Connect with us

Features

Devoid of preconceptions and bias for and against

Published

on

A Fresh Look at Solar Energy:

By Eng Parakrama Jayasinghe

Parajaysinghe@gmail.com

The earth receives enough solar energy in one hour, adequate to meet the entire energy needs of the world for a year. In this equation Sri Lanka is placed in a most advantageous position being a tropical island with over 200 days of sunshine annually anywhere . Also the intensity of solar radiation as estimated by the NREL and published in the documents of the Sustainable Energy Authority show that the Global Horizontal Irradiation (GHI) is over 1700 kWh/m2 over most of the country, except for some small segment of the hill country. The best areas can boast of over 1750 kWh/m2/year. This relates to a solar PV potential up to 1637 kWh/kWp in the best locations. ( See www.energy.gov.lk) Those who have opted to install roof top solar PV, including me, which are not necessarily the optimal orientation can safely expect the generation to be 110 kWh/kW/month averaged over the year including the cloudy and rainy days.

So Sri Lanka is very well endowed with this bounty of nature!

But with all this energy year round why is solar energy is not being pursued diligently in Sri Lanka?

Even with the projected demand of 30,890 GWh in 2030, the area required, if we want to get this entire energy form the sun is only 390 square kilometers. Which is only 0.60 % of the total land area of the country. The DG of the SLSEA Dr. Asanka Rodrigo has calculated that this area amounts to only 10 % of the scrub lands, reported as 1.6 million ha by the Ministry of lands. But then no one is planning to get all our electricity from solar PV. The current annual electricity demand is 18542 GWH. Suppose we target a contribution of say 25% of this demand, the area requirement of only 53.5 square kilometers or 5350 ha.( Ref Draft LTEGP 2020-2039) Does not sound too daunting does it?

But the inescapable reality is that sun shines only during the day even if we are lucky to get 12 hours of it, the solar insolation varied during the sunshine hours. And there are cloudy days and even a passing cloud would reduce the intensity of energy received.

It is this none firm nature and the diurnal availability which has been the main disadvantage and the barrier for wider exploitation of this unenviable natural resource. Also the cost of solar PV was found prohibitive even 5-10 years ago.

 

Winds ( Solar?) of Change

But all that is in the past. Now solar energy is the cheapest source for power generation except perhaps wind power and major hydro. Solutions have been found to overcome the problem variability and diurnal nature, in many countries.

This is done in two ways, first by accepting the reality of variable nature and system of forecasting the weather patterns and also taking advantage of the wide distribution of the solar systems, particularly the roof top installations. Thus taken as a combined system and not as single installations, present a less formidable picture. Of course the utilities must be clever enough to factor in this diversity.

On the other hand the use of storage devices, particularly storage batteries has solved this problem entirely. The 100 MW battery installed by Tesla in Hornsdale south Australia initiated a revolution. Now other utilities are vying with each other to install larger and larger. That is of course except for Sri Lanka which opts to remain in the last century when it comes to the electricity sector.

But we in Sri Lanka has the largest battery already installed in the shape of major Hydro reservoirs supporting 1399 MW of power generation capacity. All we lack is the courage and are too backwards in our thinking to recognize this asset and its immense value in conjunction with the literally unlimited solar potential and also coupled with the wind resource.

So it is time to consider and how we can use this bounty to the maximum, and not looking for reasons why it cannot be done, when it is already proven it to be technically and commercially feasible.

So let us look at the often stated problems.

Lack of Adequate Land

As already shown we need only 0.6 % of the land area even if we depend 100% on solar in 2030. But a more pragmatic vison indicated that we need only 0.33 % of the land for us to elevate the contribution up to 25% by 2030. But even this extent of lands, need not be targeted as there are other options. What should be our target for 2030, if we are to strive to achieve the President’s goal of 80% RE by 2030? As a viable and eminently achievable target I suggest 5000 MW, which would yield 8760 GWH per year or 28% of the total energy demand of 30890 GWH. How much of this can come from solar roof tops? An estimate of 3000 MW has been suggested as shown below.

