Connect with us

Sat Mag

The danger of airport walls

Published

on

By Capt. G A Fernando MBA

gafplane@sltnet.lk

Former Chief Pilot B737-200, Air Lanka

Former Member CAASL Accident Investigation Team

Former Crew Resource Management (CRM) Facilitator Singapore Airlines

Designated Flight Operations Inspector CAASL.

President, Aircraft Owners and Operators Association Sri Lanka

On the night of 7th August, 2020, Captain Deepak Vasanth Sathe and First Officer, Akhilesh Kumar, were approaching land at the Calicut International Airport, during heavy monsoonal rain, in a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, operated by Air India Express. The aircraft, registered as VT-AXH, was carrying out a repatriation flight IX-1344 from Dubai. Capt. Sathe was an ex-Indian Air Force pilot.

It is too early to know what exactly happened. Under bad weather conditions, such as this, the pilots will attempt to fly solely with reference to instruments, with little or no outside visual clues. The flight deck lights will be dimmed. Only one pilot is allowed to handle the controls and is designated as the ‘Pilot Flying’ (PF) and the other one is designated as the ‘Pilot Monitoring’ (PM). Their heads (and eyes) will be inside the flight deck, monitoring the flight and radio navigation instruments, with the Autopilot(s) on, to about 1000 feet, above the airport altitude, where the PM will announce “1000 feet” while looking inside, will now also start to look outside for visual clues with the windscreen wipers switched on. The PF must acknowledge that call. At a 100 feet, above a specified minimum altitude, depending on the airport and the type of instrument approach carried out, the PM will announce again loudly “Hundred above” The PF must acknowledge with a “Roger”. If the PF doesn’t do so at 1000ft or 100 ft, the PM will announce for the second time  If there is no response, then it is assumed that PF is incapacitated in some way, and the PM will ‘abort’ the landing approach and carry out a go around. Once at a safe altitude he will ensure that the auto pilot is on and check on the wellbeing of the handling pilot.

As can be seen from the above, it is a matter of close teamwork, standard call outs and procedures that enable pilots to land in bad weather. It is reported that the operating crew of Flight IX-1344 initially approached the runway (2845 meters/9330 feet long), from the opposite (East) side. They had initiated a ‘go- around’ at an altitude of 2700feet, which was well above the minimum altitude that they were allowed to descend to. We can assume that there was bad weather picked up on their Airborne weather Radar Display on their proposed approach path, which was unacceptable and may have opted to come on the less cloudy and rainy landing approach from the direction they did, even with a compromising tail wind of 10 to 15 knots. (a judgment call). Monsoon weather comes in cells of cloud and rain. Looking at their cockpit Radar display, pilots can easily analyse and decide on the better side to approach a runway from.

The last bit of the landing approach is critical after the ‘Hundred above’ call by the PM who will declare whether he has the runway lights in sight. At the minimum authorised altitude, PM will announce “minimums runway in sight” or “minimums, no contact” which will mean that the PF will have to go around. On this stormy night, the fact that they continued the approach and landed on the runway, successfully, showed that they had sufficient visual cues through the wind screen between the sweeps of the wipers, which create a major distracting, racket. In extreme conditions, the Flying Pilot will have about 1 mile (30 seconds) to decide whether it is safe to continue with the landing. There will be less time than that if the approach is downwind. They would have practiced approaches like this, many times in the B737 Simulator, to the satisfaction of an Indian Civil Aviation Authority Examiner.

