Stop the plunder of Lanka’s pure water In the past, bottlers of fresh fruit drinks encouraged the local fruit industry to plant and bought the fresh fruit from the producers. Not so today, even the local fresh fruit drink bottlers have moved on, they don’t buy anything locally. Instead, hundreds of container loads of cheap [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Stop the plunder of Lanka’s pure water

In the past, bottlers of fresh fruit drinks encouraged the local fruit industry to plant and bought the fresh fruit from the producers. Not so today, even the local fresh fruit drink bottlers have moved on, they don’t buy anything locally.

Instead, hundreds of container loads of cheap fruit pulp are imported from India and mixed with fresh clean Sri Lankan water. A small quantity is sold in the local market and the rest is exported.

As the water in India is suspected to be badly polluted, many Indian companies are relocating in Sri Lanka through the many concessions afforded by the Board of Investment, just to gain access to the unlimited supplies of clean water and to avert the cost of purifying their water.
They import container loads of fruit pulp from India, mix it with clean fresh water extracted from the ground using deep wells with minimal purification and export it back to India and elsewhere. They do not pay one cent for the precious water they extract. Sri Lanka and the people of Sri Lanka do not benefit from their presence, as the precious water is being given away free. This is obscene. These companies are mostly automated, employ a minimal number of workers, mostly Indian and are concerned only in the maximum profit they make.

With the world going into an extremely serious water crisis in the future, there could be even wars for water. The United States space agency NASA has warned that California’s water will only last for one more year.

Instead of protecting and preserving the future water security of this country, we dish it out for free. This does not mean that water should be paid for either. No, the export of water should be banned.

The indiscriminate pumping of water has affected the water quality in surrounding village wells and significantly reduced the water table. It came to a head with the villages in the vicinity of a factory complaining that they had lost their sources of water.

If the Government has any interest in the people of this country, their future and the generations to come, it should take urgent measures to ensure the water security of this country and advise the BOI and other approving agencies to discourage or stop giving permission to any individual or company that exports water. Those who have been already given permission should be instructed to stop operations within a given period of time.
Access to clean potable water is the birthright of the citizens of this country. If it is not protected now, tomorrow will be too late.

Ashley de Vos


No repairs done to this broken road in Kundasale for 15 years

The Aluthwatte-Gangapitiya Road, a C-category road in the Kundasale electorate, has been for more than 15 years left unrepaired, and has now become almost unmotorable.

The road serves the villages of Aluthwatte, Gangapitiya, Paranagangapitiya and Pol AkkaraThiha. It provides access to about 200 families, a children’s home, a physiotherapy centre serving the villages of Kandy and a vocational training centre.

The road is used by heavy tipper trucks carrying dolomite from the mines in the area, raw material to an asphalt factory, and ironically, road construction material to Kandy and beyond. The regular travel of heavy vehicles on this broken road has resulted in the main water pipelines constantly being fractured.

For everyday road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, three-wheelers, cars and school vans, the 2 km journey is extremely arduous. Out of desperation, the villagers themselves have made a few futile attempts to repair the road by laying out rubble on the road during festival times. But with every heavy rainfall, it simply gets washed away. The state of the road is so bad that even the three-wheelers refuse to go beyond a certain point. There is also no bus service on this stretch of the road.

This area is home to displaced communities, and it is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious area. In the 15 years that we have been a part of this community, there has been precious little development here. Despite all these challenges, and the many cultural and social differences, the community co-exists in unity and harmony.

We appeal to the authorities to take into serious consideration the plight of our community, and assist in expediting these long overdue repairs to this 2 km stretch of road.

Nalin and Ayesha Perera
Digana, Aluthwatte


Senior citizens, pensioners taken for a ride by the new Govt. also

During the Presidential election, both the former President and present President promised both pensioners and senior citizens, that they would improve their livelihood and solve their financial problems.

The former President in his election manifesto promised to give an allowance of Rs. 3,500 a month for pensioners and 12 per cent interest on senior citizens’ fixed deposits in banks up to Rs. 2.5 million. The new Government reduced the ceiling to Rs. 1 million, though it increased the interest rate to 15% in the interim budget while pensioners were promised only Rs. 1000 a month from April 2015.

The former President also promised in his budgets from 2006 onwards that he would rectify the pension anomaly. The present government also made a similar promise. But neither of them provided the poor suffering pensioners who are struggling to meet their day-to-day expenses and medical requirements any relief. The worst affected are those who retired before 1997.

Senior citizens who served the private sector do not get any pension. They depend on the interest from their fixed deposit. When they retired they got a lump sum as EPF and other benefits and often the amount exceeds Rs. 1 million. But due to the policy of the present Government, they are unable to get the 15% interest on their deposits.

We the senior citizens earnestly urge the President to give a ruling to all banks to pay at least 12% interest up to Rs. 2.5 million and ease our financial problems.

Please consider our plight and relieve us from tension, stress and anxiety before we breathe our last.

S. Sivayoganathan


500-metre law should apply to Kirula Road bar

Kirula Road is an important artery in the city transport system, being a much used link road between Havelock Road and the Nawala-Nugegoda area.

The road is a commercial cum residential zone. Apart from residences, the head offices of the Surveyor General’s Department, the CTB, the Labour Ministry, the Asiri Hospital, the Press Complaints Commission and several private institutions are situated on this road.

