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Bandula Nanayakkarawasam



“I was in Grade Four when Sunil Ariyaratne wrote ‘Sakura Mal Pipila’. That song first made me realise how abstract music could be. In later years, as he and Nanda Malini went on to endeavours like Sathyaye Geethaya and Pavana, I matured. Even now, when you listen to ‘Perahera Enawa’, you feel nothing but admiration for a man who rebelled against tradition and order in what he wrote.

By Uditha Devapriya

Tissa Abeysekara once called Bandula Nanayakkarawasam “the brightest spark in the fifth generation of contemporary Sinhala songwriters.” He didn’t name the five generations, but he did observe that their ancestry began with Ananda Samarakoon. With this we can try to chart the evolution of 20th century songwriters in terms of the singers who embodied those generations: Samarakoon, Sunil Shantha, Amaradeva, Victor Ratnayake, and T. M. Jayaratne, Sanath Nandasiri, and Neela Wickramasinghe among others.

By doing so we can also discern the cultural, social, and political impulses that distinguished each of these periods: Samarakoon by the gramophone Tower Hall culture; Shantha by the Hela Havula, led by its two chief heralds Munidasa Cumaratunga and Raphael Tennakoon; Amaradeva by the post-war generation of lyricists, Mahagama Sekara, Madawala S. Ratnayake, and Chandrarathna Manawasinghe being the definitive trio; Victor by the first post-1956 generation wave, epitomised by Premakeerthi de Alwis, K. D. K. Dharmawardena, Sunil Ariyaratne, and Ajantha Ranasinghe; and those who followed them among the second post-1956 generation, among them Bandula Nanayakkarawasam, Lucian Bulathsinghala, Buddhadasa Galappaththy, and the great Ratna Sri Wijesinghe. I see Jackson Anthony has described Nanayakkarawasam as the last of his kind. If he’s not quite the last of his kind, he’s certainly the last anyone will be able to equal.

It’s important to locate Nanayakkarawasam in the wider social and cultural landscape of the country. The generation who followed the likes of Sunil Ariyaratne and Ajantha Ranasinghe were witnesses to some of the most widely felt changes in the economy: the adoption of free market policies, the privatisation of the cinema that democratised cultural tastes and standards, and the introduction of television that would eventually cripple the theatre and cinema. While earlier generations had found employment in the universities (Ariyaratne) and journalism (Ranasinghe), the new artistes, by dint of these vast changes, were compelled to seek refuge in the private sector; the State could no longer insure them against the vagaries of the economy. In this context, Nanayakkarawasam would take the occasional leave from his bank, come to Colombo, and record his show aboard the SLBC.

In fact, most of these artistes, working from nine to five, had to prioritise their employment over their artistic pursuits. Nanayakkarawasam was no exception. Palitha Perera, reflecting on his days in the SLBC, remembers trying to get the man “to do his own programmes in Colombo” and failing to entice him to leave his fulltime job at the bank.

The biggest irony was when Madawala S. Ratnayake decided to take Nanayakkarawasam to his programme Yawwana Samajaya; as with other attempts, this too failed to get the man to leave his banking career. For Palitha though, it was more a fortunate coincidence than a missed opportunity: “Given what happened to the SLBC later on, it was Bandula’s luck that he didn’t end up wasting away here.” I’m sure that Bandula, being the self-effacing man he is, would disagree, but I am convinced, given the plight the likes of Palitha fell into in later years, that it was his luck which kept him away.

Nanayakkarawasam was born in Galle, around two or three kilometres from town. His childhood was, in his own words, quite fortunate in terms of the education he received. His first encounter with music had been a large Mullard radio bought by his uncle, a connoisseur of the arts who had apparently been a collector of rare items and instruments. “Since we lived at a time when not even the richest families from our neighbourhood owned a radio, big or small, owning a Mullard was certainly a big deal.”

The contraption had entranced young Bandula in more ways than one. “Back then we had just two local services run by one station, Radio Ceylon. It was on this radio that I first ‘obtained’ an education in music. I was also the youngest in my family by a wide margin, my podi akka being eight years older than me. Naturally, I was a bit of a loner in my house, and in my free time, which I never lacked even when I was at school, I used to place my ears on it and listen to songs.” He jokingly tells me that he once believed that the singers and announcers who sang and spoke were hidden in that device: “So when I listened to it during a thunderstorm and loku akka warned me that when lightning struck it would break apart, I honestly believed her. At the time I would have been five.”