Total Number of bill paying consumers 6,350,000 ( CEB own statistics 2018)

Assume 20% would opt for roof top solar 1,250,000 consumers

Tottal Solar Capacity @ 3 kW 3,750 MW

So the land requirement is only for the balance 2000 MW of solar parks or only 109 Sq Km or 10900 ha.

The thousands of reservoirs and lagoons would eminently serve our space requirement for the solar parks, with the added advantage of improved conversion efficiency on one hand, and the reduction of evaporation loss of the reservoir water on the other.

Sri Lanka has 62500 ha of reservoir area and 161,500 ha of lagoons dotted all over the country. So even a significant proportion of the area required, can be considered to come from these water bodies making this question of land availability a storm in a tea cup.

How do we handle variability?

The first option is to live with it however, idiotic that may sound. So as mentioned earlier with adequate number of installations there is a certain fraction of firm power that would be available but of course during the sun shine hours. The engineers at CEB must work out how to handle this to the best advantage, which of course needs thinking big and planning big to consider a little more than the area covered by a distribution transformer. But also we have the advantage of 1340 MW of hydro power which could be kept entirely away from the grid during day time, as well as shutting down the diesel guzzlers for good. In case someone asks the question, recently South Australia managed the entire day time hours with only solar energy as shown below.

Is there any technical reason why we in Sri Lanka cannot do the same thing, perhaps with a battery/batteries only of adequate capacity to iron out the dips to be expected during the day and to manage the night peak as shown below. That’s the challenge we must accept.

 

Where are we now?

It is not all gloom and doom. Over the past few years many things have been moving forward albeit much too slowly for our liking. We have now over 250 MW of grid connected Solar PV roof top installations by about 25,000 consumers and the number is rising. Added to that are over 50 MW of solar parks already connected and hopefully, at least some out of the 300 MW of 1 MW scale solar parks already tendered for should get built.

Sri Lanka can be proud of being most innovative and progressive by the introduction of the net metering system further improved by the three systems under the Surya Bala Sangraamaya. This is the most important shift in policy which led to the exponential growth in the solar PV roof top , which brought in its wake, many more spin off benefits, too many to list here. Therefore Sri Lanka should salute those who had the courage to bring in this legislation, whoever wishes to take credit for it. It is the responsibility of those claiming parentage of this innovation to ensure it is not allowed to be sabotaged as unfortunately some people are trying , including those in authority who fail to appreciate its value and immense potential. It is sad to see propaganda based on entirely incorrect numbers perhaps purposely designed to deceive, being used in this disruptive campaigns.

 

What does the immediate future offer us?

If the present format of the Surya Bala Sangraamaya is allowed to continue as it should, including the tariff structure , a most ambitious and visionary program has been proposed by the State Minister to install 100,000 rooftop solar PV systems targeting the Samurdhi Recipients. The capacity of each is estimated to be about 5-6 kW under the Net Plus scheme. Leveraging on the ADB funded loan scheme and an attractive low interest rate of 4%, this project can be entirely funded by the loan scheme and has the greatest advantage of the loan installment payments being made from the monthly income of exporting the generated energy to the national grid. It is also expected that the consumer will have a surplus in excess of the normal Samurdhi payment he would have otherwise received from the government, which will now not be forthcoming. Once the loan is paid up the consumer will receive a very substantial monthly income way above the Rs 2,500, he would otherwise have received, and would also have the satisfaction of being a contributor to the national energy mix thus joining the growing band of ” Prosumers”

This is indeed a win-win opportunity where by the country will gain at least 500 MW addition to the grid, without any capital expenditure by the treasury and an added saving of Rs 3000 Million every year by offsetting the 100,000 Samurdhi payments. The CEB too will make a saving by the avoidance of equivalent amount of expensive oil based power generation. We only hope that the CEB will proactively work towards ensuring the success of this project without trotting out the usual slogans.

