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Flight of the double sunrise



“One more wild goose chase.” That’s what Dil, my boss, said when she reluctantly agreed to accompany me to the southern fringe of Sri Lanka in search of Justin and his memories of aeroplanes that flew to break records. It was in 1940s. The meat of the matter lay in Koggala, the little hamlet nestled between the palm fringed sea and the bucolic Koggala Lake – two hours’ drive from Colombo. That’s where I headed this time to chase wild geese.

We stayed a night in Galle, at the Light House Hotel. The service was par excellence. We were pampered and plied with food and drink fit for a king. In the morning we drove south along the Matara road, looking for the turn-off to Ahangama, where Kathaluwa Walauwa is located, and that’s where Justin held fort. Justin’s family had been the Lords of Kathaluwa for centuries, the usual father to son and grandson heritage. The change of role could be traced back to the Portuguese times when the viceroy in Goa gifted this land to Justin’s ancestors. Well, that’s another story. I’ll come back to it some other day.

As for now, it is the long forgotten aeroplanes and Koggala Lake and what Justin remembered to tell me and the world.

On one side, as we drove on was the sea, cobalt blue with white foam crested waves, rushing and gushing to break on boulders that stood like sentinels. On the other side, we passed the Koggala airfield where I had landed Tiger-moth in my fledgling days as a sky tramp. Years before this small airstrip came into being, there were grand ancient aviators who took off from and landed on the Koggala Lake. Most of them are now dead and buried, and so are their aeroplanes. Only one replica is found in a museum in New Zealand. What is left of the story is now scratches of aviation history that prop up now and then when the likes of me scuttle down memory lane chasing moonbeams to bring forgotten fairy tales to light.

* * *

The boat was a ramshackle relic that had seen better days. It had faithfully served some fishermen in the bygone years and suffered its share of the sea’s battering, and bashing; it had been pastured to strut up and down the mellow lake. The once colourful paint job has peeled off and burnt with time and has now become a faded mix between blue and green. Even the planks showed signs of rot where the wood cracked and grinned from above the waterline. The 15 hp engine coughed and cried as we crawled our way across the Koggala Lake under the scorching noonday sun.

Justin directed the boatman and did finger-pointing navigation whilst relating to us the forgotten sagas of the lake. ‘That’s where they made Gam Peraliya,” he announced with glee, showing a house where they filmed Lester James’ immortal movie. “That’s Madol Duwa, the island lay to windward, green and silent in its pastoral beauty, known well among schoolchildren who read Martin Wickremasinghe’s literary classic. Diagonally opposite Madol Duwa was the little airfield I mentioned before, located in one corner of the lake, the black serpent like tarred runway dividing the lush green, and a national flag fluttering from a tall white mast advertising the Air Force ownership. Far away on the North side was Madin Duwa, now renamed Bird Island to give a touristic twang to it. The Koggala Lake lay in its vast splendour, sleepy and silent as beautiful as it has ever been.

The boat spluttered to pass a small island of rocks, “This is where the windsock was,” Justin explained. We rounded the rocks and faced the longest stretch of the lake, extending beyond two miles. “This is where they started the takeoff run,” said Justin who, as a 13-year-old kid had seen them all. “We spent our holidays in the Bird Island and watched the aeroplanes take off,” he drew from memory and gave his eyewitness testimony. “They raced on the water a long distance and lifted off and climbed away barely skimming the tree-line at the far end,” Justin reminisced.

