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Sinhala wordsmith extraordinaire remembered on his 40th death anniversary

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Karunaratne Abeysekera with Children at Radio Ceylon

By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana

“I write my songs not for critical acclaim but for the sole purpose of the enjoyment of listeners, without them having to turn the pages of a dictionary!” Thus retorted Karunaratne Abeysekera, during an interview, when reference was made to the disapproval of some critics of his lyrical style. Paradoxically now, 40 years after his death, critics are falling over each other to praise his lyrical style; simple though beautiful and musical words, arranged rhythmically to subtly convey, meanings often very deep, which brought about a sea change in Sinhala music for the masses! More importantly, his philosophy has proved correct as the songs he penned still dominate the airwaves, despite the vast changes in the broadcast media since his death. The young, who have no idea whose compositions they are, join the old in singing his songs, made immortal by the vast number of talented Sinhala singers, most of whom he nurtured. To them, to me and my generation, he was our dearly beloved Karuayya whose life was cut short at the height of his career, prematurely at the age of 52, on 20th April 1983. Even the vast expanse of four decades has not dulled the pain in our hearts.

Because of his enduring legacy as a lyricist, many forget that Karunaratna Abeysekara was a pioneer and excelled in many other fields too. He was a true wordsmith excelling in the written word as well as the spoken. He was born in Ratmale, a little village south of Matara on 3 June 1930, the eldest of ten children of Podiappuhami Abeysekara and Premawathi Abeysekara. The family moved to Colombo where his father started a small business but they moved back temporarily to their village during World War II which gave him the opportunity to study Sinhala, Pali, and Sanskrit under Venerable Ananda of Galkanda Vihara, which laid the foundation for the mastery with words. On return, he entered Nalanda College where his teacher was the poet U A S Perera, better known as Siriayya who conducted Lama Pitiya in Radio Ceylon, which was a life-changing event. This drew him to broadcasting, taking part in “Lama Pitiya” from the age of 12. He continued to study oriental languages under Venerable Dehigaspe Pannasara of Vidyodaya Pirivena whilst continuing his studies in English at Nalanda.

Even before gaining reputation as a lyricist, Karunaratna Abeysekara won recognition as a leading poet of the ‘Colombo Era.’ He started writing Sinhala poetry at a very young age, winning the competition for ‘The Best Young Poet’ conducted by Nava Kala Mandalaya in 1942, and continued to write regularly to Sinhala newspapers till death, in addition to publishing several collections. Thanks to Karuayya’s youngest brother Kirthie, who lives in the USA, I have been able to read three sets of poems written close to his unexpected death, which gives a hint of premonition. In a poem titled Ayachanayak (Request), printed in Kalpana in October 1982, he makes an appeal to the ‘Life-giver’ for an extension of ten years. It is a moving poem wherein he gives reasons why he is requesting the extension; that he wishes to see his son grow up, that he can contribute to Sinhala literature in many ways and write for the unity of the nation. It is not without humour, as he states that all he wants is the extension even if it makes him look aged! In a poem addressed to his sister Suji, who has just got married, titled Thawath Neyek (Another Relative) printed in Silumina of 27 February 1983, two months before death, whilst welcoming the brother-in-law, he ends up with a request: ‘Me neth piyawunoth hema heta midee pinin mage piyambai putui dingak balaganin’ which translates as ‘If by any chance these eyes close due to exhaustion of merit, please look after a bit, my dear wife and son.’ His last poem ‘Duka biya nethi Nivana pathami’ (Wishing for Nibbana sans sorrow and fear) appeared in Silumina a month after his death!

Karunaratna Abeysekara faced the most crucial decision of his life in 1950, when he had to choose between admission to Peradeniya University for a degree or join Radio Ceylon as a relief announcer, earning seven Rupees a day. He opted for the latter as he felt that was the only way he could support his younger siblings, his father’s business being not lucrative. This move not only allowed him to support his siblings admirably but also build a very successful broadcasting career. He was a brilliant newsreader but outshone all others as a commentator. In the era of before television, we were at the mercy of commentators to visualise any important event. Whereas others described what was happening, Karuayya painted the picture in our minds with his unmatched eloquence. I still remember listening to his commentary when Queen Elizabeth visited us in 1954 and painting the picture of the procession in my mind. The way he moved the entire nation to tears at S W R D’s funeral has become part of broadcasting legend.