The most tantalizing target is the 1.4 Million Samurdhi recipients who can be up lifted from eternal poverty at no cost to the government.

The State Ministers programme deserves the proactive support of all concerned by removing any road blocks that could appear in implementing this courageous by daunting project.

The CEB must be congratulated for launching a similar innovative project in parallel to clear the way for local investors to implement 10,000 mini solar parks, targeting the 100 kW distribution transformers dotted round the country. A recent Cabinet decision has already approved the project with the identified 7000 transformers that could be used for this scheme. Thus the possibility of adding a further 1000 MW of Solar power to the grid is already on the cards with the blessing of the CEB who are best placed to ensure its success.

 

Therefore if the above two schemes are implemented, not deterred by any minor glitches which should be addressed proactively, Sri Lanka too can play catch me with our neighbours in the race for solar power.

Several other larger solar parks have been in the planning for some time. The 100 MW solar park in Siyambaladuwa is expected to be tendered for soon.

 

The major challenge ahead

Our energy future needs to be “Electrical”. Solar energy paves the way and could also become the most important player by democratising the electrical generation industry. Thus the future generators of the electricity will be the consumers themselves as ” Prosumers”

The most important nationwide impact it the indigenization of the energy industry both the resources as well as the owners and operators of the facilities. This has immense impacts on the balance of payments and long term energy security and in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

This note is designed only to highlight the great opportunity awaiting us, only if we have the courage and the vision to exploit same for Sri Lanka. The feasibility of doing so has been proven all over the world, even where the resource is much less pronounced. Do we as professionals accept this challenge to justify our claim for excellence and national service?



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Features

Ranjan loses the People’s Crown

Published

on

Last week it was Avurudu Thel Keliya. Now we have come to Ranjan Keliya. 

SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake has been removed from Parliament, in what is said to be in keeping with the decision of the Court of Appeal, to reject his application against the Supreme Court order sentencing him to four years of imprisonment for Contempt of court.

A parliament, of which Ranjan was a most active and spoken member, has shown its overall failure to deal with an issue that affects the rights of all citizens. The mockery of it all is to have a parliament where a person found guilty of murder and imprisoned by a court order is allowed to be a member of the House, but a person guilty of contempt of Court, who has not injured or killed anyone, is removed from it.

With all due respect and honour to the judiciary, one must begin to look at the entire thinking and process of charging people for and punishing them for contempt of Court. 

In the present parliamentary situation, with all the power that the President and the government have with a two-thirds plus majority, the future Independence of the Judiciary is certainly in question.

If Ramanayake has committed contempt of Court, he is now the player in calling for a change of our legislation on Contempt of Court. Is it truly wrong to criticise a member/or members of the judiciary; are they above the law; what is the practice and trend on this in other democracies?

It is time our Members of Parliament, the Bar Association and organizations of Civil Society made deep study of this entire issue, and moved to prevent the right of free speech being incorrectly restricted. We must look at how Contempt of Court is considered legally in the UK, from where we got this.

How is Contempt of court handled by the Courts of India, our closest neighbour and next to us in years of democracy? How is this issue handled in other democracies too such as France and Germany, and even the US? 

The Ranjan  Keliya  has certainly brought us to realising the Contempt for Democracy that prevails, and is being expanded in Sri Lanka. This contempt is the reality of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, and the prevailing show of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ‘Saubhagye Dekma”.    Changing our laws on Contempt of Court to make them modern and democratic will be the real crowning of Ramanayake.

 

Beauty Queen crowns

We have now come to the Ru Rajina Otunu Keliya too. The story of the crown being grabbed from the new Mrs Sri Lanka has spread in the international media. 

There was a lovely piece of social media, where Queen Elizabeth II of the UK is showing her joy at getting rid of Sri Lanka from the royalty domain as far back as 1948, as otherwise there would have been moves to grab her crown, too.

