Her life was a lesson in living
Gunawathi Pandithage
At 81 years of age my mother-in-law passed away on August 27.
Missing her immensely, I am left to recollect one after another the remarkable characteristics of this personality, lovingly known as “Gune” to all.

We, the sons-in-law and daughters-in-law are seven in number and have come in seven different moulds. To Amma, each was her 8th child, one more to shower her motherly love upon. Did she or did she not approve of the mould in which we arrived? We never knew!! There wasn’t a day we felt our connection to her was only by law. How did she do it; can we ever emulate her; Which heavenly abode is she in……these questions keep recurring in my mind.

In the sickness of a child she was strength, at a dane to be cooked she was quiet efficiency or simply when marketing, her presence was indeed a delight.
Amma experienced the “Ashta Loka Dhamma” universal to all, in no reduced measure. At one end she enjoyed a golden wedded life to a devoted husband. In the midst of this she was devastated by the death of her fourth son. Wisely she arrested her negative emotions of despondency by finding an outlet in her abounding generosity which touched the lives of all round her.

In this day and age of “power struggle” between husbands and wives, mothers-in-law and daughters and siblings, Amma epitomized simplicity. Hence her life was not a struggle. Watching her live her life was for me a lesson in living.

A daughter-in-law
Madha pawane sisilasa gene dhunne
Mal gomuwake suwadhai obe dhunne
Udha lahiru se savibala dhunne
Mok suwe Amme obeta pathanne

His struggle for power was for the benefit of Sri Lanka
Carlo Fernando
E. Carlo Fernando, an eminent engineer, well known in engineering and technical circles passed away after a brief illness on September 4.
His experience spanned many countries. He worked for outstanding engineering firms in India, Britain and the U.S.A. and was employed by the governments of Nigeria and Sierra Leone to implement power and water supply projects. The then General Manager of the Dept. of Govt. Electrical Undertakings, also an E.C. Fernando, recognizing his experience and talent recruited him to the state services and later to the Water Resources Board as an advisor to then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

Like Dr. Panabokke the geologist and M.S.M de Silva the engineer, Carlo always advocated the diversion of the Kalu Ganga (which has more water than the Mahaweli Ganga) to the southeast Dry Zone or Ruhunu Rata. If this was a reality, the dry Hambantota area would have flourished with agricultural and animal husbandry projects and become a catalyst for Southern development. He would say that trying to divert a water scarce river like Menik Ganga to the south was a poor substitute and would in no way provide Ruhuna with the water it needs to make a kick start. Aware that all ancient civilizations began in river valleys, likewise Hambantota too badly needs this water.

Together with providing for the water needs of the people, Carlo stressed the need for power to light up our lives. He said power was the primary industry of all industries and if Sri Lanka hoped to industrialize, cheap power should be available islandwide.

Having worked on the Norton Bridge, Laxapana, Polgolla and other hydro power projects, and having investigated the Upper Kotmale Scheme, Carlo was fully aware that Sri Lanka's hydropower resources were limited and the country badly needed other cheaper sources of energy.

Being the power development consultant to the C.E.B., Carlo knew that a pre-requisite for development was an inexpensive and reliable power system. This would enable Sri Lanka to effectively compete with other industrial products of South Asian and Far Eastern countries.

With this in mind, Carlo promoted the setting up of coal power stations to produce cheap power for Sri Lanka. Whatever others may say he was the pioneer for coal power studies in Sri Lanka.

Trincomalee was his first choice as the deep water harbour would facilitate coal shipments and would become a coal storage and coal transshipment centre not only for coal stations in Sri Lanka but for South East Asia as well.

Black and Veatch, the leading coal power specialists in U.S.A., were the project consultants for the Trincomalee coal power scheme. Unfortunately, just when the Trinco-coal project was ready for implementation, the ethnic conflict broke out in 1983.

When Trinco was abandoned for security reasons, Carlo Fernando's investigations showed that Mawella, near Tangalle was the next best site, since ships could be brought close enough to the coast and unloading coal would not be a difficult proposition. However, those heading the C.E.B. chose to promote Norochcholai in Puttalam even though it was an unsuitable site because ships bringing coal could not come near enough to the shore and would not be able to unload their supplies in rough stormy seas for half the year.

The plan unrealistically, was that coal supplies were to be unloaded in mid sea at the end of a 4.5 kilometre long jetty. Knowing that these coal supplies would never reach the power station, Carlo did not want Sri Lanka to end up having only an imposing but dead building unable to produce any of the much needed life giving power, because it would get no coal supplies to function.

Carlo was a true patriot. He wanted Sri Lanka to develop and progress rapidly, so that Sri Lankans could find employment in Sri Lanka itself and would not have to legally or illegally creep into other countries to take up menial jobs. He worked only for the good of the country and no other considerations influenced him. He was sincere in whatever he did and humble in his attitude.

As an engineer he had plenty of expertise in his specialized fields of power and water resources and it is indeed regretful that people in key positions did not make full use of his knowledge and skills for the advancement of Sri Lanka.

Carlo was a gentleman and a humane person. He was especially helpful to his relatives and friends. He never forgot his old school and was always grateful to Maris Stella, the Marist brothers and his teachers for the good foundation in life they gave him. When Maris Stella opted to go private at the time of the schools take over in the 1960s he contributed financially to keep the school going.

Negombo in particular and Sri Lanka in general have lost a civic minded and upright gentleman. His family, relatives, friends and the country will surely miss him.

R.I. Fernando

From our memory his name will never fade
Lakshman Kadirgamar
Neither augurs nor soothsayers did portend
The death lurkin’ in dark, at Bullers’ Lane end
Sniper’s lethal bullet pierced his heart
On the Ides of August breath’d his last

He had the stature, courage and a broader vision
To analyse the Sri Lankan crisis with precision
He was aware of the brutal mindset of fanatic boss
And knew very well the dangerous path he did cross

He was champion of democracy and prince of peace
‘Til scourge of terrorism would cease, he wasn’t at ease
Displaying a unique and remarkable courage
Strove hard to clean up Sri Lanka’s image.

His tireless efforts in the past came to fruition
With EU imposing a travel prohibition
On ferocious felines of striped kind
‘Cos atrocities perpetrated were most unkind

Plethora of eulogies sung and tributes paid
From our memory, his name will never fade
This splendid personage, entire nation adored
He shines brightly in his heavenly abode.

S.G. Ratnayake

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