Plus - Letters to the editor

A fervent plea on behalf of our environment and wildlife

Open letter to the President

We are all very excited about developing Sri Lanka. However, that development needs to come in a sustainable mannar without harming our environment and biodiversity. Sadly, we constantly see news of an ongoing or potential development project that could endanger our wildlife or harm our forests.
Large scale deforestation results in habitat fragmentation and the animals’ vulnerability to move freely between isolated forests.

One of the rare elephants at Sinharaja forest. (File pic)

These forest patches and associated wildlife will not last long if we continue to give priority to development and forget environmental conservation.

If the Commonwealth Games project continues, there will be a massive loss of wildlife habitats, and natural land “corridors” used by elephants and other wildlife. This will deepen the human-wildlife conflict, especially the already serious elephant-human conflict.

In addition to the threat to wildlife, deforestation will make the area much drier, deplete ground water reserves affecting agriculture and farming, and increase our CO2 footprint (global warming) - Sri Lanka is now shockingly ranked 4th in the world of countries that destroy primary forests. Do we really want to go further up in this shameful list?

Any profit obtained from this event will be temporary, but the tremendous damage on the environment and wildlife will be permanent. Instead, properly planned and implemented real Eco-Tourism will bring a steady flow of income for many years. We urge the President to hear the pleas of thousands expressed in the following petition and reconsider the decision to bid for the games.
Forests play a crucial role in environmental sustainability and the delicate balance of eco-systems. At a time when our planet is facing severe man-made climate and ecological issues, we need to be protecting our environment, replanting the forests and enlarging wildlife habitats, NOT further decreasing them.

Deforestation to make roads, hotels and other structures is not wise in the long run. We should certainly not cut roads though buffer zones of our only rainforest World Heritage site Sinharaja. We ask the President to step in and prevent further deforestation in all national parks, reserves and buffer zones. Please expand Sinharaja – do not harm it further, Multinational companies are exploiting our natural resources.

Thousands of acres have already been cleared in Somawathie National Park by Dole Lanka and CIC too seems to be eyeing the Chundankadu Reserve/Proposed Reserve for Banana cultivation. These are enormous blows to flora and fauna.

Such cultivations not only use up precious forest land and deplete habitats, but will contaminate the soil and ground water due to the massive amount of pesticides and chemicals used. Water pollution will increase medical issues like kidney and liver trouble in the people of the area.

Lord Buddha preached, “Keles Wanaya Sidinna, Thurulatha Wanaya Nosidanna” (Destroy the forest of greed, but do not destroy the forest of trees)”. This beautiful land was protected and gifted to us by our ancestors. We all have a deep obligation to pass it unharmed to future generations.

Concerned Sri Lankan Citizens

Do not vote for politicians whose faces deface our walls

I write this article in utter disgust as a resident of Negombo-Baseline road (Gampaha district).
I have lived overseas almost all my adult life, working hard, saving for years to return to my country for a better life. With the money I had saved over the years I built two houses. To my horror I just noticed, that the entire front parapet wall of my newly built houses has been ruined by election propaganda posters pasted by the Negombo/Gampaha district contestants - mainly PA candidates.

I am thoroughly disappointed, saddened and angered at such irresponsible actions. Are these the people who want to run our country? This is being disrespectful of and reckless with our people’s property.

I decided to return to Sri Lanka and contribute in any way I could for the development and betterment of my country. But basic living rights enjoyed in a civilized society are being violated in broad daylight and the attitude of the responsible authorities i.e. the Police is more than frustrating.

My concern also is what action is being taken by environment protection police units initiated by the Ministry of Defence?

When candidates are registered to contest at elections, they must be made aware that pasting of posters on private property is not allowed and illegal, and any such offence is punishable by law. This must then be enforced irrespective of party, position or person. Nobody should be allowed to be above the law!

I urge the general public islandwide who have been the victims of such actions or simply understand this menace to refrain from voting for such politicians. Do not bring such people to power. Respect, confidence and trust cannot be bought, they have to be earned! Responsible governance should be carried out by educated and respectful individuals and not by every "Tom Dick and Harry!

George De Silva, Via e-mail

Bus routes changed, but no benefits to the public

In the past, bus routes and bus halts were clearly marked, and people could easily get about their business, if they did not have the luxury of a car. But today, bus routes and bus halts have undergone many changes, causing much inconvenience to the public.

Halts are too far apart and distant from shopping and marketing areas. We have to walk long distances with heavy shopping bags to get onto a bus. Buses using circuitous routes seldom return by the same route.

But with all these changes, we still have traffic congestion.

C. E. T. Rodrigo, Moratuwa

Indifference in the Railway in closing the track a week before Matara feast

The Sri Lanka Railway which prides itself on being one of the oldest state concerns does not seem to have grown in experience. There was a time that the Railway was more service-oriented. Since train fares have been increased they cannot make excuses for any lapses on their part.

I am referring to the closure of a part of the rail track from Alutgama to Galle last week just a week prior to the annual church feast at Matara’s national shrine. It is common knowledge that most of the pilgrims travel there by train and the Railway makes a profit thereby. Didn’t those timing the closure consider the needs of the commuters who use the railway? If so, were they blissfully unaware that the annual Ruhuna bound pilgrims would need the train just for one more week?

Or was the closure arranged to inconvenience the pilgrims? To add insult to injury the church authorities too slept over the issue when the closure date was announced many moons in advance. The feast was to be celebrated on September 11, and the tracks were closed on September 1. Surely the rails that have stood for over 125 years could have waited for just another week.

Will the Minister in charge of Railways call for explanation from those concerned? Commuters in general and the Christians in particular who were forced into unnecessary inconvenience need a reasonable explanation.

Lenard R Mahaarachchi, Moratuwa

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