Then comes a host of other problems. Is the beginning of runway (Threshold) crossing height correct? Ideally, it should be around 60 feet. Any height above that would mean that the aircraft would be touching down further into the runway than the recommended 1000 ft to 1500 ft, from the start. It again is a judgment call by the Captain. It was reported that the Calicut Air Traffic Control Officer saw the B737 -800 touching down quite deep. Even at this point the crew could have gone around if they felt uneasy. The pilots are trained to trust that ‘empty, something-is -not –quite- right’ feeling. After the touchdown, the Flight Crew will have to depend on the stopping devices (Reverse Thrust, Wing Spoilers and Wheel brakes) of the aircraft to bring the aircraft to a stop. Once these devices are applied, the Flight Crew will be committed to stay on ground.  Did they all work effectively? It was reported that there was standing water on the runway. It was also reported that the runway surface wasn’t ‘grooved’, to improve traction and drain the water.  Was the aircraft subjected to Hydroplaning? Hydroplaning is when a layer of water gets between the tyres and the runway surface resulting in no traction and stopping power. In fact it was reported that a survivor felt the aircraft accelerate after a few seco

nds on ground after touchdown. Jet aircraft of today are equipped with antiskid devices, but for that to work the wheels must spin first. So what is recommended to the pilots is to touch down firmly to dispel the thin layer of water between the tyres and the runway surface and let the auto brakes commence the braking action. However, if braking manually, initially the pilot must go easy on the brakes and progressively use maximum braking (foot pedal pressure). It is also reported that the engines were shut down. Did such action make the reverse thrust from the engines unavailable for stopping? The pilots could have used maximum reverse thrust till the aircraft came to a stop. (In some B 737 models pilots could even use reverse thrust to reverse from the parking stand without the aid of a tractor.) They could have even ‘cooked’ the engines by exceeding operating temperatures if necessary to save lives. The safety experts say that with reference to Flight Operations, the Captain should himself, (his own ability) know his crew,(How well did the Captain know his First Officer?), know his aircraft, (B737-800), know his mission (Flying passengers safely from Dubai to Calicut), and above all, factors that continuously evaluate the risks.(Rain, down- wind, should I continue the approach? wet runway, can I stop, safely?)

 

Were the pilots aware of their precarious situation? (ie) that they were going to overrun this runway. If so, at what point of time did they realise that they will be unable to stop. Only the recovered black boxes (Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder) will be able to shed some light to the accident investigators. One thing we know for sure. The aircraft went down a slope and impacted a solid perimeter wall, killing both pilots and passengers. The force of the impact broke the aircraft in two.

Here is what one rescuer said “Most challenging was to bring out the two pilots. They were both found in an unconscious state. Because of the impact of the crash, the cockpit cabin got separated from the rest of the aircraft and had rammed the perimeter wall of the airport. The speed of the plane must have been very high because the cockpit cabin got stuck into the wall. Luckily, we found a JCB machine on the main road across the wall. It was used to demolish a portion of the wall. The firefighters and medical staff then used equipment to cut open the body of the aircraft to pull out the two pilots. Their rescue alone took close to an hour.

Their bodies were badly damaged. Both of them were rushed to the hospital without any delay,”

Most developed countries have perimeter fences instead of solid airport walls to prevent this sort of unfortunate accidents.

India is an exception. The Indian airport authorities are forced to have walls to prevent encroachment of cattle and the community who tend to use the airport premises as public open air toilets! In airports, like Mumbai, men and women, from the slums, in the vicinity, climb over the walls every morning, to do what they have to do, on the airport side. The walls act as a deterrent but create a safety hazard. On the morning of 12th October ’2018 a Boeing 737, departing Triruchinapoly, Kerala, India, for Dubai, UAE, hit the perimeter wall on departure, but was miraculously saved.

Every year, during the monsoon time, runway overruns and other occurrences, in India, are frequent. This year, there were six occurrences in India alone. On 29th April 2020, SpiceJet Boeing 737- 800 in a place called Shirdi; 30th June’2020, in Mangalore. Air India Express; 30th June, another smaller SpiceJet DH dash 8 in Surat; 1st July 2020, a SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 overran the runway, in Mumbai; 1st July ’2020, there was  a hard landing of Air India Express B737.-800 in Calicut; 2nd July 2020, another SpiceJet almost veered off the runway, running over some runway edge lights. In Kolkata. The last being the fatal accident B 737-800, on August 7th 2020.

