable to recognise the good from the bad! They will also change their attack if the govt changes! The majority of ardent Pro LTTE diaspora is against anything and everything that is Sri Lankan, Sinhala or Buddhist: they would not want peace ! There may be some other minority groups in this group?? A few may have progressive ideas.The really honest people with principles are only a few. However they are unwilling or unable to give leadership to a struggle! Some would not want to side existing anti govt groups since that leadership will not allow a potential leader. They may be used as a third force to get power or in difficult circumstances but dumped in the end as what happened to Politically immature Fonny! The honest people would be unwilling to even vote for the opposition since the track record is poor!! This group can be considered as ‘orphans’! We the poor backed ‘ a horse’ but our horses were bought by the King! ( I wonder whether all theses horses and the kings men would be able to put humpty together again when / if humpty falls in the midst of jubilation!!)
    A fairly large group in the middle of the pyramid cannot or do not want to understand reality! These are mostly middle class selfish groups who feel “since we are not directly affected or marginally benifitted, why should we bother about anti corruption…!!! They have been primed not to get involved from childhood. Even if there is child abuse or murder next door, they would blatantly ignore and also teach their children not to bother! That is why we don’t (unlike Indians) take to the streets (often violently!) When there is rape, murder or impunity!! They would take to streets when they are PERSONALY affected such as in Weliweriya or Wanatha! It reflects the selfish trait in Sri Lankan’s. There has been some istances of mass protests although may not have been spontaneous but to some extent politically fuelled as was in the case of Gen. Fonseka’s unlawful arrest and CJ impeachment! However, State and Polu Hamuda repression subdued the uprising? The threat of bodily harm and life by State and Duminda/Mara-win, bookie Sumathi armies is a compounding factor in the the passive perpetration of violence and impunity in the country!

    The majority at the bottom of the pyramid are the lower middle class and low socio economic classes who will not use their heads when taking up issues or voting. They can be used by the other forces such as religion, ethnicity or a threat to the community (the LTTE used this strategy). The govt is using via BBS! The block votes of Muslims, Thonda or Tamil Diaspora in the UK by the British Parties, Candian white politicians and Jayalalitha in India use the same strategy! THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT GROUP THAT SWINGS THE VOTE! The R-passa’s are aware of this but probably not Ranil who does not understand personalities nor society and interactions in his narrow minded Autistic mind. We need a positive thinking progressive leaders not necessarily econimists who fail to interact. This is not a negative comment but food for thought. The rulers will rule as long as the opposition is divided and it is the reason why people think both Ranil and Sajith are paid by MR?? There is no proof … just speculation!
    Going back to Wanatha, it is good to make the sanitary and living conditions better! But the processes matter! We are not in a Stalinist era. Things cannot be and should not be imposed! Look at the positive side and balance the negative side without just protesting just because it is Gota’s!! Look at Colombo City! It is back to the Colonial Splendour, Although we protest against the Old Colonial master Cameron! That is only for the consumption of the poor masses while the rich enjoy the independence square! Both will get votes although paradoxical!

  • 0
    0

    This is some thing similar to fighting terrorism, because a bit of terrorism is always a part of Wanathamulla. That’s why civilian uthorities repeatedly failed to implement this project. That’s why some use of force is a must.
    That does not mean that every one in Wanathamulla likes it as it is.
    No, but they are just subjected to the same kind of force that some accuse secretary of UDA.
    Those who want’s to keep these hell holes as it is are mainly the lords of mafias who run thier illicit empires from these hell holes.
    The others are the likes of JVP who needs a down trodden class for them to represent and to enroll as their poster boy cadres. This time around, it seems, they are leading the proceedings.
    One thing is for sure. If it is not done this time it will never be done in this century.

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