Invariably, he was drawn to children’s programmes and Saraswathi Madapaya he hosted on Sunday evenings, became the star of children’s programmes. I had the fortune of participating regularly and helping Karuayya from 1957 to 1964, being introduced to it by Karuayya’s brother Daya and my good friend Buddhadasa Bodhinayaka. We would help by sorting out letters, writing features and reading scripts live ,etc.. which gave us the grounding in broadcasting. Karuayya arrived about half an hour before the programme goes live on-air and penned a couple of songs, which were set to music by Master D D Denny to be sung by the children who became the leading musicians later. Saraswathi Mandapaya was the incubator not only for budding singers but also for lyricists and script writers, far too many to mention by name.

Karuayya was the creator of the genre of Sinhala Children’s Songs and his compositions like Sarungale, Lenage pitameda Iri tuna ende kauda mage amme, Dan nivadukale hinda ne iskole, Mamai Raja kale vihilu keru Andare, Surathal ape denila vana mal kele pipeela are still sung by children and adults alike.

He pioneered cricket commentary in Sinhala, the very first being a report on the Ananda-Nalanda Big-match he gave on Saraswathi Mandapaya. He quickly switched to live commentary and is credited with coining many Sinhala cricket terms. No doubt the enthusiasm for and the popularity of cricket, the ‘coloniser’s game,’ in the villages is in no mean measure due to the commentaries in Sinhala which Karuayya pioneered in his inimitable style which enabled the listeners to visualise the game long before the advent of television.

On retiring from the National Service, he joined the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon where he revolutionised advertising by coining catchy slogans and introducing memorable jingles which are played even today. He was ethical to the core, ensuring that products he advertised stood to scrutiny, often visiting the establishments to ensure. This, unfortunately, is a practice unknown today when celebrities sell their souls endorsing any product for cash!

He was in great demand to present concerts and, in fact, many attended to see Karuayya as much for the concert. When he commenced the proceedings, immaculately dressed with hair combed with Brylcream and a wide smile below the thin moustache, crowds roared with applause as he raised his hands and said Ayubowan His introductions were crisp and concise, describing a lot in a few words. Another less well-known activity was writing the dialogue for films.

Without any doubt, Karunaratna Abeysekara was one of the best lyricists, if not the best, Sri Lanka has ever had; the most versatile without a doubt. His lyrics could be anything from children to classical, funny to provocative but he was at his best when it came to romance, probably because of his own turbulent love affair with Raniakka before marriage. She, like many millions in the country, had fallen in love with his voice initially which later developed into a romance, much objected to by her elders who kept her a virtual prisoner in her home. One day, Tilakasiri Fernado has been waiting in studio 10 of Radio Ceylon for Karuayya as he was one song short for his programme the same evening. When the plight was explained, Karuayya vented the pent-up feelings by writing immediately ‘Enna mada nale, gos pawasanna duka mage’ which was sung with great emotion the same evening and remains a classic in Sinhala music. He requests the wind to take his message of love to her, as it is only the wind that can reach her prison and tells the wind that he is helpless, his only treasure being her, adding that he will be ever grateful if the wind conveys his sadness to her. Quoting a passage from a note Raniakka was able to smuggle through to him, he wrote “Mawa hanga wane, aiyo Sakdevidune, Pandupul asane, aido unu nune” for the film Dingiri Menike.

In turn, Karuayya extended a helping hand to others in romantic difficulties. When there were problems with Sanath Nadasiri’s romance with Malkanthi Pieris, he is supposed to have mediated, in addition to writing the beautiful song “Ma hada asapuwa, kusumin sarasuwa, e Malbara dethai” sung in the melodious voice of Sanath, with the word Malbara hinting at Malkanthi! When Milton Perera had difficulty in expressing his love to Kalyani, he appealed to Karuayya who obliged with “Kalyaniye oba nesu kathawak kiyannam” with Milton declaring his love over the airwaves and thousands of lovers using it since to overcome their difficulties of romantic expression! In fact, Kalyani is mentioned in another song he wrote for Milton: “Sihina dev duwe, obata thun love, ekama nami ma danne e nama adare” wherein Milton sings “Kalyani namata ama pem, divi banduna puda karannam” No doubt, they were happily married!