The weather, in the Western Coast of Sri Lanka, is Identical to that of Kerala, during the South West Monsoon. There is a similar safety hazard, at the Galle Road end, of the Ratmalana Airport. The wall was introduced by the SLAF, during the time of war, to prevent public peering into the airport which posed a greater risk than losing an aircraft with passengers on an overrun (excursion) and the subsequent impact with the concrete wall. Since the situation has now changed, the SLAF has no problem if the wall is removed. An essential part of ‘Safety Management’ is learning from accidents committed by other Operators. Runway over runs in intense rain, don’t only happen to others but could occur in our own back yard. For over eight years this writer, and many others, have been trying to convince the authorities that this solid Concrete wall is an accident waiting to happen and should be replaced by a fence, as in other airports of the world in keeping with international safety standards. Unfortunately, there are three ‘co-owners’ of the concrete wall. The Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka (CAASL), Airport and Aviation Ltd, Sri Lanka (AASL) and the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF). This was pointed out as an unnecessary hazard to air operations at many Policy Development Meetings at Temple Trees. The SLAF said they had no objection for its removal (since the 30-year war was over). Although the AASL was standing by for its removal, the CAASL was ‘foot dragging’

After the B 737 incident in Triruchinapoly, India, 27 very Senior Pilot Instructors and Designated Flight Operations Inspectors (totalling flying experience of 330,500 flying hours) forwarded an appeal to the then Director General of the CAA requesting him to remove the wall as it created a definite safety hazard to operations at the Ratmalana.

Later, on a further appeal by the Aircraft Owners and Operators Association, Sri Lanka, the New Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority declared that he has no objection for the replacement of the solid wall with a fence. The AASL is now proceeding to check with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) again for concurrence. The merry-go-round continues. The advertisements on the said wall may be the problem as millions of Rupees have changed hands. Thus putting a price tag on air safety.

It seems strange that in a country where the authorities have removed the walls of Police Stations without hesitation, we are unable to remove this hazardous wall. Are we waiting for a fatal accident to happen in our neck of the woods?

“IF YOU THINK THAT SAFETY IS EXPENSIVE, TRY HAVING AN ACCIDENT”

— Jerome Lederer Flight Safety Foundation

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

Sat Mag

George Floyd, African-Americans, and Sri Lanka’s Estate Tamils (Part I)

Published

on

By Uditha Devapriya

Over two weeks, the George Floyd protests spread practically everywhere. From Kansas to Kenya, from Baltimore to Berlin, they turned into symbols of dissent against not just the racism, but also the xenophobia, of White America.

One of the most haunting images to emerge from the demonstrations was that of a young Sri Lankan girl, draped in the flag of her country, posing defiantly on the streets of an American city. The image and the girl in it attracted both support and opposition, the latter coming from militant Sinhala nationalists who felt she dishonoured a national symbol by using it as a sign of civil disobedience involving a domestic issue of another country.

The response of the nationalists to the George Floyd uprisings was, if at all, amusing. One section of this crowd took to social media to condemn White America for exhibiting its racist, chauvinist face yet again. Another section – no less big or significant – took the opposite stance, censuring those protesting against the murder of a black civilian because, to them at least, Floyd’s murder did not warrant the rampaging and the pillaging of public property. To the latter group, these protests seemed disproportionate to what they regarded as an instance of police authority enforcing the law over a minority community.

The few within the nationalist crowd who did support the raging protests were, even more amusingly, taken to task on social media by another group, this one ideologically opposed to nationalism. The latter crowd seemed to think, not without justification, that the nationalists sharing posts and posting comments against White America were myopic: they seemed to sympathise with George Floyd, but not with the Tamils and Muslims of Sri Lanka, whom the anti-nationalists alleged are as discriminated against over here as George Floyd’s community is over there. Thus both nationalists opposed to the protests AND anti-nationalists critiquing the selectivity of those supporting the protests persisted in comparing African-Americans to the Tamils and Muslims of Sri Lanka.

In that sense the protests taught us two important lessons. Though they don’t form the subject of this essay, they are relevant to it, and hence need to be examined.

