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25th April 1999

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Mirror Magazine

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Front Page
Mirror Magazine

    Rains and predictions

    And raining bombs

    Rains and predictions

    When the floods occurred in June 1992, the pundits said it was the worst in living memory and predicted that similar floods will not occur in another hundred years. So much for clairvoyance. In 1992, the floods brought in their wake scenes of chaos that were unprecedented in comfortable residential enclaves. No less than the Housing Minister of that era, had to be evacuated from his Lake Drive residence in Rajagiriya by boat. But last week's deluge didn't spare some ministers either.

    A cabinet minister's house, along with those of his neighbours, went under water in last week's deluge. But, nature may not be the sole culprit. We are told that another minister living nearby had the storm water drains around his house dammed, because he feared that the LTTE would attack him from underground.

    But these travails of a people's representative may tend to seem trifling in comparison with the hazards faced by the large mass of the population in the outstation areas. News dispatches coming in from the provinces in the meantime, indicate that there is strangely more relief coming the way of the Southern Province. The other provinces, in which elections were recently concluded feel like poorer cousins, and apparently some of the flood victims in these provinces are now lamenting that it's a shame the elections were over all too soon in those areas.

    A cabinet minister of a previous government was famously heard to say that politicians are blamed for everything, and that they are blamed when it rains and blamed when it doesn't. No powerful cabinet minister is powerful enough to cause a depression in the Bay of Bengal, which was the cause of last week's deluge.

    But, it appeared that the floods had breached our notions of civilization, right here in the urban heartland. Floods and droughts may be nothing new in the tropics, but , maybe ten years ago, the Colombo we knew and the suburbia we knew were not ready to go under water each time the heavens opened up.

    Now, each time mother nature dumps 50 millimetres of rain in suburbia, the roads go under water without a fight, and the system, in a manner of speaking, surrenders under the force of nature's onslaught.

    In the remote outposts, landslides, for instance, add to the hazards posed by the inclement conditions. The weather again is not the sole culprit . Human accomplices in the form of forest rapists and "developers'' help denude the terrain for themselves and for development. From there, it's short work for mother nature to trigger a landslide.

    But, with nothing but electoral landslides in the mind of the urban and provincial leadership, matters such as disaster preparedness and prevention are shelved it seems for rainier days?

    And raining bombs

    NATO is raining bombs on Kosovo, while middle America itself is under siege. In Littleton in Denver, two teenage school kids led an onslaught on their classmates last week, with booby traps, bombs and automatic guns.

    But, as editorial cartoonists observed, the bombings and shootings in Colorado are secondary to the bombings and shootings in Kosovo , which are being coordinated by the American President from his war-room in the White House.

    Some 500 civilians have been killed and 5000 wounded in former Yugoslavia, and the damage to houses buildings and trains in the Yugoslav terrain has been of phenomenal proportions. But, this cowardly bombing of a nation, sans sanction of the UN Security Council, seems to have not deterred Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

    Therein lies the rub. There is no condoning the aggression of the arch-fascist genocidal Milosevic. But, if NATO steps in and adds to the carnage without garnering any palpable results, then it appears that the US has as usual succeeded in breaching the rules while adding to the woes of the desperate people in the Balkans.

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