I stood on the boat and stared. That was the water runway of the Koggala Lake. The exact place where some Captain synchronised his gyros, tested controls, pushed his thrust levers and revved his engines to go. I’ve done the same a thousand times on thousand runways. But that is nothing. This would have been all so different. The sheer romanticism alone was something the pilot, in me, could barely imagine in my wildest dreams. What are modern heavy jets and neon-lighted runways? Here was the ‘real-deal’, the incomparable beauty of flight transformed into reality by men who dared to buck the odds and perhaps became half birds themselves in the execution of their indomitable task. The water here was where they took off in their cumbersome seaplane on its long journey from Koggala Lake to Swan River Perth on the West Australian coast––28 hours of non-stop flying on a Catalina Flying boat, flown by Qantas Imperial Airways pilots, the longest leg of Qantas’ link flight between London and Sydney, in the war-torn years of the forties. The flight was so long that the passengers saw the sun rise twice whilst being strapped to their seats. That is how the name “flight of the double sunrise,” came about and entered Koggala in the record books in the world of aeroplanes.

* **

Justin remembers everything, event and detail of a forgotten saga. “It was war time,” he recalled. “My father was the Mudaliyar, the highest local official for the Koggala area in the British Colonial administration. The orders came from his superiors, all the villagers residing within a radius of five miles from the Koggala Lake, were ordered to evacuate their homes and leave within 24 hours,” Justine detailed.

No one could protest. This was “Rule Britannia.” time. Justin’s father was to see that no one remained in the vicinity of the Koggala Lake. By noon the next day, no one remained. The lake went silent; the fishermen packed their measly mote and went away to the unknown. Justin’s father was allowed to remain; he was the big boss representing his bigger White bosses. It was just to make sure no one retuned.

That’s when the Royal Air Force came to take over the Koggala Lake to demarcate the water runway, fix the windsock and prepare it to accept the long flying seaplanes.

* * *

It was 1942. The Japanese were occupying the Malayan peninsula. The Qantas Imperial flight, London to Sydney, had lost its refuelling point of Singapore between Calcutta and Perth. The flight had to be kept and the link maintained at any cost. An alternative route had to be found. Sri Lanka was the best bet and that too, if possible, the southernmost tip to take maximum advantage to minimise the distance to the Australian coast. Hence, the mapmakers took their protractors and their slide rulers out and made their calculations, Koggala to Perth – long and dangerous, but possible; that’s when Justin’s father got his orders to evacuate the fishermen.


There were five Qantas aeroplanes that flew this route. They were all named after the stars––Antares, Rigel, Spica, Vega and Altair, magnificent luminaries of the Milky Way. The names were apt as they are the main stars by which the aeroplanes deduced their celestial navigation. That was the only form of directions available as radio silence had to be maintained from Koggala to Perth. Japanese fighters were dominating the skies over the Indian Ocean. The Qantas machines were 16000 kg Catalina Flying boats with two Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp piston engines of 1200 hp. They cruised at 98 knots per hour and were fitted with extra fuel tanks to last the impossibly long leg. The 5,652 km journey lasted an average of 28 hours and when winds were unfavourable it dragged to more than 30 hours, the longest being an astounding 32 hours and 9 minutes. This is the longest non-stop regular passenger flight ever attempted.

The first flight came from Perth and landed in Koggala on the 30 June 1943 under the command of Captain Russell Tapp. The last flight was on 18 July 1945. The aeroplanes carried three passengers and 69 kg of mail. 271 crossings were made carrying 648 passengers; each passenger was given a certificate illustrating their membership to “The Rare and Secret Order of the double Sunrise”. In all its two-years of operation, the star named Catalinas flew the Indian Ocean facing every possible aviation hazard. Yet, they had the unequalled proud record of ending the enormous episode without a single mishap or accident.

In aviation terms, it was a phenomenal feat of absolute skill and meticulous preparation performed by true professionals who obviously knew what they were doing.

* * *

Out there to Swan River, that’s where our wild goose chase next took us. The memories of these unique flights are better kept on the Australian shore. There is a plaque inserted in a granite boulder, placed there by Qantas, on the east bank of the river, in loving memory of their historic flights, flown during the war years. People stop by with grandfathers pointing fingers and explaining to grandsons what they knew or heard about the long record-breaking aeroplanes that took off and headed to a little-known lake in an unknown place called Koggala.