Firstly, the inability of many Sinhala nationalists to take their struggle against neo-colonialism and Western hegemony forward. Resistance to colonialism has historically formed the bedrock of the Sinhala nationalist lobby, yet their denunciations of this uprising betrayed a failure to think beyond geographic borders. This came out quite despairingly in their reaction to the only local political party that saw it fit to organise a protest in front of the US Embassy. The government’s crackdown on the demonstration didn’t seem to ruffle their feathers, nor did the point that the demonstrators were making.

Secondly, and just as importantly, the inability of local left-liberal outfits to come up with a proper front, in Sri Lanka, against the George Floyd murder. The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) organised the protest against the US Embassy, while the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) organised a discussion on it online. But neither of these belongs to what is traditionally labelled as “civil society.” The point can be made that the issue at the centre of these protests was not Sri Lankan and that is why civil society ignored it, but that excuse pales away when one considers that the moment sections of the nationalist crowd let out their anger at the US’s handling of the protests, certain social media civil society activists focused their energies more on pointing out the hypocrisy of the nationalists.

Despite the hostile exchanges between the two factions, one particular point brought them together: their comparison of African-Americans to Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims. They underscored this comparison from two different vantage points.

Thus the nationalists who critiqued the protests seemed to believe that, like extremist Tamils and Muslims, African-Americans and other minorities in the US were unfairly questioning the legitimacy of rule by an ethnic majority. Those opposed to the nationalists, on the other hand, inadvertently, by their critique of the nationalists’ sidelining of Tamils and Muslims, equated the latter two with the community which Floyd hailed from. The question to be asked here is whether such an analogy is, if not plausible, then at least tenable.

In 2011, a year before Barack Obama won election for a second term, Vinod Moonesinghe wrote a cogent reply to someone who in an article had wished for a Tamil or Muslim to be elected as this country’s leader. Vinod made two points there: considering Obama’s win as a win for all African-Americans failed to distinguish between his class origins and those of most African-Americans; and equating African-Americans with Tamils and Muslims was anachronistic, given the economically privileged status of the latter two groups.

Taking class and caste into consideration, then, Ranasinghe Premadasa’s election win seemed closer to such a comparison than the potential coming to power of a member of a “minority.” Taking class, caste, AND ethnicity into consideration, the analogy would have to extend, not to Jaffna and Colombo Tamils, Moors, and Malays, or Borahs and Sindhis, but instead to a community that, like the blacks of the US, was imported as dirt cheap labour, cut off from the rest of the population, and supervised under a setup no different to the plantations of the southern US. In other words, the migrant Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Before making an analogy between these two groups, though, it would do well to reflect, very briefly, on the historical trajectory of slavery in the West.

Following the Arab invasions of the seventh and eighth centuries, Europe turned inward. The eminent historian Fernand Braudel has written of a “second serfdom” that sprang up in parts of the continent where feudalism failed to give way to capitalism. The result was the growth of a kind of slavery, white slavery, across the East, in what is now Russia; it’s a testament to the legacy of the trade which emerged there that the word “slave” derived from the ethnicity of those marshalled into it from that region, Slav.

With the influence of the Arabs and the Ottoman Turks after them waning after the fall of Granada in 1492 (the same year Columbus “discovered” the New World), a liberated Europe, discovering hitherto unchartered colonies in the Americas on one side and Australia on the other, gradually instituted a system of indentured white bondage.

It has been estimated that around 67% of all white immigrants to the new colonies arrived there as servants. These immigrants were bound to a contract that compelled them to work for an overseer, without pay, over a specified period of time. Most often such contracts were drawn for those who had a prior obligation to these overseers which they couldn’t meet, such as a debt. Since the government usually didn’t interfere with these contracts, extortion and kidnappings became common, as they would among Africans later on. The situation was such that even in as late as 1910 the US government was trying to put an end to white slavery: the White Slave Traffic Act (or the Mann Act) that year made it a felony to transport women across state borders for the purposes of “prostitution or debauchery.”