Mrs Sri Lanka or Mr. World is certainly not of much interest to us who are facing much bigger problems than the ownership of beauty crowns. Yet, the issue of a Mrs Sri Lanka or Mrs World having to be married does raise many issues today. Are the organizers of the global event thinking of temporary or shaky marriages, or those that last through decades and more, with a commitment to each other?

Can a person, who is undergoing the process of a divorce in a court of law, one who wants to leave a marriage through the law, be one who is really married? The very concept of marriage has undergone many changes in recent decades. Should these realities not be accepted by the organisers of these events? 

Why not have a rule that a contestant for Mrs (Country) or Mrs World, should be married several times – as is fast becoming a reality in the west, and countries that are following such traditions.

We will certainly have candidates seeking the crown if a few or many marriages are a condition. It will also show a genuine interest in the promotion of marriages, without confining it to just a single marriage, even with a pending divorce.   

We can then have a Mrs World, with a show of strength to those with achievements of more than one, or several marriages. 

The “Vivahaka Ru Rajina” will then be a “Boho Vivahaka Ru Rajina”.

The current Mrs World, Caroline Jurie, who was the key crown remover in this show of crooked farce, and a model who helped her, are now facing action in the courts.

Marriage or not is certainly an issue for Miss or Mrs Sri Lanka. A winner of the very early Mrs Sri Lanka events had earlier contested a Miss Sri Lanka, while being married. If she had not lost the contest, we would have seen loud calls for her crown to be removed. The senior ladies who played a big role in this Mrs. Sri Lanka event, certainly reminded us of such past records.

Let the crown be with the people, whether married or not. The rising call is for the Janatha Kirula, against a Pol Thel or Seeni Vancha Kirula of the Abhagye  Dekma.

Continue Reading

Features

Bio-Piracy:

Published

on

A Pervasive Threat to Biodiversity and Human Security

By Ayodhya Krishani Amarajeewa
Regional Centre for Strategic Studies
Continued from yesterday

According to Prof. Wijesundara, in 1994, a multinational company, W.R. Grace and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were granted a patent by the European Patent Office (EPO) “Covering a (special) method for controlling fungi on plants by the aid of a hydrophobic extracted neem oil” that is diluted with a certain percentage of water was withdrawn in 2000. Lot of concern after 10-year battle, some patents on neem were squashed some still prevail. There are 65 patents so far only for neem. According to Prof. Kotagama, a US company wanted to produce insecticide from neem. They came with Azadariktin as a product. They obtain the patenting required to use and own neem. There is a law that if you are contesting patenting right it has to be in the country it is registered at. So the neem battle has to be fought in the US. With lot of money and help from the NGOs and help along with the Indian government they fought against this patenting. The company contested that they did not bring neem from Asia or India, they brought it from Africa because it grows in Africa. But it was identified that the seeds that had gone to Kenya had been coming from Sri Lanka according to the Registers of the forest department records from Sri Lank. Based on that evidence the patent was revoked. The neem campaign was consisting of a group of NGOs and individuals was initiated in 1993 in India. This was done to mobilize worldwide support to protect indigenous knowledge systems and resources of the Third World from piracy by the west particularly in light of emerging threats from intellectual property rights regimes under WTO and TRIPS. Neem patent became the first case to challenge European and US patents on the grounds of biopiracy.

Basmati Rice patent case is another instance bio-piracy was reversed. Prof. Kotagama remarked that it is known as the India – US Basmati Rice Dispute (Case number 493, Case Menemonic – Basmati; Patent number – US 5663484A, publication). A US company registered a new hybrid variety of Basmati. India and Pakistan got together and they fought using media, using negative advertisement and they squashed American variety of Basmati) proving ‘Texmati’ was not Basmati.