Just about a month or so before the presidential election on January 8, to the horror of the residents, a bar was opened near the Chitra Lane junction. It was the common talk that this bar allegedly belonged to someone with powerful political connections and therefore no purpose would be served by complaining about it.

About 100 metres from this bar, down Pathiba Lane, is the old primary school for the mentally handicapped children. It is a sad but inspiring sight to see parents bringing their special children to school, holding them by their hands. Just behind this primary school is the Dudley Senanayake College, which has about 5,000 students.

Right in front of the bar is Kirula Place, down which is an old Buddhist temple. There is another temple right next to the Dudley Senanayake College. In addition, there are at least three kindergartens, within a radius of 300 metres from the bar.

I request the authorities to implement the 500-metre rule in respect of bars.

Ravi Perera
Via email


Polgasowita’s dream of water still stuck in the pipeline

Under the Kalu Ganga Project of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB), construction work on a new water collection and distribution tank on Pasal Mawatha at Halpita in Polgasowita was completed by the end of the last year. Large pipelines on the main roads and small pipelines on byroads were successfully laid before December 2014. The pipelines were tested by sending water from the tank through them and flushing out at some points.

Weeks before the Presidential election, application forms were distributed free of charge among the people of Kondurawa, Halpita, Polgasowita and surrounding areas, at hurriedly organised meetings at temples and other places.

Although four months have passed since the distribution of application forms to the residents, there is complete silence from the Water Board. To the residents’ questions regarding the delay, the board officials at Piliyandala have no plausible answers.

The water tank is ready, the pipelines are ready, water is aplenty in the Kalu Ganga, and applicants are ready with the money for connections. Then, why delay the distribution of water? Is this also a failed project? The residents request the Yahapalanaya Government to officially hold a simple ceremony and launch the water service to the area.

Sumith Des


Sri Lanka, know thy friends and enemies

Since Independence in 1948, China and Pakistan have been the only genuine and supportive friends we have had. They stood with us against all sorts of allegations about human rights abuses, supported us with arms and ammunition during the 30-year war against the LTTE, and have given us soft loans to overcome our financial problems. They have been true friends indeed.

On the contrary, the United States, Britain, Canada, other Western countries and India have refused to sell us military hardware to overcome the LTTE menace. Although they banned the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, they provided pro-LTTE elements sanctuary and allowed them to raise funds and conduct political rallies and meetings in violation of their own anti-terrorism laws.

They do so even today. India was responsible for training and arming the LTTE and supported it for many years under the delusion it could manipulate the terror group to its own ends.

When India failed to do so, it thought of supporting Sri Lanka during the last stages of the Eelam war.

These people are fair weather friends. They will turn against us if we do not toe their line and be under their hegemony.

We must never forget this. But we must be accommodating and continue to be friendly to China and Pakistan. They will remain true friends to us. It does not mean that we should provide them with sovereignty of our own lands as has happened with the Colombo Port Development scheme. This has to be rectified, and the rules governing the project re-written to suit us.

S. Waduge


Nightmare on boat from Nagadeepa

We embarked on a much planned trip to Jaffna recently. On the whole it was quite an eventful one. The vast development in that city and the kind and helpful people were far above our expectations.

A trip to Nagadeepa was the culmination of our visit. Although much of the road from Jaffna to Nagadeepa was under construction, we took it in our stride and did not mind the hassle. The boat trip to the island was tolerable, even though the partly usable and somewhat dirty life jackets were thrown on the ground for passengers to put on.

After the trek around the hallowed viharaya, our party of seven got into two trishaws to board the boat for our journey back. Then started the nightmare. By that time the boarding point had been packed to the brim with people waiting to get back. Evidently no boat had arrived for quite some time, judging by the agitated crowds standing in queues in the scorching sun.

Then to cap it all, a Navy ferry arrived with a brand new Defender jeep on board. This had a label stuck to say ‘Nagadeepa Viharadhipathi’. For nearly an hour the process of unloading this luxury vehicle was in operation while hundreds of people were left standing around.

The noise of people complaining, children screaming and somebody’s nanny goat bleating and foraging for paper to eat were enough to drive any sane person mad. This animal was creeping under people and at one stage stamped on my poor sister-in-law, which made her to twist her leg and scream in pain.

Finally, after much ado the luxury vehicle was driven out of the ferry. At this point pandemonium broke out. Queues were forgotten as people rushed to get into the boats that were now coming in. An old contraption that had seen better days was our lot and we were literally pushed in through a small opening with a bang on the head. It was so low that standing inside was a Herculean task, and a boat that should hold roughly about 20 had double that amount crammed in.

Throughout the journey, our heads kept striking the roof and there was not even breathing space, let alone standing room. I gave up hope of ever getting off that boat and waited for it to capsize at any moment. If it did capsize no one could have been saved, as through the small opening no rescue operation was possible. After much heaving, rocking and chugging and as the gods still wished us to live, that pitful contraption that was called a boat reached the embarkation point, and we just about managed to disembark without being trampled to death.

My question is this? Who would have taken the responsibility for the lives lost if a major catastrophe were to happen? Would it have been the Navy or the private boat owners? Why can’t a more organised and safer mode of transport to Nagadeepa be in operation for the thousands of pilgrims who visit this historic viharaya daily? A watery grave should not be their reward.

Shirley Nobel De Silva

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