As to our end, there are neither records nor plaques inserted in granite for one to stand beside and take photographs. The grandfathers here are dead and the grandsons may have no interest. Years have rolled and time has reduced the once-renowned water airfield from magical to the mundane. Only the fishermen are there in their dugout canoes baiting their fish, and they know nothing of star named aeroplanes that landed on and took off from their beloved lake.

But then what are Qantas plaques on granite boulders compared to Justin?

The expert sits there at Kathaluwa Walauwa, his ancestral home from where his father ruled the hamlet. Here is the verbal evidence, honest and accurate, Justin’s unvarnished sentiments recited by recall, exactly as it happened. Stories of Bird Island and how he stood and watched the cumbersome Catalinas skim the water in their two-mile run to lift off, clearing the trees by whiskers as they made their way over the ocean to the far away Swan River in Perth.

The memories are all there, very much intact, to be described in fine detail. Maybe to answer a question or two, maybe to relive a moment or a few, about a time when Koggala Lake entered aviation history as part participant of the record-breaking flights of the double sunrise.


Covid-19 vaccination: Is it the proverbial ‘Silver Bullet’?



Dr B. J. C. Perera

MBBS(Cey), DCH(Cey), DCH(Eng), MD(Paed), MRCP(UK), FRCP(Edin), FRCP(Lon), FRCPCH(UK), FSLCPaed, FCCP, Hony FRCPCH(UK), Hony. FCGP(SL)

Specialist Consultant Paediatrician and Honorary Senior Fellow, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In this emerald isle, people take to any form of vaccination, like the legendary ducks take to water. Offer them a vaccine against anything and they will take it; at least most of them would do so. The vaccine antagonists and anti-vaxxers are extremely few and far between, so as to be almost a virtual non-entity. With a very high literacy rate, and a population that is prepared to take heed to the hilt, the axiom that dictates ‘prevention is better than cure’, it is the absolute dream of the experts in the public health scenario that there is unmitigated abiding interest on the part of our populace to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It has been said that vaccines do not save lives but vaccination most definitely does. Vaccines have to be given to people for them to produce the optimal effects. A receptive population to such a notion is indeed, a much-fancied reverie of all health service providers.

In such a background, it is most laudable that Sri Lanka is going pell-mell, even in an impetuous rush, to vaccinate her population against COVID-19, at what could best be described as at break-neck speed. Even given the spectacle of an insufficiency of adequate stocks of the coronavirus vaccines to freely vaccinate the population, the authorities are making the very best of the situation. We must, of course clearly appreciate the steps taken by the Government and the Ministry of Health in this initiative. The tri-forces, the Army in particular, have to be congratulated, in playing the lead role in organising a scheme of things to administer the vaccines in an orderly fashion. TAKE A BOW; ALL OF YOU, you are indeed giving the very best of yourselves in this endeavour.

Well, the goal is to somehow secure a high enough herd-immunity to defeat the virus; most definitely a commendable final goal. The currently prevalent mantra is to vaccinate, vaccinate, and vaccinate even more. Yet for all that there is much misinformation and an infodemic doing the rounds, especially on social media, about widespread speculations on loss of sexual prowess, impotence, subfertility and infertility, as undesirable effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS FOR ANY OF THESE IMPLICATIONS. NONE OF THE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE COVID-19 VACCINES DO ANY OF THIS. It is just stupid covidiocy on the part of a few anti-vaxxers. It has induced a lot of young people to refuse the vaccine. This is a crime against humanity to spread such falsehoods. It is absolutely crucial to realise that the current vaccination drive is just a very important one of quite a few things we can do to try and keep the coronavirus at bay.

We have seen the fantastic results of immunisations against ‘child-killer diseases’ in paediatric healthcare. This author, as a young junior doctor, was witness to the ravages of the much-feared childhood diseases that killed or maimed scores of young children even in the second half of the last century. Those diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, measles, Japanese encephalitis; just to mention a few that took scores of young lives of yore, are a thing of the past now. Adequate vaccination has completely wiped them out. The last case of childhood polio in Sri Lanka was seen just around a quarter of a century ago. The young junior doctors of today and the current lot of medical students have not seen any of these dreaded diseases.

