The Sunday Times Editorial

26th May 1996

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The fact that the Irrigation, Power and Energy Minister and his senior officials had to pray for rain in Anuradhapura this week to get our power generated is not a good reflection on the efficiency of the government.

One is reminded of the Siddhirastu at the end of our Constitution which reads:

Devo vassathu kalena

Sassa sampatthi hetu ca

Phitho bhavatu loko ca

Raja bhavatu dhammiko

which in a free rendering into English would read thus

May the clouds bring timely rain

And the fields be plentiful with grain

May all beings be happy

May the rulers rule justly.

This entire episode where the country has been thrown back into the dark days of the pre-electricity era is a damning indictment of those who are at the helm of affairs in the power and energy sector. Nobody has accepted responsibility - no heads have rolled. Instead they have blamed the previous government and the people for the crisis.

With rain clouds gathering and the monsoon about to unleash there is a sudden flurry of activity to get the required thermal power for any eventuality next year.

We do hope in the process the government adheres to its once promised but now broken pledge for transparency. The history of power tenders stinks from the UNP years to the PA months. Surely the public will like to know to whom these tenders will eventually be awarded. For there are some fears that this power crisis has been almost orchestrated so that the government will go for big tenders which the people withering under the strain of these power cuts will not mind at any cost.

Timely Move?

We all put our clocks and wrist watches forward by one hour yesterday. On Friday night, state television Rupavahini extended its transmission till midnight and announced that the time is 1 a.m . It was a strange experience for all Sri Lankans, causing some uncertainty and confusion. But we will get used to it.

Advancing the clock by an hour or so is a regular feature in western countries during summer and even Asian countries like Malaysia have done it. We are sometimes resistant to change because we fear the unknown. But we need to venture out into this plan which would not only help save energy during this time of power crisis but also give us an extra hour of daytime which really must mean and be translated to an extra hour of work.

When millions of people go to bed one hour earlier than they normally do, the Electricity Board hopes to save a substantial amount of energy. But more importantly, when millions of people have an extra hour of daylight productivity will go up and the economy will improve for the common good.

However, even in western countries, accustomed to putting the clock backwards and forwards, there are official reminders of the impending change, sometimes a month in advance. In our part of the world, such adjustments cannot always be made as easily. Children, especially who travel some distance to schools could be worst affected. It is not good enough to say that children are expected to be schooling close to their homes. We hope the new plan will work and this is not another panic reaction to the present crisis, but one that has been properly thought through.

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