I ask him whether he looked for the lyrics in a song. “Not really. We first hear a tune, then a voice, then a name. It was in my time that people like Victor Ratnayake and Sanath Nandasiri emerged. Amaradeva came before them. As a child I went for Victor’s songs because of his voice.” I put to him that the likes of Victor emerged as a result of the efforts Amaradeva made. “Yes. It was thanks to Victor that we realised how poetic Amaradeva’s lyrics were. But poetry didn’t figure highly in me then.”

His interest in the arts developed beyond music. His father, a firm leftist and an avid reader, would give him as much as 100 rupees to buy books. “I used to go to a store owned by a man called Lionel and purchase as much as I could, because back then a book cost four rupees.” He would get hooked on to Russian literature, which he says made him see the world in a different light, even through translation. “We had novels, short story collections, and poetry published by Progress Publishers. I indulged in them all.”

Young Bandula was sent to Richmond College, where his teachers inculcated in him a wider appreciation of what he’d grown to love. “One of my English teachers was a man called W. S. Bandara. He introduced me to the English translations of Chekhov, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and Turgenev. It was then that I realised how woefully inadequate our translators were. Of course there were exceptions like K. G. Karunathilaka, but barring them the others didn’t feel the text they were working on.”

Apparently the radio figured so much in his life that he couldn’t really do without it even when studying. “A man called Jinasena lent me some flexible wires, which I then used on an American speaker which belonged to my uncle. Our house overlooked a wel yaya. When I listened to the radio in my room while studying Arithmetic, that wel yaya was always in my sight. That was the kind of childhood and education I had.” As he grew up though, it wasn’t just songs that he listened to but other programmes too: E. W. Adikaram’s Vidya Dahanaya, Mahinda Ranaweera’s Sithijaya, Lucien Bulathsinghala’s Sandella, H. M. Gunasekera’s Irida Sangrahaya, and Tissa Abeysekara’s Art Magazine. It should be mentioned that Bandula got to host Irida Sangrahaya in the 1980s, “a happy coincidence given that my father, who grew up listening to Gunasekara with me, was now listening to his son presenting it.”

Curious as to what his tastes were, I then ask whether he differentiated between “low” and “high” art. “That came later. But back then we read and we exchanged newspapers with our neighbours.

So we weren’t completely ignorant of this divide between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. For instance, I came across Jayawilal Wilegoda’s articles on the cinema. Wilegoda lambasted Sinhala films that imitated Bollywood. People like him were asking questions like how a popular verse like ‘jeevithaye kanthare thurunu wiyali walle uthura gala yayi adare’ made sense, when they didn’t. By the time we grew up and passed adolescence, we knew about this divide. The important thing is it didn’t intimidate us.”

Bandula’s reference to films isn’t arbitrary: even the cinema had entranced him. To put all his encounters here would be impossible, though. Suffice it to say that he entertained the idea of being a scriptwriter at one point, even getting into the Sri Lanka Television Training Institute (or SLTTI) along with Sumitra Rahubadda, K. B. Herath, and Douglas Siriwardena. “I was taught by Tissa Abeysekara.” Notwithstanding his stints at the SLTTI, though, he didn’t get to become a full time scriptwriter until later, with a TV adaptation of T. B. Ilangaratne’s Vilambita, directed by Lakshman Wijesekara and telecast on Swarnavahini.

He gets back to his musical career. “I was in Grade Four when Sunil Ariyaratne wrote ‘Sakura Mal Pipila’. That song first made me realise how abstract music could be. In later years, as he and Nanda Malini went on to endeavours like Sathyaye Geethaya and Pavana, I matured. Even now, when you listen to ‘Perahera Enawa’, you feel nothing but admiration for a man who rebelled against tradition and order in what he wrote. The two of them taught me about the potential of a song. I can’t write about the things they explored with such vigour, but that doesn’t take away my admiration for them.”

