Picture book beauty to development disaster
There is an area in the heart of Wellawatte, which was at one time a mini
jungle. This is the lowermost part of the Wellawatte canal, from the mills
upto the sea.
I have been taking this road past St. Peter's playground, along Sri
Dharmarama Road for 10 years to reach Galle Road from my house at Peterson
There were huge trees on both sides of the canal and often I could see
water monitors sunning themselves. I heard the call of the water-hens (korawakka)
and saw much birdlife including kingfishers, storks, magpies, mynahs and
bulbuls. The canal was full of fish. This area was like an illustrated
page from a fairytale.
Three to four years ago the canal was 'developed' by the Sri Lanka Land
Reclamation and Development Corporation. The first stage of development
was to cut down all the trees on the canal bank. Next, a concrete wall
was built on both sides, with huge stones and sheets of iron. Thus, my
"mini jungle" disappeared. This led to an imbalance in the environment.
The birds which could fly went to safer places. Other animals who lost
their habitat died of starvation. The water-hens disappeared. I have not
heard their call. Today only a handful of trees can be seen. Although there
was a mighty hurry to cut down all the trees, no one wants to plant a single
tree now. There are a few birds and animals even now who have braved death
The canal has also become a dumping ground, with the waste water of
the area being diverted there. The canal water is ink dark and has a foul
Garbage thrown into it includes kitchen refuse, plastic cans of all
shapes and colour and polythene bags. These finally flow into the sea and
the tide brings them back to the beach. The result is that the Wellawatte
beach is polluted.
The Land Reclamation Corporation and the Colombo Municipal Council should
replant trees on the canal banks. The MC should also release a few water-hens
to this area. I am sure the Dehiwela Zoo will be willing to assist.
The MC should impose fines on people who dump garbage into the canal.
This part of the canal should be declared a bird sanctuary. Birds and
trees do not ask for jobs, salaries, bonuses or housing complexes. They
only ask to be undisturbed by man. They want only the shelter of a few
St. Bridget's Convent
I watch you build a nest-
Beneath my window.
Flying back and forth-
Carrying sticks and straw
Until a shape like a bee-hive-
Hung beneath my window.
Your cheer chirping-
Makes me happy-
At night I lie in bed-
Feeling your presence nearby-
No more alone.
Days and nights pass-
And then a silence-
No more rustling,
No more singing-
Beneath my window.
You have flown from the nest
Without saying goodbye.
The abandoned nest-
Lies hollow, like my heart.
But for you I am glad-
That you found the freedom
To fly away.
Picture from the past
I am trying to find a photograph, picture, illustration of the Times of
Ceylon building in Colombo, built in 1936 by the architects Adam &
Small. This is for a reader of ours at Hampshire County Library in the
UK. Is there anybody out there who could help?
Through the beholder's eyes
Physical beauty has a strong influence on people. We have seen that cultures
develop various standards of beauty, but these standards change across
time and within various segments of culture. Thus, there can be broad disagreement
as to what is beautiful, and many factors can influence the judgement of
a particular person's beauty. The same person may also seem to be physically
attractive at one moment and unattractive the next.
If you are engaged in a heated discussion, you will probably see a person
who agrees with you as being physically attractive than someone who disagrees
with you. In fact, the person who disagrees with you may suddenly lose
his or her physical appeal.
Over time the appearance of another person's face or body may change.
Thus, if you get along well with someone, you may come to see him or her
as increasingly attractive over a period of time. In modern culture, wearing
glasses may reduce an individual's attractiveness - but not for long. A
person may react negatively to a person wearing glasses than to someone
who isn't. However, the negative effects of glasses disappear in about
five minutes. In this case people quickly learn to look beyond a superficial
Physical beauty may attract and repel. Good looks may make life more
pleasant and successful for the attractive person. At the same time, beauty
also may generate suffering and hidden resentment. The beautiful person
walks a special tight rope.
Dr. R.A.R. Perera
Who are the politicians, who are the statesmen?
The post-election period saw many people jostling for posts and portfolios.
Who deserved what depended on the individual's age, academic qualifications
and track record. Here, the difference between the politician and the statesman
The politician as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is a 'person engaged
or interested in politics as a profession', whereas a 'statesman is a politician
gifted with far sighted, sagacious and practical views on politics, taking
a leading part in the management of state affairs'.
The two are as different as chalk and cheese.
One says, "A tooth for a tooth", the other, "Let's unite for the good
of the country and desist from confrontational politics".
It is not my intention to name those who fall into the two categories,
but anyone who looks at our post-independence political history, starting
with D.S. Senanayake, and coming down to the present, should be able to
separate the sheep from the goats. One doesn't have to be a shepherd to
Re-use the water
No rain, no water, no electricity. This is the weak excuse for the recent
blackouts and no forex for generators nor oil.
Why cannot the water which has exited from turbines via reservoirs be
This could be done by constructing a series of artificial tanks for
collection and repeat generation at lower levels.
Countries with flat land have to rely on thermal power and those with
no indigenous raw material import oil, coal, gas but supply and price are
Hence, the frantic research for energy from solar, wind, sea waves,
Sri Lanka is blessed with centrally located mountains having an abundant
supply of natural water.
Perhaps, these resources have not been fully exploited. Here are a few
1) The distance between artificial tanks would depend on topography
for the most convenient site. Even 10 feet below would be equally effective.
2) Artificial tanks would have clean water, free of sand and silt.
Natural reservoirs may have a reduced capacity (as much as 40%) because
they have not been dredged.
3) Evaporation of water is about one inch per day which adds up to a
30ft. reduction per year.
Therefore, a smaller surface area of tank with greater depth per storage
capacity should be considered to reduce evaporation.
4) Seepage into the soil would be minimized if surfaces are rock lined.
Sri Lanka has an abundant rock stock from which the supply could be obtained.