When Dileepa was born, after a gap of ten years, Karuayya was overjoyed and had been lying down on a mat between the two beds occupied by his wife and mother, when he got the sudden urge to pen a song. He got up and wrote “Dileepa podi puthu, saneepayata nidi, Mawage ukul yahane” which was printed in Silumina. Seeing this Clarence Wijewardene has approached Karuayya and had said he will pay anything for the song! In an interview Karuayya mentioned that this and “Enna mada nale” are his favourite songs. Shortly before his death, Karuayya had been listening to a radio programme where they had discussed “Enna mada nale” Raniakka mentioned in an interview that Karuayya was very pleased and had commented “It is a haunting song.” It is a small mercy that he could listen to his favourite as the last.

No one knows how many songs he wrote in his short but fruitful lifetime as he penned songs for many including my wife, Primrose and the figure of 2,000 often quoted is a gross underestimate. He must have written thousands for the Saraswathi Mandapaya, which went unrecorded. Before the introduction of television, more than half the songs in the SLBC library had been written by him. He had written songs for over 300 films. Though the first song he composed for a film was “Kataragame Devige bime, Ruhunu janapade” screening of Sirisena Wimalaweera’s film Asoka was delayed, Varada Kageda being released before, two songs of which remain popular to this day: “Dalula prema gase” and “Piyalee kedila wetuna nebul Saman male” both sung by Mohideen Baig.

Some critics consider Karuayya’s best lyrics for a film are in Kurulu Bedda, with music by R Muthusamy and sterling performances by Punya Heendeniya and D R Nanayakkara, which include “Aruna Udaye” by Milton Perera, “Oya belma, oya kelma, nilupul nete” by Lata and Dharmadasa Walpola. However, my personal choice is Daskama, the only film Edwin Samaradiwakara provided music for. “Ipida mere” sung by Amaradewa is a synopsis of Buddhism and is a classic but there are many other beautiful songs too, masterfully crafted, and beautifully sung: “Honda Kala ada” by Mohideen Baig, “Mada diye pipunata” and “Turu wadulu tule” by GSB Rani Perera, “Goyam paseela kumbure” by Indrani Wijebandara as well as “Devlova devsepa” by Indrani Wijebandara and Mallika Kahavita.

Karuayya had the versatility to suit the lyric to the singer’s style and even to suit the actor, for film songs. It is said that seven other lyricists failed to satisfy Nimal Mendis for his composition for the film Kalu Diya Dahara but Karuayya succeeded with “Master Sir” He excelled in writing about inanimate objects; perhaps, the only lyricist to do so. “Awile semada” is about a candle, “Basicale” is about the bicycle, “Sarungale” is about a kite and “Naga lovin gena apu Bulathatha” is about sheaf of Betel, a song that runs through all the associated rituals, reminding us about our old traditions. Often, he made use of life-events to pen a song. Whilst having dinner in a Chinese restaurant, the waiter has dropped a tray earning a public reprimand from the manager which prompted, the moment he got home, to write “Wedakarala ewara nometha deviyane – Mokotada ma duppathwe ipadune”

A week or two before his death, we visited Karuayya’s place as Primrose wanted a song for her SLBC concert and she requested any song. It took him less than fifteen minutes to write the song “Minimewuldama nethath banda bendune, Visakavak wanna Diyaniyane Amila kahavanu nethath ata randune, Anepindusitu wanna Puthanuwane” It was his message to our two children telling them to be generous even if they do not posses the riches of Anathapindika or Visaka. In the lyrics, he urged them to love the nation, serve and treasure Buddhism and shine like the moon by eradicating ignorance through wisdom. Perhaps, he knew this was our last meeting as when he died, I was in Vienna attending the World Congress of Pacing. Forever I regret, for not being with him in his hour of need.

May Karuayya attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!



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Opinion

Becoming a water-wise citizen

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By Eng. Thushara Dissanayake

According to current demands and availability, potable water resources are rapidly depleting in Sri Lanka. Finding new potable water sources has become increasingly challenging due to the competition between irrigation water and drinking water needs in many areas. Population growth, industrial demand, pollution, and climate change exacerbate water scarcity more than ever. Despite this, society often overlooks the importance of water conservation, with water waste remaining widespread. As responsible citizens, it is high time to adopt effective water management practices at household and industry level for its sustainability. On the other hand, doing so will reduce the energy requirements for water treatment and distribution, helping lower greenhouse gas emissions.

According to NWS&DB only about 46% of the population in our country are supplied with pipe-borne water. Therefore, wasting water deprives others who really deserves fresh water but currently lack access.