It was under these circumstances that Nanayakkarawasam began what would become a very popular programme , in 2011. Rae Ira Pana picked up audiences so fast it defied the findings of the ratings agencies, which consistently demeaned it. Having shifted from one channel to another, it ended “for good” in 2015 and transformed into its own live show on March 10, 2017 at Nelum Pokuna, followed by a second show in November at the Polgolla Mahinda Rajapaksa Auditorium; two years later, on March 10, Bandula hosted a third show at the Karapitiya Auditorium in Galle, and on October 12 that year he organised a fourth at the BMICH. Nanayakkarawasam found in them all an ideal opportunity to do what he did from his days at the SLBC in the 1980s: tell us the story behind an objet d’art.

How viral did it become exactly? “People would come up to me showing me their pen drives and saying that they had recorded every, or every other, Rae Ira Pana show since 2011. I was just dumbfounded, because the ratings didn’t show it as a popular programme at all. I knew then that such agency findings, while scientific and verifiable, were in no way a measure of actual popularity outside the numbers. When it was jettisoned from one radio station after another, and when it evolved into its own live event, I came to realise it could be used to bring people together for worthy causes.”

What about now? According to Bandula, the Sinhala lyric is progressively deteriorating in quality. I ask him whether this is because our generation isn’t as receptive to the abstract in art as his had been. He tells me he doesn’t think so. “We’ve commercialised music, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we’re confused about what a popular song is. When was the last time you heard a meaningful bus sinduwa?”

I suggest here that things would certainly have been better in his time, but he agrees only half heartedly. “You suggested earlier that we’ve de-sensitised ourselves so much that we can’t appreciate art. This isn’t something new. In my day, to give you an example, there was a vocalist called Piyasiri Wijeratne. He isn’t remembered today because he wasn’t a very prodigious artiste. In later years, Tissa Abeysekara would observe that Piyasiri possessed one of the best voices in this country. But did we recognise him then? No.”

I see his point. Blaming some imaginary malaise for the “cultural desert” we seem to find ourselves stranded in today blinds us, to an extent at least, to the fact that in each and every epoch our music “industry” has faced a huge deficit.

Besides, and this is putting it mildly, I don’t hear Nanayakkarawasam much on the bus.

That should tell us something.

The writer can be reached at

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Sat Mag

Teach students animal rights for a better world



Five years ago, I requested the Head of the Bar Council of India to get animal welfare introduced as a subject in the law colleges. He did it immediately. The result has been much more sensitive and informed lawyers, an annual moot court that is hosted by NLU Bangalore, PhDs in animal welfare (the first one was in NLU Cuttack), more people aware of animal welfare activism and far more sensitive judges. A big thank you to Shri Manan Kumar Mishra!

22 years ago, at the instance of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, who supported all new ideas, we built the National Institute for Animal Welfare in Ballabgarh. Unfortunately, the government fell when it was ready. The Congress shut it down, and now the BJP is in its seventh year without restarting it. The Minister for Environment gave it to JNU. They fooled around for 2 years and then returned it to the Ministry, who slept on it for two years and then handed it to Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, who have ignored it for three years and only now have appointed a retired vet to make a course. I have lost all hope. In 2002, I wrote out all the courses, made some textbooks, contacted Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, for teachers, got a grant from UNEP for the library. But nothing has happened and nothing ever will. The magnificent seven-acre centre now houses ten people of the Animal Welfare Board of India and runs “awareness” courses of three days each for the student vets of The Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS).

But there are huge job opportunities for trained animal welfare people: shelter managers, gaushala managers, laboratory managers, forest and wildlife officers, city management of animals, elephant rescue centres, city snake rescuers, poultries, slaughterhouses, to begin with and hundreds of others. I simply cannot understand why it has taken so long for even one course to begin.

A huge thank you to the Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, Prof. Nageshwar Rao, and to Professor P. V. K. Sasidhar, for starting the first-degree related course in India for animal welfare. Prof. Sasidhar has been labouring at the modules for over three years now. The first session itself has over 800 students!