According to Prof. Sarath Kotagama, an Indian Ecologist, Vandana Shiva has said ‘bio-piracy deprives us in three ways: It creates a false claim to novelty and invention, even though the knowledge has evolved since ancient times as part of the collective and intellectual heritage of India”. Secondly “it divests scarce biological resources to monopoly control of corporations thus depriving local communities the benefits of its use” and thirdly “it creates market monopolies and excludes the original innovators (farmers) from their rightful share to local, national and global markets”. She fought a lot for the biodiversity conservation in India and a well-respected ecologist in India who also had to do much with the fight against Neem, Basmati and Turmeric.

There are similar cases where patents were revoked: Kava Kava from Fiji and Vanuatu; Quinoa from Andes; Banaba and other medical plantys from Philippines; Bitter gourd from Sri Lanka and Thailan; Ilang-Ilang from Philippines and Periwinkle from Madagascar, highlighted Prof. Wijesundara.

In 1989 bioprospecting started with the Institute of Biology established in Costa Rica purely for this purpose. It was the idea to do research on rainforests, animals and plants in Costa Rica and give the ownership to the country if something was discovered. However, this institute was dissolved in 2015 in Costa Rica. According to Prof. Kotagama, the institute still exists with the idea surveys on the resources of rainforests and commercialization of the products will be done for the benefit of Costs Rica. Prof. Kotagama highlighted why bio-piracy needs to be also understood in legal jargon. In the research paper “Bio piracy and its impact on Biodiversity: A Special review on Sri Lankan context” (Kusal Kavinda Amarasinghe), it has mentioned that 34 plants and animals have been taken out of Sri Lanka and Indian subcontinent and patent obtained for biological constituents already. According to Prof. Kotagama, Naja naja naja (Cobra) is an endemic spices in Sri Lanka and still it has lost the control from the country and others are using the species to derive benefits. Prof. Kotagama also highlighted that while there is so much indifference, there is so much consorted efforts to prevent bio-piracy and bio-theft in the countries like the Philippine, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Nepal who have strengthen the situation and have increased regulations and continue strict border control measures.

Illegal Trafficking and Bio-Piracy

According to Prof. Siril Wijesundara, illegal trafficking is also directly linked to bio-piracy and theft. One of the ways that can prevent bio-piracy is through detecting illegal trafficking of various types of endemic and endangered plants and animals. Most common plant species affected by illegal trafficking in Sri Lanka at present are Gyrinops Walla Walla patta, Salacia reticulate Kothala Himbutiand Santalum album naturalized sandhun. Sri Lanka Customs have detected many instances of illegal trafficking. Target destination varies from India, Dubai, Pakistan, Australia, and China. The most popular destination for Kothala Himbotu today is China.

Another classic example of trafficking of plants is by misleading the authorities. Prof. Wijesundara highlighted that a plant called Kekatiya (Aponogeton crispus) were exported in large quantities under the name Aponogeton ulvaceus, a plant native to Madagascar. However, Prof. Siril Wijesuriya mentioned that during his tenure at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, he managed to test this plant and discovered it is a different plant from the one in Madagascar. After this discovery, this Sri Lankan variety of the plant (Kekatiya) was prohibited from being exported and necessary action were taken to a point where the company went out of business.

 

Importance of Utilizing the Chemical Compounds in the Medicinal Plants

Prof. Veranja Karunarathne highlighted the popularity among the people now for medicinal plants. That is because the Medicinal properties and compounds that are useful found in the medicinal plants. Natural products are made out of these compounds. According to him, the use of medicinal plants go over for 5000 years ago. Probably we have used medicinal plants since existence.