In the child healthcare scenario, vaccination has become the panacea for all ills in the above-mentioned diseases. In the same vein, it is quite reasonable to expect the coronavirus vaccines to provide a similar end-result. However, is it really so? It is a most lamentable fact that it is perhaps not quite so.

There is a well-recognised fundamental difference between all the vaccines that are used to prevent the much-feared childhood diseases of the past and the currently available vaccines against the coronavirus that is causing the current pandemic. The vaccines against all those childhood diseases COMPLETELY PREVENT children getting the disease!!!, period. Well, if the recipients are protected against getting the infection, it is the end of the story; a definitive conclusion of the matter in hand.

However, right up to just a few days ago, none of the currently available vaccines against COVID-19, were thought to be able to COMPLETELY PREVENT anyone getting the disease to any appreciable degree. How they work is by reducing the severity of the disease and by preventing the deaths. So…, the basic end-result characteristics of all the currently available COVID-19 vaccines were thought to be quite different to the standard vaccines against all other infective diseases. One could still get the disease in spite of being vaccinated against COVID-19 and would still be able to spread the illness to others.

Yet for all this, there seems to be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. In a most recent scientific publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, released as recently as 22nd September 2021, an interim analysis of a large study conducted in 99 centres of the USA has shown significant protection against CONTRACTING THE DISEASE as well as AGAINST MORE SEVERE DISEASE AND DEATH by the mRNA-1273 (Moderna/Spikevax) vaccine, administered as two doses 28 days apart. Vaccine efficacy in preventing Covid-19 illness was 93.2%, the effectiveness in preventing severe disease was 98.2% and the efficacy in preventing asymptomatic infection, starting 14 days after the second injection, was 63.0%. Vaccine efficacy was consistent across ethnic and racial groups, age groups, and participants with coexisting conditions. No safety concerns were identified.

Be that as it may, added to all our problems, now there is the daunting spectacle of the various types of variants and mutants, ranging from Alpha through delta, even to Epsilon and most recently to a particularly nasty strain called ‘Mu’, of the coronavirus which could cause problems even in the fully vaccinated. We still do not understand completely the potential impact of these more virulent strains in vaccinated people.

However, a case in point in relationship to these facts is the presently dominant situation in Israel. That country, one of the fastest in vaccination and most-vaccinated nations in the world, in spite of almost the entire population being vaccinated, is having some problems at the present time. By mid-March 2021, Israelis were partying as lockdowns ended and by April, masks had more or less vanished, turning the tiny country into a tantalising glimpse of a post-pandemic future. However, the crafty blight of a coronavirus seems to have come back with a vengeance. From a few dozen daily cases in early June 2021, even zero on June 9, new daily COVID infections twice hovered near 6,000 very recently, the highest daily rate in six months. Having won early access to supplies of the BioNTech/Pfizer jab in exchange for sharing nationwide data on how mass vaccination drives affect the pandemic, Israel is a closely watched indicator of a country where well-inoculated developed economies are heading.

As new infections soared, so did the long tail of hospitalisations in Israel. Even though the unvaccinated were five to six times as likely to end up seriously ill, the vaccine’s protection was waning fastest for the oldest; the most vulnerable, who got their first jabs as early as December 2020. At this rate, health officials predicted at least 5,000 people would need hospital beds by early September, half of them with serious medical needs, twice as many as Israel is equipped to handle. The current Prime Minister of Israel was honest with Israelis when he announced a new measure just a couple of weeks ago, whereby the government was trying to cushion the blow. On August 1, it had started offering people, over 60, a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine, embarking on its own public health experiment as it tumbled into an unpredictable fourth wave. So far, 775,000 people have taken their third shot and doctors say they can see antibody counts rising measurably within days of the third jab.

