15.03.19 Countdown starts! - sonakar.com

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Monday, 25 February 2019

15.03.19 Countdown starts!

Why is Puttalam  treated differently? This is the fairly reasonable question every inhabitant of the Puttalam constituency   , one of the six in the North- Western Electoral district, has on their mind.   answers to this simple question, however, that are   coming from the President, the Prime minister, the Minister for Western Development and Mega Polis and  the leaders of the so-called Muslim(Halaal) parties (SLMC and ACMC) despite their apparent Haraam activities,  appalling. 

Puttalam area has been engulfed by man made ecologically dangerous, environmentally disasters, ethically wrong and legally challengeable projects, a cement factory in the south of the extended town, a coal power plant in the west, which was once considered as the fertile - cash crop area  of the region. In  the north there is  the intended garbage dump or the sugar coated expression of sanitary solid waste management project. The chosen site ,  is  very close to  residential areas , lagoon fishing, fresh water prawn rearing, saltern , coconut estates   and wildlife sanctuary , leaving only the  West side  for any more  nasty projects, in the future which would be agitated  by any prudent citizen of the country. 

There is no point in revisiting the false promises given to the people of the area for their concerns, when the cement factory was  built at   pallavi in the midst of cocoanut plantation  and the coal power plant was built  at , Nurochchoolai, which was a promising cash crop belt, however,   the Garbage dumping project of Arruwakkadu/Serakkuli attracts severe criticism as several EIA reports confirm that the chosen site is not suitable at all.   

This project was initiated by the Rajapakse government and it was then given up  at the request of former  deputy minister of livestock and incumbent  Chairman of Puttalam UC, Mr. Baiz.  So what? The project is being  resumed and It will start its activity on 15th March 2019, the Mega Polis  Minister Cambika Ranawakka has confirmed. The same Minister was   behind the scene   in building the   notorious coal power plant at Nurochcholai, exposing  the population, namely,  young children and pregnant women  to   multiple medical conditions and mysterious  symptoms of yet to be pathologically confirmed new diseases. Still, it seems that the Minister is not satisfied.  For him  it is about winning next parliamentary seat or about his fantasy for contesting in the next Presidential Election for which  he wants  a carbonless, e-waste free and odourless   clean Colombo. At the expense  of our very right to   simply have a  clean Puttalam.       

The garbage issue was brought to the attention of the President in recent days and he had the following to say:  “We cannot dump our garbage at see, enabling the international community to make a big hoo-hah out of it“. Granted, but the Garbage I create at home  cannot not be thrown at my neighbour’s house.  And  it seems that the environmentally friendly President does not care the local communities, who elected him as president, and their hoo-hah against this unwise and unwelcome project.   

Minister Ranawakka quoted “people who oppose the Puttalam garbage project are selfish and disrespect the lives lost at the collapse of the  “Meethotamulla  garbage” mountain in the capital. You are totally wrong Minister. We are not bemused by the disaster caused by mismanagement by the municipality and or Ministry of Mega Polis   nor any management at all, but we try our best to stop  you from  causing 240, 000 slow deaths and more in perpetuity and turning the already  dry zone into a death zone. Are  you not   remorseful in anticipation for the lives yet to be lost, before it is too late for you to share grief with us  as you expect from us towards the victims of the  “Meethottamulla” 

The Minister further said “it is the local politicians and clergies(Buddhists, Muslims, Saivas and Christians), who   try to stop this national project.”  The local politicians, who like you to serve your constituency,  are mandated by the local people to seek right solutions for their grievances  and the clergies are the ones, who live with these issues and thoroughly understand the peoples’ concerns. Don’t you  like them carrying out  their duty, which is expected by  their people?   

There are laws in place to deal with these things. A piece of legislation, our Municipal Council and Urban Council Ordinance stop you passing the bug to  another local government jurisdiction. But you do regardless, this is an outright  violation of law. Also  the very constitution, that  you fought for   and were prepared to die for, including  any blatant breaches by the former President and his acolytes during the  52 days political  drama  in 2018, which  made entire world laugh at us.   And you were steadfast for upholding an unequivocally enshrined constitutional arrangement. As such  it is  our  constitutionally confirmed   fundamental right to have an unpolluted  environment for the current and future generations,  pure water, clean air and most importantly the inalienable   right  not to be  treated differently or less favourably than others. Now tell us Minister why the people of Puttalam should  be treated less favourably than any the other part of the country.   

The Earth Sumit in 2000 in Rio passed  a resolution adopting the “ Polluter Pays” Principle  of which  Sri Lanka is one of the signatories. It is not the people of Puttalam area, but people of the capital, its business entities, hospitals, government  departments that should bear the unpleasant consequence of their behaviours  in creating  uncontrollable  garbage in Colombo under  polluter pays principle..      

I expected the Minister  to come up with plausible arguments for his resolved position of sending  garbage created in Colombo to other places. Unfortunately his reasons for that were that: there are no   suitable places in Colombo or around the capital. Even it were accepted for the sake  an argument ,  then why Puttalam, why not Pollanaruwa, Hambanthotta or Kilinochchi or even Nuwarallia? The Minister’s answer in  replication    was that there are utilised and then   abandoned    limestone quarries only  in Puttalam . Is it?  We can take the Minister on a tour  up and down the country  to other quarries for him  to make a proper choice. 

It is a mystery that the Minister is not aware of the deforested limestone quarries are to be filled back (certainly not with garbage) and reforested according to the agreement signed between other government authorities and the cement corporation, a government entity at the beginning, which  then became a private one known as Holcim , and now operating  as Incee.

The President, the Prime minister, Minister  Cambika Ranawkka, leaders of minority parties, local NGOs, who were busy making  big headlines and hot topics  for their concerns for  the wildlife sanctuary at “Willpattu” , but have no iota  of empathy and sympathy  to the same Willpattu wildlife, inhabitants of the area, flora and fauna of the region.    

The Government, its Ministers  do not mind the  factual importance of the issue,  breaking the law of the county, existing agreements, not adhering the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people, and international convention etc. 

The people of Puttalam  may be  naïve, but not “Buruwas”(donkeys ). They are not  rebellious, but   are completely  innocent lot , believing that there will be the 11th hour God’s intervention to stop this disgusting garbage project. But it cannot be a good reasons for the Minister to suppress our fundamental right. So the big question now is will it be  the countdown for the Minister to go against the will of our people on 15th March 2019 or is it the God’s intervention  making us to initiate court proceedings to establish the people’s right?


-Mohamed SR. Nisthar. 
Co-editor, Sonakar.com

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