It is a PG Diploma in Animal Welfare (PGDAW) and the admissions are open for the January 2021 Session. The Online Admissions ink:

The PGDAW programme is meant for animal welfare volunteers and professionals across India, and for graduates / post-graduates interested in studying animal welfare. I have seen the learning module and I like it. I wish I had been able to compile the 3000+ articles I have written on every aspect of animal welfare. They could have been part of the course. But my editor has been fooling around with the 7 volume compilations for 5 years now, and I have no idea when she will be done. National Book Trust had offered to print them all, but not even the first volume is ready.

The IGNOU course has four core components: Animal welfare science and ethics, Animal welfare issues, Animal welfare laws and policies, and Animal welfare practices and standards.

Animal welfare is concerned about the welfare of all animals that are managed in some way by humans. Farm animal welfare means the care of animals grown for milk and meat, and that is where animals suffer the most. Welfare issues, pertaining to working, performing, companion, zoo, lab and street animals, need a great deal of attention as well. The PGDAW programme, in 85 modules, has covered welfare, science, ethics, issues, laws and standards, of all farm and draught animals – cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, working animals like donkeys and horses, performing animals, pets, zoo and lab animals. These modules have been developed in collaboration with The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, University of Edinburgh, UK.

It’s a one-year course, and graduates from any discipline can take it. It has two objectives: To impart science-based animal welfare education through open and distance learning. To build the capacities of stakeholders to take socially responsible decisions concerning animal welfare. The total fee of the course is Rs. 5400/-.

Who should take this course : Obviously all young people interested in animals, Employees Working in Animal Welfare Organizations/NGOs/Gaushalas, Faculty, Researchers, Technical Staff & PG/PhD Students in Universities, Research Organizations and Veterinary Colleges, Veterinarians / Para-veterinarians in State Central Government/RVC & Para-Military Forces, Members of State Animal Welfare Boards/SPCAs, Members of CPCSEA/ Institutional Animal Ethics Committees /Animal House Facilities, Civil Servants, Officials and Researchers Working in Forest Departments, Zoos and Wild Life Institutes, Faculty and Research Scholars under Zoological Survey of India and Zoology Departments, Law Professionals and Police Personnel dealing with Animal Welfare Laws and their Enforcement, Graduates Seeking Career as Animal Welfare Professionals.

Ideally, I would make it compulsory for all schools – if we want a better India.

The Programme Coordinator, Prof. P.V.K. Sasidhar, School of Extension and Development Studies, IGNOU, New Delhi (e-mail:, has great credentials himself. He has been in the Agricultural Research Service of ICAR (2003-09), a Norman Borlaug Fellow of USDA, Tuskegee University, USA (2008), USAID Fellow, Michigan State University, USA (2015), and an OIE Performance of Veterinary Services Evaluator, OIE (2018).

 If you want to join this, now is the time. Also, if you have suggestions to make it better, write to the Professor. I would recommend it for activists in Sri Lanka and Nepal as well, as the issues are the same.

( To join the animal welfare movement contact,

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Sat Mag




A tale of a boy’s courage

By Uditha Devapriya

Situated at Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, the Planetarium continues to captivate and fascinate, yet unless you strain your eyes, you can easily miss it. It’s one of those places you go to, through a prior appointment, and emerge from wishing you could go back in again. I must have been in Grade Five when I visited it on a class trip in 2004. Supun Jayasinghe was in Grade Five, too, when he went there with the rest of his class seven years later. The only exception, apart from the year of the visit, was where he came from: a 100 miles away, in Dambulla. It was the first time he had been to the city.

Intriguing and exhilarating as such a trip may have been, he had other things in his head. A few months later, he wouldbe sitting the Grade Five Scholarship Exam. How would he study for it? What marks would he score? Where would he go, if those marks turned out to be high? These questions nagged him, yet for the moment he let them off.

In any case, the ride had been exhausting: having started at four in the morning, it was about nine when the bus entered the city. It made its way to Independence Avenue, and from there towards the University of Colombo.

Between Independence Avenue and Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, the Race Course faces Royal College. Intrigued by the Arcade, then the College, Supun and his classmates turned to their teacher. Standing up, he looked at them and described what they were, laying emphasis on the school more than the complex. Having described it in detail – the oldest public school, the most popular such institution, and so on – he brought the discussion back to his audience. “You have your scholarship exams this year,” he reminded them. “Try scoring as high as you can, because if you do, you’ll get a chance to come and study there.”