For Israelis, the booster shots are a reminder that they are still on the frontier of Covid-19 vaccinations. They celebrated when they were the first to get jabbed, cheering Pfizer as lockdowns ended in March 2021. Now, they are the first to experience the limits of the vaccine and the first to accept a long-whispered inevitability: the need to give regular booster shots to stay protected.

All these facts tend to bring into sharp focus, again and AGAIN, the undoubted importance of time-tested manoeuvres of avoiding crowds, maintaining a social distance of at least one to two metres, wearing suitable and effective masks; even double-masking, and repeated washing of hands, as our own personal weapons against this dastardly blight. Vaccination against COVID-19 will probably not be the panacea for all ills in combating this pandemic, although it would be a very powerful tool in the hands of the authorities in their quest towards victory over this disease. It will certainly not be the ultimate ‘SILVER BULLET’ against the disease.

If there is a lesson to be learnt from Israel today, it is this: corona, in fact, is not over; perhaps not for quite a while. This summer was just an intermission. Next may come winter., sadly perhaps, a winter of discontent. We do hope to high heaven that it may not be so for this beautiful and much-treasured Motherland of ours.

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Proposed Parakrama Samudraya walking path devalues ancient heritage



By Eng. Thushara Dissanayake

The construction work of the proposed walking path on the Parakrama Samudra tank bund was suspended after the protest of a group of Buddhist monks. Whether it is appropriate for monks to intervene in this matter is a different issue and the objection is admirable because many remained silent over this issue of national significance.

Since then many views, both pros and cons, on the proposed walking path, have been expressed by various parties. Experts in the engineering field express views on the safety of the dam after the proposed construction, which meddles with its existing riprap, the structural arrangement that prevents bund erosion by wind-generated water waves. Some others, including local administrative level officers and politicians see this as essential development for the area. However, technical issues can be resolved at any cost, and I am more concerned about the facts whether this track is a genuine necessity and the possible subsequent damage it can inflict on the historical value of the tank and the image of the great King Pararamabahu.

The objective of a walking path is to help people maintain their health, not only by engaging in physical activities like walking and jogging but also by allowing them to be with nature. While walking and jogging, can improve physical health, a serene, natural environment can improve mental health. If we take an area like Polonnaruwa, which is not as urbanized as many of the major cities in the country, there are ample places that offer the above-mentioned benefits. Further, neither visitors of the area nor residents will use it as a walking track, and an observation platform would be sufficient, if people need to stay safe from traffic that moves along the bund. Therefore, this type of project would no doubt be a white elephant that ruins millions of public money.

There was a time when the leader of the country went about erecting clock towers at every junction. Soon after they were built many of them showed the wrong time due to inferior construction work, resulting from corruption, putting the public in difficulty. Unlike those days, today there is no need for clock towers as everybody has the exact time since everyone has a mobile phone, more accurate than a wristwatch. We have to come to terms with the reality that what we value today would become obsolete tomorrow in the fast-changing world. Who is to say that these walking paths would not become obsolete in the future given the fact that lives of people are becoming complex and busy, and people may turn to indoor gymnasiums and exercise machines?

Moreover, a closer look at some of the already constructed walking paths would reveal that the selection of locations for such facilities was ill-informed, without proper evaluation as they remain under-utilised. One such example is the track that has been constructed in Badulla urban park which is popularly known as the Wawul Park. This park is located on the edge of three main playgrounds of the city; Vincent Dias ground, cricket ground and football ground. The track is blanketed in thousands of droppings of bats that inhabit the trees of the park, the odour of it so foul that it is very difficult to reach the track. Every day hundreds of people walk in the aforementioned playgrounds while the walking path remains abandoned.