Here are several common ways water is wasted presumably by users due to ignorance, along with effective strategies for reducing waste at the household level.Following are some other practical measures to save water.

Standard plumbing

Using standard pipes and fittings and skilled workmanship are crucial for preventing water waste, especially in embedded areas where such leaks are hardly noticeable. PVC pipes should not be exposed to the sun as that will deteriorate the quality of pipes over time leading to water leaks. Properly installed systems are often devoid of leaks and ensure efficient water distribution minimizing maintenance costs.

Selecting water-saving fixtures

There are many water-saving fixtures available today as low-flow showerheads, taps, and dual-flush cisterns having two flushing options. For instance, kitchen taps with fine mesh give the feeling that more water runs through it than the actual flow. Replacing the existing fixtures with these advanced items will reduce water usage significantly.

Fixing water leaks

If there are leaking taps or pipes in the house or business premises they should promptly be rectified. In addition, it is wise to have regular infections to identify such defects so that possible water wastage can be minimized.

Mindful showering habits

One mode of heavy water consumption at the household level is showering. Even small reductions in shower duration such as reducing the shower time by a few minutes can save many litres of water. Any habits of keeping the shower running while applying soap and shampoo should be avoided.

Using domestic appliances only for full loads

Making a habit of using washing machines and dishwashers only for full loads not only saves water but also reduces electricity consumption. Operating appliances at full capacity also enhances their efficiency and prolongs their lifespan while reducing repair costs.

Harvesting rainwater

Rainwater can be used for many household activities, especially for gardening, landscaping, and washing vehicles. Currently, treated water is often used for these purposes, which results in unnecessary treatment costs. Rainwater can be used even for drinking if properly collected, treated, and filtered for better hygiene. However, rainwater can be used for drinking after boiling if it is collected through a clean roof exposed to sunlight. Avoiding early rain is advisable to minimize the risk of impurities mixed with rainwater.

Gardening and landscaping

For hotels, public parks, playgrounds, and similar venues with extensive gardens growing native and drought-tolerant species that require less water can lead to massive water savings. This approach not only conserves water but also enhances landscape resilience during times of water shortages. Further applying mulch to retain soil moisture and installation of drip irrigation systems and garden sprinklers for watering can minimise water requirements. Watering the lawns should be done in the morning or late evening to minimise evaporation losses.

Water Recycling

Water from sinks, showers, and washing machines which are called “grey water” can be used for toilet flushing and gardening. By diverting grey water away from the sewer system and integrating it into these activities, freshwater requirements can significantly be reduced.

Awareness and Education

Making children aware of water conservation is crucial for fostering responsible water usage habits. At the domestic level parents and elder family members can be role models by demonstrating water-saving habits. As organization-level initiatives, educating children at schools, public awareness campaigns, promoting and giving incentives for water-saving appliances, and formulating sustainable water management policies are vital.

Adopting simple, yet effective methods as discussed can save water to ensure the sustainability of this scarce resource. As the adage goes, “Water is life”, every citizen has to be water-wise by understanding its value and actively taking steps to use water efficiently and responsibly.

(The writer is a chartered Civil Engineer specializing in water resources engineering)

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Opinion

Key takeaways from British election

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PM Keir Starmer

By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana

The fact that political parties splintered by internal strife, culminating in open warfare, would be punished mercilessly by the electorate at the first available opportunity is, perhaps, the key takeaway from the UK parliamentary election held on 4th July. Conservatives, who held power for 14 years were humiliated and reduced to only 121 seats, 9 fewer than even exit-poll predictions. However, exit-polls predicted the landslide for Labour spot-on, missing the mark by only two; Labour ending up with 412, prediction being 410. This Labour win was second only to the massive victories by Tony Blair in 1997 and 2001. Terms used by news media to qualify this Labour victory, tsunami and earthquake, perhaps, are inaccurate as both are unexpected events whereas this win was not. What surprised most, however, was not the Labour victory but the scale of the humiliating defeat of the Tories, losing 251 seats. This to a large extent, was self-inflicted!

