Letters to the Editor

9th September 2001

Conserving the wilds, at whose and what cost?

I read with interest Rohan Wijesinha's article titled 'Playing with fire' in The Sunday Times of August 26, this year and would like to draw attention to the financial implications of this project. There are huge sums of money involved in this project, surely an important factor to consider given the state of our economy . 

Total project costs have been estimated at US $34.5 million, of which $9.7 million will be a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Sri Lankan government will contribute $8.9 million _ yes, that is you and me, the citizens of this country. If this is to be used in the national interest, to protect Sri Lanka's natural resources, I'm sure most citizens would be happy to contribute. But will it?

The loans of $12 million (ADB) and $4 million (Netherlands government) will have to be paid back out of taxpayers money too. This country is already up to its ears in debt. Can we afford to borrow more? Especially if this money is to be misused? 

Mr. Wijesinha clearly shows that the project will do little to protect wildlife. On the contrary it will, in all probability, sanction and facilitate exploitation of our natural resources to the detriment of the overall ecology of the island. Even the newly appointed Project Director believes that the project will be detrimental to conservation - at least he did a few months ago. The President, herself the Minister responsible for Wildlife had not been made aware of all the implications, it appears. Hardly likely to strengthen our faith in the project. 

The Government should take a careful look at this project and ensure that if it is to go ahead, it will be re-negotiated so that it is beneficial, and not executed to cause losses to this country and future generations. 

Nirmala de Mel
President -Ruk Rakaganno

Bust those buses!

The Colombo City Traffic Police published statistics on traffic offences, listing three-wheelers as the worst offenders.

It is obvious that the Traffic Police are blind to the numerous offences committed by private and public buses. Take a five-km stretch of highway and one can detect more offences than the number of buses plying along it.

Three wheelers are a menace, no doubt, but no one will deny that buses are not second to them. However, the Traffic Police seem to be turning a blind eye to them.

Either the Traffic Police are protecting the bus driver or fooling the public.

R. Silva

Where do we go from here?

I retired as a Chief Station Master of Railways on June 8, 1984 on the maximum of the salary scale applicable to the grade. I contributed 4 % of my salary to the Widows' and Orphans' Pension Scheme for 37 years. 

I am now receiving a monthly pension of Rs. 4,793 which is hardly sufficient to meet my food bill. A packet of rice and curry is Rs. 35 which I cannot afford to buy. I, therefore, get a meal of string hoppers from Jaffna hotels which comes to about Rs. 26.

The People's Alliance election manifesto of 1994 promised salary increases to public servants and pensioners. The reports of the Wanasinghe Commission and B.C. Perera Commission recommended salary increases, but so far they have not been implemented.

J.P. Wickremasuriya

Take a lesson from good old Lanka

Indonesian President Megawati recently warned her family members not to obtain unlawful benefits.

She also personally warned her ministers and officials not to give favours to her family members. If it happens the ministers would have to face the blame, she had told them in no uncertain terms.

This is incredible. If the Indonesian President has truly said so, it must be due to her inexperience in the art of governance.

How does she expect her family members to come up in life and amass wealth? If such small favours and gestures like awards of tenders worth billions off-line, purchases of locomotives, military hardware, ships, airbuses, etc, cannot be at the whims and fancies of close relatives what would be the use of having your own kith and kin in the highest executive position?

Perhaps we should send our politicians to teach her a thing or two.

Metthananada Wijekulasuriya

When Murali showed the way 

Local cricket hero Muttiah Muralitharan taught many a good lesson to his teammates and the nation, at Asgiriya. 

The Sri Lankan team was desperate, with just a 196 run lead and only four wickets left on the third day of the second Test against India. The Indians were quite sure of sending the tail- enders back to the pavilion with their superb fast bowling attack, winding up the Sri Lankan innings just under 200 runs.

The Sri Lankan batsmen who faced the Indian fast bowling attack were trying to protect their wickets without trying to attack the bowlers and get more runs. But not Murali. He was not selfish. 

He didn't try to protect his wicket (position) without doing service to his team. He also proved that at a crucial time one should not talk much but act to bring the situation to normal. He also showed that attack is the best defence, and attack with a smile, whatever the outcome.

Murali faced all the Indian fast bowlers without fear, with a pleasant smile. He whacked left and right to bring the score up to a formidable 263 runs (though not enough) to give a good fight to the Indians. He adopted some methods unique to him that were not written in cricket books. With such methods he saved his team to a certain extent; achieved the personal goal of a maiden half century in his Test career and made everybody happy, including the rarely smiling Whatmore. 

If the end result is acceptable and if it contributes to the happiness of everybody who cares about the laws written in books?

W.S. Wijeratne

Politicos doing it all wrong

Industrialists are interviewed daily on TV regarding the power cuts. All lament about their losses and blame the C.E.B. engineers. No one has the guts to point his finger at the politicians whose indifference to the pleas of the C.E.B. is responsible for this crisis. 

Severe droughts and floods occur in cycles of four and 11 years. Engineers who are aware of this have over the years, been submitting proposals for thermal power etc. to meet this situation. But politicians have turned a deaf ear, for they are only concerned about gathering votes and these proposals if implemented would affect their vote banks. The engineers should be allowed to do what they are trained for and the politicians should do what they are supposed to do. Unfortunately, these politicians are making a mess of what they are supposed to do right now.

C. Gaffoor

In the dark 

The power cuts were enforced on July 2 and there was a blackout from 7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.

This went on for about a week. Thereafter, the power was interrupted from 8.30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Then suddenly on August 13 without informing the public the power was cut from 7.00 p.m. and on the 14th at 7.15 p.m.

Why cannot a definite time be fixed for the power cuts? Could the Electricity Board officials please explain?

S. Sangarapillai


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