Coming back to the topic, after the walking path is constructed, as per the usual practice of the country, a huge plaque will be erected on the bund mentioning the names of politicians who suggested, advised, supervised, participated and declared open the track. There will probably come a day in future when our children, who visit the Parakrama Samudraya, would say that the tank was constructed by this and that politician. Alas! The statue of the Great King Parakramabahu, who had a great vision to manage the water resources of the country, will be disregarded.

Way forward

Before making any structural changes to heritage sites, opinion should be sought from experts and other stakeholders as well. According to personal experience, when I last visited the place a few years ago, people who visited the tank needed no walking path, but being travellers from remote areas, there was a crying need for other basic facilities. They required shelter, water, facilities to have their meals, dispose of waste safely, and a proper waste collection system, among other things.

In addition, a mini auditorium can be constructed at a suitable place in the vicinity, that has audio-visual facilities to educate children about the history of the tank. A model of the reservoir can be used to explain its components and operation. Then our children will not take this amazing Parakrama Samudraya, that they are endowed with today, for granted but learn to appreciate the great vision and dedication of their ancestors in making this marvel a reality.

Let me conclude with a poem I posted on my FB page sometime ago, with its translation.

There is a huge plaque at the end of the tank bund. It reads that the politician is akin to King Parakramabahu. The river downstream overtops with the sweat of the people who built the tank. Still, the people who built the tank are of no value)

(The writer is a Chartered Engineer. This article is based on his personal views and does not reflect those of the organisations where he holds positions)

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Antics of State Minister and Pohottu Mayor; mum on chemical fertiliser mistake; The Ganga – a link



Reams have been written in all local newspapers; much comment has traversed social media and persons have been bold to call for justice on two absolutely unrestrained and yes, evil, SLPP VIPs who have recently been dancing the devil as the saying goes. These evil doers seem to be pathologically unable to control themselves and behave as human beings: heads outsised with hubris and apparently bodies often pickled with liquor.

Very succinct comments have been made on Lohan Ratwatte, one being: “a leopard never changes his spots” referring to the many crimes supposed to have been committed by him, and the other that he is a gem of a man who may make a jewellery heist soon enough. He has the audacity to say he did nothing wrong in barging into two prisons; in one to show off to pals the gallows and in the other, to brandish a gun and place it against the heads of two shivering Tamil prisoners. All done within the week when world attention was focused on Sri Lankan human rights violations directed by the UNHRC

Cass’ comment is that Lohan Rat was committing hara-kiri (minus even a trace of the Japanese spirit of self sacrifice) and taking the entire country on a suicidal mission through his inability to hold his drinks and destructive hubris and murderous inclination. Cass particularly favoured Don Mano’s summation in his comment on the unlawful prison intrusions in the Sunday Times of September 19. “Any semblance of a shabby cover-up to enable Lohan Ratwatte to retain his position as State Minister of Gems and Jewellery will not only endanger the economy by depriving the nation’s dollar bare coffers of a GSP benefit of nearly 2.7 billion dollars, but will risk putting 21 million Lankans from the frying pan into the fire and test their tolerance to the core.”

The visit to the Welikada prison by the State Minister of Prison Reform and … was said to be with some men and one woman. Identities were kept under wraps and confusion raised by making the dame a beauty queen or cosmetician. But who she was, was soon known along the vine of gossip. One report said the person in charge of the prison or its section with the gallows, cautioned Lohan Rat and tried to dissuade his advance with friends in tow since the lady companion was in shorts and them walking through where prisoners were, would cause a commotion. But no, the State Minister advanced to show off the gallows with his short-shorts wearing woman companion and imbibing mates.

Cass is actually more censorious of this woman than even of the State Minister himself. Is she a Sri Lankan, so vagrant in her woman-ness? Doesn’t she have even an iota of the traditional lajja baya that decent women exhibit, even to minor level nowadays? Is associating with a State Minister and his drinking pals such a prized social event? Shame on her! She, if people’s assumption of identity is correct, has boasted political clout and been elevated by it too. Such our young girls! Do hope they are very few in number, though this seems to be a baseless hope as social events unroll.