The memory of those words remained in Supun for a long time. The moment he heard them, he vowed to get as high a mark as he could, to get that chance, to come here.

Whatever the shortcomings of the Scholarship Exam may be, there’s no denying that it has opened up a world of opportunity for an aspiring lower middle-class. Supun’s father, a businessman, and mother, a teacher, hailed from this middle-class. Having attended a local Montessori and a Model School, he spent the whole of 2011 studying for the exam, forfeiting what little free time he had poring over books under a tree in his front yard. Yet, while he hit the books as hard and as much as he could, he did not push himself to compete with his peers. He’d told everyone he would ace the paper, but that owed less to a desire to be the best in the class than to a yearning to enter the best school he thought there was.

In any case, he got what he wanted. The marks came home somewhere in December 2011: having aimed at 180, he had scored 186. An even better piece of news came soon afterwards: the cut-off mark for Royal in 2012 happened to be 182. This meant only one thing: he would be boarded at the College Hostel, the following month, the following year.

The decision to go to Colombo did not come easy. Supun’s mother had opposed it at first, claiming it was too far. The marks were what convinced her. Even so, going to a city he’d only heard about and seen just once, and choosing to stay there for the better part of the next seven or so years, was a challenge. How would he fit in? What would he have to adjust to? Did people act there the way they did here? Did they differ in how they studied, read books, wrote answers? How they ate, drank, walked, and talked? He had much to think about, and as the weeks drew the year to a close, not much time to think them over.

Before everything, of course, there was the question of visiting the Hostel. On January 8 a letter arrived at his home, notifying them that the new term would commence a few weeks later, and that an orientation would be held before it did, on January 20.

Excited as he was, Supun nevertheless felt uneasy. On January 19, he and his father made their way to a rented house at Mount Lavinia, where a not-so distant relative lived. The next day came slowly, excruciatingly slowly. “I couldn’t sleep, I did not want to,” he remembers it today. Somehow, the night passed, and the following morning, having consulted and checked out at an auspicious time, the two of them made their way to Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s public schools, in particular those whose origins go back to the 19th century, are distinctly British in their architecture. The historian K. M. de Silva not unjustifiably calls it bland, unremarkable, and passé, when compared with Portuguese and Dutch architecture. For all their blandness, though, the British invested these buildings with an aura of expansiveness, with corridors giving way to gardens, quadrangles, and still other corridors.

Finding their way through an endless maze of entrances and exits, Supun and his father could not locate the Hostel. When they finally did, they were ushered into an orientation. Supun remembers two things from that day: his new class (6N), and the school song. The latter awed him: he hadn’t listened to many English songs, let alone school anthems, until then.

Having returned home after the orientation, father and son were told that the new term would begin five days later, on January 25. The second time around they came to Colombo in a car. Starting the journey of more than a hundred miles at four in the morning, they arrived at their destination at one or two in the afternoon.

At the Hostel the usual procedure was followed. The seniors directed him to his room. Each room had bunker beds. Not used to sleeping on them, he chose the first compartment, sharing the bunker with three others. When the last of the parents left, he predictably felt his nerves on the edge. The old fears returned: would he be able to fit in?

As with all public schools located in the city, the history of Royal College has woven itself into the history of its surroundings. Confusing at first, its topography extends from one end to another, covering a great many sites. To socialise into and familiarise himself with such an environment physically was not, however, tough for Supun. The real challenge lay elsewhere: the all too ubiquitous presence of English, and the melange of race and religion within the classroom. In other words, language proficiency plus cultural assimilation.

Glancing through his achievements from then, it struck me how his resolve stood out in them all. Back in Dambulla he had neither let the achievements of his peers ruffle him nor allowed himself to be overtaken by a desire to do better than them. He always, for instance, came first at his first school, but not because he wanted to beat everyone else to it; he just wanted to do something, and when he put his mind to it, he tried to do it somehow, on his own.

