There is no one in Sri Lanka who will not welcome cheap electric
power. It is a fact that hydropower is the cheapest natural resource
available for power generation, although its one failing is that,
it is subject to the vagaries of wind and weather. Nevertheless
this has been the mainstay of power supply in this country.
Now it is becoming
increasingly difficult to exploit the still available hydro-resources
in the hill country.
The next cheapest
resource is imported coal but this has also given rise to a string
have to continue to bear harrowing economic burdens and strains.
Certainly no powers, either divine or earthly, seem to care.
In fact all
the necessary ground work and feasibility studies for a coal power
station at Norachcholai had been completed costing billions of rupees.
for completion of the project was readily available.
But now the
entire project has been aborted including the foreign funding facility.
The past and
present governments are both guilty of this duplicity.
government as a compromise, has now decided to install a coal-power
generating complex at Trincomalee, but this gives rise to many contentious
issues which the Minister of Power and Energy will have to resolve.
people will certainly want to know whether all the environmental
and technical concerns that were adduced against the Norachcholai
Project have been successfully circumvented by setting up the project
these have been achieved, there are still some other matters that
merit ministerial consideration.
is a sparsely populated area and hence any harmful effects of a
coal project on human life and habitation would have been minimal.
is a densely populated area with many industries.
is also the premier military site of Sri Lanka. It behoves a government
to ensure that such an environment should remain as far as possible
uncluttered and unfettered.
* One of the
major objections to a coal project is fine coal dust.
is in the teeth of the north-east monsoon hence the consequences
of this are far too obvious to enumerate.
* Most of the
hurricanes that devastate this country also hover around the eastern
impact on the coal project hardly needs elaboration. Norachcholai
is free from such disabilities.
* The Norachcholai
project was governmental hence power generation costs etc., would
have been very nominal, but the Trinco project is to be a private
of this country know all too well the aftermath of such ventures.
Incidentally, the Bishopric claims against the Norachcholai project
should be equally tenable for other religious sites as well.
In fact there
are many such sites in and around the Trinco area as well.
If such claims
are being upheld, no coal power project could be set up in any part
of this country.
way of second generation dharmishta politicos
Unacceptable behaviour by politicians of the ruling party
seems to be a common occurrence.
A cabinet minister
invades a police station in Colombo with a retinue of followers,
occupies the OIC's chair, and has to be persuaded to leave the station
by another cabinet minister in the wee hours of the morning. No
punishment, no word of reprimand or censure! But a high ranking
police officer defends this behaviour by saying that as a cabinet
minister he is entitled to sit in the OIC's chair.
incident a Pradeshiya Sabha member north of Colombo walks into a
police station and pressurizes the police to release 450 gallons
of illicit hooch taken into custody. No action has yet been taken
against this member.
minister has a tender awarded by his ministry to a tenderer who
happens to be the minister's own mother and sister "combo"
and has the cheek to defend such award.
This is only
the tip of the iceberg! The tabloid press, of course, gives many
more instances of abuse of power and privilege by the second generation
of "Dharmishta" politicians. Is the Prime Minister aware
of these misdemeanours or is he preoccupied with the MoU etc.?
How can the
general public trust any politician when the UNF members, within
months of assuming power, have developed such thick hides and cultivated
such quick tastes for corrupt gains!
yelling, glaring lawyers
Though courts are the ultimate destination for justice,
it is sad to see harassment of witnesses in the guise of eliciting
There is a
fine difference between asserting a point to establish truth, and
intimidating witnesses and frightening the life out of them. This
difference, however, is sufficient to derail the course of law.
Many witnesses go to court for the first time and are definitely
nervous since a lot depends on what is going to happen there. Several
of them are from far-flung areas and have absolutely no idea of
public speaking. Some of them do not even know to read and write.
For some, the issue is a sensitive one, in the context of accepted
norms of our society.
It is the bounden
duty of the attorneys on both sides to make their experience less
harrowing while ensuring they speak the truth.
of these attorneys bring the entire profession into disrepute by
yelling and glaring at them, and trapping them with their baritones.
A penalty should
be imposed on any attorney who loses his temper, raises his voice
unnecessarily, or uses any forms of intimidating body language.
Let's not forget
that the conduct of attorneys in the court is the window through
which the public is looking at the profession. It is also the benchmark
of conduct for any law-abiding society.
bad is good for VIPs
I wonder whether it is only in Sri Lanka that a VIP who
resigns his post due to disgraceful behaviour is accorded a grand
of the Air Force resigned when he was caught lying, to cover up
his involvement in a road accident, where subsequently a man died.
forget that he has brought disgrace to a high Government position.
He also "embarrassed" a DIG into helping him, in this
subtefuge and coerced an Air Force driver to take the rap. The least
punishment he deserved is to have been sacked so that he would be
deprived of his pension and any other emoluments due to him on retirement.
Thereafter, the law should have dealt with him.
But what happened?
He has been allowed to resign. He was accorded a parade with a gun
salute, which was shown on TV.