Pistol packing – correction please – toy pistol packing Eraj Fernando is aiding the ex State Minister of Prison Reform to deface, debase and deteriorate Sri Lanka in the eyes of the world. He is interested in land and not in gallows or scantily clad gals. With thugs in tow he trespassed a property in Bamba and assaulted two security guards. Repetition of an incident he was embroiled in – a land dispute in Nugegoda a couple of weeks ago. He was taken in by the police and before you could say Raj, he was granted bail. What quick work of police and courts.

As the editor of The Island opined in the lead article of September 20: “The Rajapaksas have created quite a few monsters who enjoy unbridled freedom to violate the law of the land.” A convicted murderer known for his thug ways was presidentially pardoned a short while ago.

The good thing is that people talk, write, lampoon, and draw attention to these heinous crimes and do not seem scared for their necks and families. White vans have not started their rounds. And very importantly the memories of Ordinaries are not as fickle as they were. Wait and see is their immediate response.

New fad – jogging lanes on wewa bunds!

Some monks and men gathered recently on the partly torn up bund of Parakrama Samudraya and had the foolish audacity to say the bund needed a jogging lane. Tosh and balderdash! Then news revealed that other wewas too were being ‘attacked and desecrated’ to construct jogging lanes. In such remote rural areas which even tourists do not visit? Is there illicit money-making in this activity? Otherwise, no explanation is available for this sudden interest in farmers’ and toilers’ physical well being. They get enough exercise just engaging in their agriculture, so for whom are these jogging lanes?

Sharply contrasting persons

As apposite to the former two, are superb Sri Lankans up front and active and giving of their expertise, albeit unobtrusively. Consider the medical men and women and their service to contain the pandemic; farmers who protest to ensure harvests are not damaged too severely by false prophets who won the day for the banning of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides. The latest blow and justification of what so very many agriculturists, agrochemists, have been saying all along – organic is good but to be introduced very slowly; without importing compost from overseas, is the Chinese import containing evil microorganisms. Experts have categorically stated that chemical fertilisers are sorely needed for all agriculture; more so paddy and tea; and if used prudently cause no illness to humans or injurious side effects.

The four experts who comprised the panel at the MTV I Face the Nation discussion monitored by Shameer Rasooldeen on Monday September 20, agreed totally on these two facts and went on to say that it must be admitted a hasty decision was taken to stop import of chemical fertilizers. We listened to the considered wise opinions backed by true expertise of vibrantly attractive and articulate Dr Warshi Dandeniya – soil scientist, of Prof Saman Seneweera from the University of Melbourne, Prof Buddhi Marambe – crop scientist, and Dr Roshan Rajadurai – media person of the Planters Association. Listening to them, Cass swelled with pride and told herself see what sincerely-interested-in-the-country’s welfare eminent scientists we have in this land of rowdy politicians and uneducated MPs. They labeled the sudden banning of chemical fertilisers and insecticides and pesticides as “very dangerous and causing irreversible harm. It is not too late to reverse the decision, even if admitting fault is not possible.”


Oh dear! The stench! Never ending series of scams; executed or approved by politicians and all for illicit gains. Even the tragedy of the pandemic and suffering of much of the population does not seem to have curbed selfish lust for money.

Focus on the Mahaweli Ganga

Interesting and deserving of thanks. Chanaka Wickramasuriya wrote two excellent articles in the Sunday Islands of September 12 and 19 on the Mahaweli Ganga, imparting invaluable facts of the present river and its history, as for example which king built which wewa or anicut. He ended his second article by hoping the waters of the great river will feed the north of the island too: “Maybe then this island will be finally uplifted. Not just from north to south, but across class and caste, language and philosophy, and political partisanship. Hopefully driven by a newfound sanity among its denizens, yet symbolically attested to by the waters of the Mahaweli.”

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