According to Prof. Veranja Karunarathne, the medicinal plants are being used in traditional medicinal systems popular in Sri Lanka such as Ayurveda, Deishiya Chikithsa, Siddha and Unani. Siddha and Unani don’t use much of the plants necessarily and have much to do with involving plants. In different medicinal systems, over 2500 plants are being used in Sri Lanka. These are being used for disease curing and ailments in traditional medicine practices. In the Western medicine sense, it is one compound for one disease. In Ayurveda and indigenous system, it is many compounds for one disease many compounds curing one disease. Pollypahrmachology is accepted in the indigenous system. These aspects of pollypahrmachology in traditional medicine are becoming valuable. If we take asprin that cures heart disease, it is isolated from Villon plant. Quinine that is used in Malaria prevention is isolated from cinchona plant. That is the practice of the Western medicine. Prof. Veranja Karunarathne says that if we look at plant evolution, it is evident that the plants didn’t intend to cure diseases. This evolution of the plants happened by co-evolving with the insects. It never intended to cure diseases for humans. In 1915, the Western medicine avoided using plants due to various issues including intellectual property matters and since plants are very difficult thing to manage. However, they have come back discovering medicine from plants. That is why co-evolution is important. Diversity of functional group of plants is important. Diversity of use of plants cannot be matched with the evolution of the plants.

From Kothala Himbotu, an endemic plant in Sri Lanka, water soluble anti diabetic compounds were found by Japanese scientist. There are over 50 patents for Kothala Himbotu plant. Sri Lanka has only one patent which was a discovery of a Sri Lankan team. As a Chemist who worked on the kothala himbotu plant and tried to find the chemical compounds, Prof. Karunarathne felt humiliated when Japanese scientists found that water based compound in the kothala himbotu plant. He used a Sri Lankan source and worked on a zeroing from Sri Lankan lichen, patented at the US patent office the, lichen called ziorine that can be used on cancer patients. Sri Lankan government dealing legally with bio-piracy is when they intervened to stop exporting Kothala Himbotu plant in bulk that is being used for anti-diabetic drug. For anti-diabetic drug creation some sections of the plant are still being exported, but in small quantities.

In the meantime, there is also bogus bio-piracy. An undergraduate student of University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka found out that Clarins skin care product in France is using Hortinia floribanda that is endemic to Sri Lanka.

In their website it was mentioned that this plant is being used to improve the skin tone. When studied their website, closely, they found that they are using plants found in amazon and plant found in Europe during winter. After finding the endemic Sri Lankan plant do not contribute to any skin tone improvement and when the research was published in National Science Foundation journal, the skin care production company removed the name of the plant from their website. This is an instance where bogus bio-piracy is being taken place and that it too needs to fight and that even an average Chemist can make a difference, said Prof. Varanja Karunarathne.

According to Prof. Varanja Karunarathne, there are about 3000 odd plants endemic to Sri Lanka, out of the total flowering plants, 2000 are endemic. Because of this density and diversity, UNESCO named Sri Lanka as a biodiversity hotspot. 1300 of these plants are in the Red book of endangered plants of Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, the value of the plant is only the timber value. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka value plants in Sri Lanka only for its timber value which is a drawback. The government needs to fund for projects that study the chemistry of these plants, government never have done such in that greater scale. The chemists would want be able to study the chemistry inside the plant, the knowledge inside the plant. It is important to lobby to find the chemicals of these plants that are endangered to Sri Lanka. This means conserving the knowledge inside the plant is much more than just evaluating its value for timber. There is a far greater use of the plant than just the timber value.

During the discussion, Mr. Lakshman Gunasekara highlighted the importance of getting media involved along with the Scientists to intervene in promoting knowledge, education and awareness about bio-piracy and possible ways of counter-fighting it. He said that unlike in the past, mass communication can bring this issue to a different level. In this regard the scientific community needs to intervene in order for the media community to get activated. However, Prof. Siril Wijesundara made a remark that media is always working with political agendas, but Scientists are not and they cannot do so. Therefore, it is important, media step aside from political agendas and look at this issue apolitically.

Dr. Nirmal Dewasiri highlighted the colonial dimension of bio-piracy. With the involvement of government in bio-piracy and the inclusion of concept of government and empire –building bio-politics came into being. In empire building, establishing the political centre outside the location of the centre was important. Same is true to colonialism which was more than traditional Empire building exercise. It was new kind of administration, where there was capturing a grip on the land and space, fauna and flora. It was rather “governmentalization” which has multiple dimension. According to him, in that sense, colonialism is a multidimensional phenomenon. It is not more colonialism now; it is a new process. This is very much part of the enlightenment project at the time. It was governed by knowledge. Accumulation of information of social and natural environment became a new kind of project. The new political challenge is also this.