Conservatives ended 13 years of Labour rule in 2010, but as they did not have an outright majority, winning only 306 seats in a house of 650, were forced to form a coalition government with Liberal Democrats who won 57 seats. In the subsequent election in 2015, Conservatives won 330 seats, just clearing the threshold of 326. David Cameron, who was PM from 2010, resigned in 2017 when the UK voted for Brexit in a referendum, which he forced on the country, hoping to get the opposite result. Conservative divisions bloomed following the referendum disaster and Theresa May, who succeeded Cameron, went for a snap poll hoping to get a larger mandate but was unsuccessful getting only 317 seats, forcing her to continue with a minority government. However, she too, had to resign in 2019 as the draft withdrawal agreement with the EU, she negotiated, was rejected by the parliament. Boris Johnson, who succeeded her, went for an election in 2019 and was able to secure a comfortable victory with 365 seats and it was the worst defeat ever for the Labour Party, which got only 202 seats. This catastrophe resulted because of Labour being out of tune with its own supporters, majority of whom were for Brexit whereas the party policy was to remain in the EU. This was a unique event in British political history where Labour supporters switched in droves to Conservative. Worsening internal strife in the Conservative Party and the blatant breeches of Covid rules, led to the ouster of Johnson in 2022, which resulted in the disastrous 45-day tenure of Liz Truss, shortest in British history. She had to resign in disgrace when the British economy tanked with the drastic economic policies she rushed through. Not surprisingly, she could not even retain her seat, which she won with a huge majority of over 26,000 in the previous election in 2019.

Most political analysts opine that the Conservatives lost the general election in October 2022, when their acknowledged economic competence was thrown into question with the antics of Liz truss. Rishi Sunak, who took over under the most difficult of circumstances, in addition had to face frequent backstabbing, mostly from a colleague also of Indian origin. He had the unenviable task of leading a badly divided party, on top of attempting to repair the massive economic damage caused by his predecessor. Although he could have gone on until December, he called a snap election and, ultimately on 4th July, faced the inevitable!

Perhaps, the humiliating defeat suffered by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which has its origins to the demand for Scottish independence, was even worse than that of the Conservatives. SNP once exercised virtually a dictatorship over Scotland, winning almost every parliamentary seat. It was humbled down to having only 9 seats, a loss of 39 seats, in spite of stoking the fire of nationalism by campaigning that this would be a vote for the demand of a second referendum for independence. The first independence referendum held in 2014 was lost, 55% voting against independence. Therefore, the most positive takeaway from the 2024 election is that it ensured the persistence of the union between England and Scotland. This clearly illustrates that a single-issue party like the SNP has a limited lifespan, a valuable lesson for some of the communal parties of Sri Lanka.

This election is remarkable in that, rather than being a Labour win, it was a Conservative defeat, as a detailed analysis of statistics clearly show. It had the second lowest turnout with only 59.9% of registered voters voting, the lowest with 59.4% being the 2001 election where the outcome, of re-electing Tony Blair’s government with a massive majority, was never in doubt leading to voter apathy.

In 2019, Labour got 32.1% of the vote, winning only 202 seats, which is considered Labour’s worst defeat. However, five years later, the share of the vote increased only to 33.8%, the increase being mostly due to a 19% increase in Scotland whereas there was hardly any change in England. Conservative share of the vote dropped from 45.6% to 25.7%. How can a mere increase of 1.7%, lead to a gain of 211 seats, Labour ending up with 412 of the 650 seats? The main reason for this is that Nigel Farage’s Reform party siphoned off a fair share of the Conservative vote in many electorates enabling Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates to win with small majorities. Reform got 14.3% share of the vote, a remarkable achievement for a new party. Farage, who started the chain of events that led to Brexit, took over the leadership of the right-wing Reform party immediately after the election was declared and threatened to take over the Conservative party ultimately. He may well do it unless Conservatives work out a robust strategy for revival! Wonder whether Farage got letters of thanks from the leaders of Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

This is not the first time that the ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP)electoral system, used in the UK, has produced paradoxical results. As Liberal Democrats were regularly getting fewer MPs compared to their share of the vote, one of the conditions for the formation of a coalition government in 2010 was a referendum to change the electoral system. However, the ‘Alternative Vote referendum’ held in 2011 ensured the continuation of FPTP as the Alternative Voting (AV) system was rejected by 67.9%.

Another big paradox of the 2024 election is Liberal Democrats gaining 64 seats, increasing their tally to 72 with only a 0.6% increase in the share of their vote from 11.6% to 12.2%. This probably will make them lose their enthusiasm for a change to a Proportional Representation (PR) system!

By far, the biggest paradox is Reform, which polled 14.3% got only 5 seats while Liberal Democrats, who got a smaller share, 12.2%, secured 74 seats! Reform is bound to clamour for change of the electoral system, with other minor parties, but the question is whether they would have a sufficient clout to bring about changes to the electoral system?