In Colombo this remained his philosophy. Whether it was winning creative composition and literary criticism prizes, becoming Junior Prefect (2015) and Junior Steward (2018), right before winding up as Steward (2019) and Chairman or Secretary of a great many clubs and societies (to list just some: Philatelic, Science, Library Readers), he let himself into whatever he took a fancy to. He did not, however, abandon his academics; studying for his O Levels, he ended up with nine As. Needless to say, on the field and in the class, at studies and sports, he confronted, and got over, those two challenges of proficiency and assimilation.

Supun’s story, I realise when I read through it, at once reflects and deviates from the norm. Reflects, because it conforms to the general pattern (initial difficulties at getting used to life in the city being followed by assimilation into the cultural and social patterns of that city), and deviates from, because his willpower is hard to find among his peers, or at least most of them. There is a reason for that: born with congenital anomalies on his right hand and leg, he has refused to let them get in his way, having won medals at the Para Games (2018) as well as for volleyball, boxing, table tennis, hockey, baseball, scouting (with a President’s Badge in 2019 to boot). By all accounts, this is to be admired, as it should be even now.

Steven Kemper dedicates the last chapter of his book on advertising in Sri Lanka (Buying and Believing) to a Sinhala lower middle-class family, residing in the outskirts of Colombo, who manage to realise their aspirations through their second son gaining entry to Supun’s school. Kemper, ever sensitive to the vagaries of class, points out how two-pronged entering a better school can be: a “singular opportunity”, yet one that comes with the price of accommodation “in a hostel.” Boarding their son, the family later relocates to Colombo. They make that move because they have to: the son is their link to the city, and to all it represents.

This country is home to a great many families who aspire for a better life, and one way through which they seek that life is education: not merely what you study, but where you study. Supun’s case is therefore illustrative: it’s the story of every other middle-class child. What’s interesting is how their integration to the city has brought about a transformation in the country’s elite schools. In that sense Supun’s story, as with that of the family in Kemper’s book, is not only illustrative, but also instructive. A Senior Prefect today, waiting for his A Level results, he finishes the conversation with a simple personal credo: “I’ve always aimed high and big, and I think I’ve always got there.” I am inclined to agree.

The writer can be reached at

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Sat Mag

Cleaner production – an urgent need



By Dr. Debapriya Mukherjee
Former Senior Scientist
Central Pollution Control Board, India

If we look into the areas close to the industrial sector, production of pollutants particularly from Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) has damaged the natural environment by excess emission of wastewater, gas or other solid waste. Environmental agencies are failing miserably in controlling pollution from most of the SMEs across the country. SME contributes asignificant fraction of total environmental burden in developing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. Despite enforcement of environmental acts and regulations, the consumption of huge quantities of resources and energy, within a remarkably short period through industrial production had a far-reaching influence on natural environment. Reducing this burden needs environmental improvement at the micro level, a goal which has been stubbornly elusive in India. 

According to my observations, the major problems in SMEs, are old technologies, poor management practices, limited availability of funds, inadequately trained officials, lack of appropriate inspection and monitoring and overall sustainable gap between enforcement agencies, industries and communities because impassivity of top management in environmental sector and political will have impeded sustainable environment management.  Regulatory pressure on the SMEs could not implicate positive effect on environment to maintain sound ecosystem as observed in many areas close to SMEs such as foundry, sponge iron, electroplating industry, food processing, tannery and others. 

Environment Sustainability (ES) to maintain wholesomeness of the environment by controlling production of pollutants has been practically jeopardized. The possible reason is that several industrial complexes have been established without considering environmental and social impacts and thereby sustainability of industrial development is not gaining momentum. This dismal ES remains well hidden because social aspects (such as human rights, corruption, poverty, child mortality, land degradation, illiteracy and health problems) and their interrelation with economic and environment aspects are not considered with due emphasis by the regulatory agencies. The traditional approach of enforcing environmental acts and regulations is unable to explain and address the complex dynamic inter-relation among economics, environmental and social aspects with time. Though environmental impact assessment and environmental management system as per the Environment (Protection) Ac are mandatory to establish and to operate any project but, ES, and social benefits are always questionable. Industrial growth without ES under prevailing socio-economic condition is definitely neglected and delayed.