Prof. Nalani Hennayake highlighted the fact that how in terms of conservation and information sharing India came out with digital library registered with patent offices in the inventories library in the United States, while Sri Lanka has our own Red Book of inventory. She further highlighted the fact that countries like Sri Lanka having enough laws that needs immediate activation. Monopolizing the ownership needs to end and commercializing our plants needs to happen according to the Fauna and Flora Act in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka said no to digital register of plants in 1994 and we need to rethink such decisions mentioned the discussants.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. Veranja Karunarathne said that at present, other people are working on synthetic biology, combination of chemistry, biology and genomics, creating biosynthetic pathway of genes. Genes are mass produced in genomic mass factories which is controlled exploitation of bio wealth. That is where the world is heading and he says Sri Lanka needs to value the conserved knowledge inside the plant and explore the immense possibilities that the plants are presenting. Concluded

Continue Reading

Features

Acknowledged (only?) Statesman speaks out; so do a few others

Published

on

The editor of The Sunday Island (April 4), mentions in his succinctly titled editorial – Down the pallang with no end in sight – this statesman. He speaks of Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha’s successful manouevre to curtail the power of the Rajapaksas and President Mahinda R’s attempt to go in for a third term of his presidency in 2014. Thus, the editor writes: “It is in this context that the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) that Ven Sobitha founded now led by respected elder statesman Karu Jayasuariya ….” The organisation is seeking to push the rulers on to a correction course. It seeks to project an apolitical stance and denies subversive interest. “The 20th Amendment that abolished the 19th has thrown the baby with the bathwater….” Cassandra adds – and we are drowning in the waters; floundering in fear and surrounded by sharks of the sugar and oil scams; also those who are still destroying our natural resources.

 

Karu wise plus experienced and apolitical

The same paper published on page 3 excerpts of what the Chairman NMSJ – Karu Jayasurirya – said at a press conference at Janaki Hotel Colombo, on April 2. His considered warning was ‘Don’t fiddle like Nero as the country plunges into a precipice.’ A due warning of rather mixed metaphors. Cass would have preferred … ‘as the country burns’, but plunging into a precipice is really more catastrophic and that, says many, is what is happening to this wonderful land of ours. We should all read and reread what Karu J had to say; we should analyse and see whether he was correct and then in our own small way try to obtain a change of course. The principle consideration is that Karu Jayasuriya speaks apolitically here as an elder statesman who has been both in politics and the private sector and knows full well what he is speaking about. If you want definite credentials on his ability and sincerity, recollect how he acted as Speaker of Parliament when the then Prez, Maitripala Sirisena stole the government from its elected members of Parliament and handed it over to his dire enemy of yesteryear, now befriended buddy – Mahinda Rajapaksa and his coyotes to govern the land. PM Ranil W with loyalists holed themselves at Temple Trees and bided their time. Karu J faced a battery of assaults: vulgarly vocal, totally injurious thrown bound volumes and deadly chilli powder mixed with water. He braved it all; took his rightful seat and gave judgment that restored order from utter chaos.

He is one politician whom Cass and so many others rooted for. Now he is out of party politics but fighting for the very survival of the nation of free Sri Lanka.

 

Voices should be listened to

At the recent meeting of people to solve their problems and bring succour to them, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa somewhat belittled protestors attempting to save our forest cover. Cass heard him on TV news on Saturday April 3 speaking about people accusing a previous government of running white vans, threatening journalists etc and now it is environmental groups that are out against the new government and him. No, they and we are against those who cut trees, deforest the land, sand mine ruthlessly and of course make money on horrible scams and seem to get away scot free, not even paying to government coffers billions garnered illegally.

