If there are still persons who do not understand the importance of environmental conservation and preserving what little of the ecological balance we have after our two-legged predators have done with it, should they not be taught some basic lessons. They might be too old to be sent to school having seen how some of [...]




If there are still persons who do not understand the importance of environmental conservation and preserving what little of the ecological balance we have after our two-legged predators have done with it, should they not be taught some basic lessons.

They might be too old to be sent to school having seen how some of them as parliamentarians behaved during the time of the last parliament. Even school-going children would remember –how could they forget- some of our law-makers looking as though they had they had just stepped out of some grinding mill. So lavish they were with chilli powder.

If that is what the country can expect from those who make our laws then is it scant wonder that Charles Dickens was moved to write that the law is an ass. What that makes those who make the laws and others who interpret them I would not venture to comment.

This is a particularly nasty area seeing those who are convicted of murder or convicted and on appeal and are pardoned and wave goodbye to prison or remand or wherever they are incarcerated while some others who haven’t been found guilty or even charged languish in, at times, for years. This is now beginning to happen regularly with change of every government.

This kind of conduct, what some call revolving-door justice- has been going on for some time. Perhaps the day will come when it will be more convenient and certainly cheaper to toss a coin and decide to lock the fellow up or let him go and vote for you.

Despite all the hoopla about how lawful our nation would turn out to be before long and how the law will strike down anybody who violates the law and never mind who, things do not seem to turn out that way. I mean not everyone is above the law as some could testify.

It is the matter of the law breakers and those who wield the law and do not do so because the law breaker is above the law and a chum of a law maker or two or a second cousin from the mother-in-law’s side that suffers from a pain in the mouth through overusing their power or influence and violating laws ad infinitum.

All one has to do-especially these days when some are locked down instead of being locked up- is to gather several newspapers or watch some investigative video clips or even some chat shows and you would find expose’s on the grabbing of state land, the cutting of precious forests to clear land for roads, buildings, hotels, housing and much more.

What is worse is that most often this is done without the necessary authority and permits from the relevant authorities. And where are the authorized institutions that are expected to supervise the functioning of these institutions.

Often one hears top officials saying they did not know about the goings on or nobody told them about what was happening reminding you of that former president- no not Trump but Sirisena. The latter’s constant refrain was the repetitive “no, no nobody told me.”

It is rather difficult to swallow this “did not hear or nobody told us,” unless our institutions are now inundated with both the deaf and the dumb.

It was less than two weeks after the present government assumed office last August that some persons began clearing and widening a road inside the borders, it appears, of the Sinharaja Forest which had been conferred the honour of a World Heritage Site.

Only those who had no understanding of the value of the Sinharaja Forest or did not care what they were destroying as long they achieved their personal purpose of self- aggrandizement. At a press conference Nirupama Ranawake, MP and Chairman of the Matara District Development Council did admit that the road builders had not obtained the clearance from the relevant environment authority.

Who among the road builders did not know that was an essential requirement for the project to proceed particularly after it had once  been stopped in 2013 for lack of clearance from the all the relevant institutions including the UNESCO that is responsible for the sustenance of the Heritage site.

If it had been stopped once for lack of proper authority would the owners have restarted the project without the relevant authority for the second time unless somebody did not care a damn for the law?. What Mr Nirupana Rajapaksa did not disclose at the time of the press conference were the names of the originators of this project and in whose name/names it is being done.

There are media stories circulating that the project appears to have expanded or extended beyond its initial boundaries which I cannot confirm.

Just the other day there was some hanky-panky as some of other media sleuths reported about the project to carpet and develop the Diyagala-Nallathanniya road in Ginigathhena, how large old trees have been cut down and the timber sold to some private merchant and other shenanigans in violation of by-laws or whatever they are now called which does not seem to matter because who cares anyway.

Again two weeks ago our sister paper “Daily Mirror” in a news story headlined “Illegal clearing of Attidiya Santuary with powerful political patronage”.

Around September last year there were reports for large wetlands near Puttalam  being illegally cleared by the brother of a politician who himself was dabbling at local government level politics who had been arrested for having 2 acres or so of mangroves and animal life cleared to start a shrimp farm when already he is said to 8 or 9 other shrimp farms. Does this wetlands had been cleared for these too?

Does he have the faintest idea of what he has done to the area, if only to that? Does he know that the greatest danger to mangroves comes from shrimp farming and does he know what farm follows and extermination of wetlands?

Instead of sending the citizens of this country to military training (to fight whom pray? ) would it not be more fruitful and educative to give training in agriculture since many seem to be all at sea? ,

To destroy varieties of fresh water animal life and mangroves to satisfy his avariciousness and break the laws of the land while desecrating the land is surely not to show an iota of consideration for the future generation of this nation and thereby the lack of intelligence?.

There are a plethora of examples of destructive ecocidal activity and ecological criminality committed by politicians and their chummocracy, if one might call it. To them it might mean merely cutting down trees, clearing jungles by the side or rivers, sea and land which is said to be taking up usable land. The plants and animals that die are disposable, so the uneducated think.

It now seems a pity they did not learn more. Had they gone to school and learnt something useful instead of owning liquor shops or distributing liquor licenses and fattening  themselves how much more gracious it would turning up on Poya day and praying to the deities instead of preying on the people.

(Neville de Silva is a veteran Sri Lankan journalist who was Assistant Editor, Diplomatic Editor and Political Columnist of the Hong Kong Standard before moving to London where he worked for Gemini News Service. Later he was Deputy Chief-of-Mission in Bangkok and Deputy High Commissioner in London before returning to journalism. )

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