Survey of these industries reveals that SMEs are mainly dependent on end-of pipe(EOP) technology and their functionality are not consistent. Regulatory pressure compelled these industries to install a pollution control system for compliance with standards. But non-compliance is a common feature due to non-availability/ non-operation/ failure of pollution control system. Though regulatory agencies inspect the industries once or twice a year they are unable to ensure consistent control of pollution. Also, the regulatory authority cannot evaluate the different compliance level and thereby violation of standard to any extent is subject to the same penalties as it is marginal violation. Environmental managers can easily control the pollution level within a permissible limit during inspection by manipulating raw materials feeding and/or by operating the pollution control devices. It is not always feasible with limited trained/experienced personnel to conduct in-depth study on material and water balance in order to justify the quantity of pollutants emitted to environment based on the monitoring data. Enforcement agencies put emphasis on performance evaluation of EOP technology as per the stipulated standard without considering ecological crisis and social problems in the area closed to the industries.  As a result, owners of the industries are not serious to initiate CP despite economic benefits associated with its implementation.  On the contrary, owners of the industries are well versed on how to tackle an adverse situation temporarily and make their units in operation. Regulatory agencies  issue time to time   closure notices or directives to improve the performance of pollution control system to the non-compliant industries.  In response to these notices, owners of the industries with the help of outside experts, find out temporary solution with little financial investment just to fulfill the legal requirement and not “real” requirement. As a result, actual compliance status over time remains well hidden and thereby environmental and social problems remain unattended. One ofthe reasons may be vested interests of the concerned officers entrusted for verification of the report. Otherwise why water, air and soil are still so much polluted?

In this context it may be  mentioned that the majority of residents are poor and do not have access to higher authorities for solving their problems as well as they are not well educated to explain their sufferings to the media/press highlighting ecological crisis created by these industries. Government has already launched various projects to remove poverty, to educate the people, to provide health facility and to create environmental awareness among the people to highlight the  pollution problem,  but implementation status of these projects is not always satisfactory. This has resulted environmental and social problems reaching alarming proportion in many industrial clusters in India and simply visual inspections supplement these findings. Limitations in government’s actions to solve the problems are not disseminated via media for public awareness for various reasons. Moreover accountability of government employees for implementing the projects in terms of success and failure is not properly evaluated because knowledge and hardship required for evaluating degree of success are practically lacking. 

This problem in regulatory organization, may be attributed to top management persons because they often recruit either new scientists/engineers or retired government engineers/scientists on the basis of political connections or bribes or nepotism to look after activities related to environment management but their style of management clearly exhibit impassivity towards CP implementation because of their poor technical capability. Whereas huge potential offered by the country’s young population is far from being leveraged. Also many highly qualified young scientists/engineers refuse to take up the challenging works related to environment management in these organizations because of the lack of knowledgeable and skilled experts to guide the newly recruited personnel, hostile environment and bureaucracy. 

This is really a disturbing situation. Thereby, India needs innovative minds to meet its formidable challenges. For this, both the state and central governments should take urgent action and must appoint highly qualified, broad-minded top most officers, who will recruit qualified competent engineers/scientists and give them state-of-the-art technology based on sound scientific evidence with no external interference. Fixing our organization system will require a complete overhaul of the recruitment system, changes in environment policy and implementation of CP concept in these SMEs. According to UN Environmental Progrmme (UNEP) CP is the continuous application of an integrated, preventive environmental strategy towards processes, products and services in order to increase overall efficiency and reduce damage and risks for humans and the environment. However this will be difficult with the present disconnect between science and policy in these organizations.

My experience clearly established the economic efficiency of CP through incremental innovation based on  production process optimization and thereby the payback period of investment towards CP technology was short.   Unfortunately, in India actual level of implementation of CP in industries in particular all SMEs as found in other countries  to deliver environmental advantage is not determined. Therefore, evaluation of actual environmental and economic performance improvement is an emergent need to maintain sustainable industrial development, social welfare, social equity and sound ecosystem. In India, the manufacturing industries and the government can play a major role in this sustainable development.  However, community pressure followed by enforcement of environmental acts and regulation has slowly changed the attitude of these industries but overall success towards consistent compliance is still a distant dream. 

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