He, government Ministers and MPs, and relevant administrators should all listen to the call of even a single concerned person, and know they are calling out completely altruistically with no political biases. One such is Padmini Nanayakkara of Colombo 3 who cries out (we imagine in horror) Reservoirs in Sinharaja? in the Sunday Island of April 4. She starts her letter to the editor with this: “Have we an enemy within or has a foreign force taken over Sri Lanka? I can’t imagine any Lankan contributing to an idea as bizarre as building reservoirs in Sinharaja.”

The editor referring to the pronouncement made loud and clear by Minister Chamal Rajapaksa about building two reservoirs in Sinharaja as if it were a foregone construction plan; writes thus: “A minister from the ruling family outrageously declares that two reservoirs will be built in the Sinharaja reserve to provide water for their pocket borough, He promises to plant 150 acres elsewhere to compensate saying that rubber will be planted to give people an income”. The editor dubs it a “madcap project” (cheers!!). Plenty water could be tapped downstream of rivers flowing near Hambantota; and this for people and not to keep watered vanity projects like cricket stadiums.

 

Semicentennial of a terrible uprising

I speak here of the JVP uprising of 1971 which has been written about with Jayantha Somasunderam from Canberra detailing it meticulously with copious references. Cass has been typically Sri Lankan in that she had forgotten about those days of fifty years ago which she refuses to term either jubilee or never golden anniversary. The Editor/The Island introduced a new word – quinquagenary – a tongue twister but pins down the number five. Whatever its now earned name, it was a brutal and absolutely purposeless shedding of young blood: blood of youth by the government and killing of police and causing utter chaos by the newly marshaled JVP under Rohana Wijeweera. They were disciplined and dedicated to a cause then. Incidentally, his grown son was shown on TV news a few days ago. A misunderstood message to attack police stations, conveyed via radio annonced obituary notices, saved the country because the attack was so deadly, power over the government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike could have been gained. The second JVP uprising was deadlier as it was minus principles and all restraint. Again the rivers flowed with young Sinhala blood. The 1971 insurrection was short lived and we who cowered, emerged to usual routines fairly soon. Not the 1ate 1980s uprising. It created widespread fear psychoses; complete mayhem from hospitals, schools and offices to thé kadés. Universities were closed for two years and thus a considerable exodus of young students to universities overseas. We lost many of our teenaged children and the country – brains and ability.

May such never happen again is our earnest prayer. The young seem to have imbibed or decided to work through principles. Consider the recent protests against environmental degradation, particularly denudation of forests. They were all peaceful and intelligently carried out, and acknowledged as such, and the message they carried should certainly have been given an ear to by the President, PM and Ministers in charge of relevant subject areas. Perhaps it was peaceful marches and speeches and placards because the aim was altruistic – benefit for the entire country and not for self.

 

Beauty gone batty?

The public fracas of excessively groomed and dressed up beauties at the recent Mrs Sri Lanka finals was shockingly disgraceful. It confirmed to Cass that even the slightest mix-up or argument in this land of ours very soon escalates to a debacle, often accompanied by violence. But in this incident, there wasn’t even a whimper of argument. We witnessed how last year’s Mrs S L – Her Mightiness Caroline Jurie – crowned, de-crowned and re-crowned Pushpika de Silva. The latter’s hair was pulled, since the crown was rudely pulled off her by Her Mightiness and another, but unless it had long sharp spikes it could not have injured the stunned winner’s head. And all because of a heard rumour at the moment of crowning. Cass spits out: How dare Caroline Jurie take judgment to her tearing hands when a panel had discussed, gone into details and decided on the winner; the panel including herself! Cass comments the glass slipper gifted to Cinderella Caroline a year ago seems to be a misfit now; her feet swollen to match her head.

Back to the ordinary: Cassandra wishes all her readers a family oriented Aluth Avuruddha, with safety precautions vigilantly observed against infection given first priority. Much should be sacrificed to prevent the deadly third wave of Covid 19.

Continue Reading

Trending