All parties in opposition clamour for a change but when they get power, completely forget about it, especially if they muster massive majorities. It is just like our Presidents, who promise to abolish the presidency during the campaign but, once elected and having savoured power, stick to it like leeches! Politicians, wherever they may be, behave the same way, subjugating everything to self-interest.

It looks very unlikely, in spite of all the anomalies, that the newly elected Labour government, which has a two-thirds majority in spite of having only minority support, would be interested in changing the electoral system, unless they start losing support quickly. This is not an impossibility, as they promised a lot which seemed almost impossible to deliver. They rejected Sunak’s Rwanda plan, which would have been a deterrent to illegal immigration and are now looking for a ‘Chief’ to solve the problem! PM Keir Starmer wants closer ties with the EU, which however is demanding free movement for the young but that would lead to an increasing number of immigrants; a very thorny issue. He has made some backers of his as ministers by appointing them to the House of Lords, in spite of having 412 elected members to choose from. The Lords is the chamber all parties never abolish despite their promises to do so as it is the place to accommodate cronies! I do hope, if a second chamber ever becomes a reality in Sri Lanka, it would not be like the Lords.

Even if politicians want to change the electoral system to PR or AV or even the French system of two-stage elections, which seems to have created a huge problem with the latest election, will the voters opt for change? Perhaps, not. After all, the best way to mercilessly punish politicians, in spite of all its disadvantages, is FPTP!

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Opinion

A different take on wind power projects in Sri Lanka

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A representational image

by Eng. Col. N. N. Wijeratne
(Retd)
Secretary General / CEO

Chamber of Construction Industry of Sri Lanka

Saudi Arabia aims to utilize her vast arid lands to harvest renewable energy resources and to increase her share of renewables to around 50% by the year 2030. This is similar to Sri Lanka’s stated goal of 70% renewable energy usage by 2030. However, sadly this is where the similarity ends.

Recently, the Saudi Power Procurement Company entered into two agreements with Marubeni Corporation of Japan to purchase wind power at a staggeringly low rate of 1.566 U.S. cents per kWh. Now compare this with Sri Lanka and the power purchase agreement with a foreign investor Adam Green Energy Ltd at 8.26 US cents per kWh. True, the government states that this will be the single most significant foreign investment in the country with a price of 1 billion US dollars and Sri Lanka will have uninterrupted electricity for the next 20 years, etc., and makes the convoluted argument that it is cheaper than thermal power which is 26.99 US cents per kWh and that the Ceylon Electricity Board purchases wind power from 9.67 to 13.99 US cents per kWh. Additionally, the power bought from Odamwadi solar project is higher in that it is 8.75 US cents per kWh unit. Be that as it may be, if competitive tenders were invited even in Sri Lanka a more competitive rate could have been possible keeping with the global norms. But this was an unsolicited bid negotiated by the Government high ups. Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda has pointed out that for newly commissioned onshore wind projects, the global weighted average internationally for wind power is between 3.5 US cents per kWh to 3.3 US cents per kWh (2022 figures) and falling. In fact, in India the levelised tariff for wind power is 3.8 US cents per kWh. The very same investor is supplying wind power to the Indian power grid at this competitive rate.

This shrouded price has spurred Transparency International Sri Lanka to file no fewer than 11 Right to Information applications about this now cabinet-approved project that will come into fruition 2 years down the line and has questions regarding the legality, transparency, evaluation process, pricing, government involvement, and the environmental impact assessment related to 250 MW wind power plant in Mannar and the 234 MW wind power plant in Pooneryn. Additionally, it strongly raises an alarm about the ecological feasibility of these projects which are located in an ecologically sensitive zone and one in a Ramsar declared wetland sanctuary. The Right to Information has elicited a stony silence by the authorities and it is petitioned that the sovereignty of the people has been violated. If we take the pricing factor in isolation, it behooves the government to answer this call at least, keeping aside the energy policy and investor friendliness that the government talks about for this sector. Next question is do we need to buy wind energy in US$ for next 20 years? What justification is there to pay in US$ for our free wind. Capital investment by the developer could have been treated as a loan repayable at a reasonable interest rate.

Geopolitical considerations may have influenced India to be involved in our power sector in order to ward off Chinese intrusions, but there are questions both big and small that require answers for it appears that the people’s sovereignty is being trampled and they have a right to know.

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