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South Asian monsoon becoming increasingly unpredictable, catastrophic: experts



File photo of residents walk along a flooded road in Piliyandala in 2010


Calamitous impact of summer monsoon in Lanka marked by flooding and drought is topic of concern


Monsoon season is becoming increasingly unpredictable and catastrophic despite its significance for South Asia, speakers at a webinar said on Sunday, The Dawn reported yesterday.

The Dawn report filed from Islamabad said: International experts and scientists from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan participated in an online seminar on the ‘Impacts of Climate Change on South Asian Monsoon’, organised by the Comsats Centre for Climate and Sustainability (CCCS).

They discussed the variability of the monsoon and its relationship with the changing global climate system, as well as the adverse effects of climate-mediated changes on South Asia.

Speakers argued that global warming is causing extreme precipitation and extreme climate events such as drought, with dire consequences for the agriculture-based economy of the region and the livelihoods of farming communities.

CCCS founder and head, retired ambassador Shahid A. Kamal, opened the webinar.

He said the monsoon was considered one of the world’s most important weather systems, adding that it was imperative for reliable monsoon forecasting to understand the changing water patterns in South Asia.

Other speakers included Dhaka University Associate Professor Dr Mohammad Ismail, Tribhuvan University Associate Professor Dr Madan Sigdel, deputy director atthe Pakistan Meteorological Department Dr Zaheer Ahmad Babar, Sri Lanka Department of Meteorology Director Anusha Rashanti Warnasooriya and Thailand National Astronomical Research Institute Senior Researcher Dr Vanisa Surapipith.

The discussion highlighted the gravity of social, economic and environmental implications associated with the abrupt monsoon pattern in South Asia.

Speakers discussed the repercussions of increasing monsoon variability for Nepal as well as disasters caused by extreme weather events, current trends and future projections about shifting patterns of monsoon in various parts of Pakistan, the calamitous impact of summer monsoon in Sri Lanka marked by flooding and drought, the impact of atmospheric aerosols and non-renewable energy resources on precipitation patterns, and the mitigation strategies taken by the government of Bangladesh to curb the fallout from climate change.

Some key recommendations from the webinar included a call for research-backed policy formulation to help mitigate the negative impact of suddenly changing monsoon patterns on the environmental and socioeconomic conditions of the South Asian region.

They also called for the appropriate allocation of resources to strengthen the scientific and technical capacity of South Asian countries and enhanced regional cooperation to promote the sharing of good practices and sustainable solutions to aid adaptation with variable monsoon trends.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving



Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest



By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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