It is said
that when society is hurtling towards moral decline, what is good
appears to be bad, and what is bad appears to be good.
for a foolproof NIC
Recently a senior minister shot down a proposal to make
it compulsory to produce the National Identity Card (NIC) at voting.
His grounds for refusal was that some unscrupulous people could
collect NICs by threatening the people and use them for impersonation.
of the NIC cannot be overlooked. The NIC is the state recognized
legal document for identification. For the purpose of election,
the NIC number should be entered against the voter's name on the
election list. The photograph on the NIC should establish the voter's
Commissioner earlier suggested the affixation of a special sticker
with a serial number on the voter's card. It was utilized only in
one election. The use of an indelible ink that remains for 24 hours,
without possible removal by any chemical in the market, is presumably
a better proposition. The need for a foolproof NIC has been found
wanting. An NIC with the usual signature of the holder and/or thumb
impressions and other distinguishing features like visible birth
marks or scars will be an ideal safeguard against impersonation.
clergy should stay out of politics
Ven. Dr. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkhita Nayaka Thera
has said that the solution to the ethnic conflict should emanate
from the laity and not from the Buddhist clergy.
What is implied
here is that the clergy should stay away from politics. The public
in general, would no doubt, agree with his sentiments.
complexity of Sri Lankan society into consideration given its diverse
religious, cultural and social beliefs, political issues could be
too complex for the Buddhist clergy to think and act impartially.
Instead of being involved in worldly affairs, the clergy could render
greater service by engaging in the spiritual and moral welfare of
communities. Spreading Buddha's teachings among different communities
to guide civil society would be their greatest contribution.
for illegal migration
The European Union seems to be in a quandary over how to
halt the inflow of asylum- seekers and illegal immigrants to their
countries. So are the United States and Australia.
are seeking the introduction of legislation to keep immigrants out,
especially Muslims, after the September 11 catastrophe.
are hell-bent on halting illegal immigrants even by force. Recent
reports from Australia claimed that illegal immigrants had escaped
from a detention camp.
terms of natural justice, these hordes of poor, oppressed and deprived
people should be able to make their way to the countries of plunderers
who, through the centuries have fortified themselves, by exploiting
delayed is justice denied
The government appears to be taking no steps to expedite
court procedures to help the poor.
get maximum legal support and receive moral support from the rulers,
while ordinary suspects are locked up in remand, sometimes even
before they are found guilty.
D. M. Jayaratne introduced a system whereby all lands were to be
surveyed, planned and ownership certified to minimise land disputes.
It is said that the Australian government had donated 90 million
dollars to implement this scheme. What has happened to that?
The delay in
courts helps only a small fraction of the public while many are
A foreign investor
who owns 98 percent shares of a TV network sought legal remedy to
sort out a dispute against local shareholders. The case is still
dragging on. The BOI and those who invited him to invest here are
silent. Such incidents only discourage would-be investors. As such,
justice must not be delayed under any circumstances.
solutions for Lankan accidents
I was amazed by comments made by a leading lawyer on a television
programme on June 30.
He argued that
the only way to curb accidents was to impose heavy spot fines -
Rs. 5,000 and above - as done in western countries. He has forgotten
that this is Sri Lanka and not a western country. We are an under-developed
nation where we cannot even afford to repair or maintain our roads.
Roads have not been widened for several decades, despite the population
boom and the increase in vehicles. In western countries, roads are
wide and well maintained, and the drivers too can afford fines to
the tune of Rs. 5,000. Here, such fines can be paid only by those
who exploit the public. It is better if roads are widened and maintained
properly, and every private bus driver is given special training
on road manners and courtesy to commuters. Furthermore, route permits
should be cancelled, if it is proved that bus owners have employed
strict procedure for heavy vehicle licences
It is imperative on the part of the Government and Registrar
of Motor Vehicles to take immediate steps to curb road accidents.
Road safety should be made part of the government's policy.
of licences to drive heavy vehicles should be handled not only by
the RMV but also by a competent body consisting of representatives
from the RMV and the Traffic Police. All aspects of fitness and
suitability of drivers should be looked into before licences are
measures are adopted in issuing heavy vehicle licences, road deaths
will remain unavoidable.
gentle giants live and die free
When elephants are injured in the wilds, rarely do vets
go there in time. This is hardly surprising as most vets prefer
to set up profitable private practice in the city and suburbs. To
fill this void, we must bring down Indian vets who are familiar
with the ailments of Asian elephants. Meanwhile, Environment and
Natural Resources Minister Rukman Senanayake has said he wanted
to set up elephant corridors and plant trees and shrubs that provide
sustenance to elephants. But little has been done so far. A local
expert recently suggested that some elephants should be captured
and tamed. This is an easy way out of a difficult and tragic situation.
These gentle giants were born free and should be allowed to live
and die free.
forest cover should be untouched, elephant corridors set up, fodder
and water holes maintained and squatters removed. Is this too much
to expect from any government?
C. B. Perera
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