Debt bondage, however, applied in the early period only to white immigrants to the white colonies, and the Irish; the difference between their situation and that of African slaves was that the latter were never recruited to pay off an obligation; most of them ended up as lifelong labourers, unpaid and treated as chattel or property. As Liam Stack once observed, “[u]nlike slaves, servants were considered legally human.”

To put this in its proper perspective, the position of those shipped to the sugar plantations of the West Indies and the cotton mills of the southern United States fitted that of neither indentured servants nor wage labourers. The process of recruiting and transporting these Africans, in the long term, thus became, as Gordon K. Lewis put it, “quasi-militarised”, while once quartered in the plantations their owners did everything to isolate the unfortunate immigrants, prisoners really, from the world outside.

Revisionist historians, white and black, have tried to understate the full weight of black slavery, either by pointing at the involvement of African intermediaries in it or by showing that European Christians became as entangled in it as Africans.

Thus Robert Davis (Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters) argues that while the Atlantic slave trade was 12 times as large, more Christians than Africans were captured between 1500 and 1650, while Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (“How Many Slaves Landed in the US?”) contends that of the 10.7 million Africans who survived the passage to the West, “only about 388,000” were shipped to the United States. What these “findings” fail to show is that black slavery was not geographically limited to the US, or for that matter to Western Europe, and that from 1530 to 1780, when more than five million Africans found themselves dispatched to Portugal and Brazil, only about a million Christians were forced into servitude in North Africa, along the Barbary Coast and into the Ottoman Empire.

The Abolitionist movement, no doubt representative of a progressive, enlightened wing in the Evangelical Revival, agitated for African slavery’s end. It did this as much for moral reasons as for pragmatic ones; the rise in Britain of an industrial Whig bourgeoisie over a landed Tory gentry and the expansion of British interests in Asia and Africa had by then necessitated the rise of plantation colonialism. It is hence not a coincidence that African slaves in the British West Indies were emancipated by official proclamation in the same year (1833) that the most ambitious set of administrative proposals were tabled in Sri Lanka (Colebrooke-Cameron) to lay the foundation for the new colonial plantation economy.

Against this backdrop, black slavery soon receded to countries where a white settler class predominated, including Rhodesia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. S. B. D. de Silva in The Political Economy of Underdevelopment refers to these as “settler states”, a distinction I will return to later. In any case, what we have here is the first of many differences between the plight of African-Americans and that of Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims.

Plantation colonialism demolished and also made use of existing traditional political, cultural, social, and economic patterns in much of Asia and Africa. The most immediate result of that, of course, was the impoverishment of the peasantry; in Sri Lanka, as we know, the peasantry most directly affected by these policies remained the Kandyan Sinhalese.

Marx was largely correct in his comparison of British domination of India to that of Ireland. He was more prescient in the implication that the British brought with them to the colonies their experience in subjugating the Irish peasantry. Two policies make it clear to what extent they were following the Irish example in India and Sri Lanka: the expropriation of peasant land, and the pursuit of divide and rule. I shall turn to these next week, and with them, the growth and evolution of Indian migrant labour.

To be continued next week…

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

Continue Reading

Sat Mag

Imagine yourself being fried and eaten bit by bit

Published

on

I cannot make up my mind: Is the meat eater, who eats dead animals killed in slaughterhouses, worse than the meat eater who kills the animal himself while eating it?

There is a certain type of person who goes to a restaurant, chooses a live fish, octopus shrimp or snake in a transparent aquarium tank, has it taken out of the glass and killed and cooked in front of him. His only reason for this to himself is that the meat should be “fresh”. In actual fact some people truly enjoy suffering. That, for them, is as important as the taste.

What can I say about people who enjoy eating these foods?

The Chinese Ying Yang fish is fried but kept alive. You can see videos of diners prodding at the face and eyes with their chopsticks while the fish struggles to breathe with its mouth and gills. It is prepared extremely quickly, with care not to damage the internal organs, so that the fish can remain alive for 30 minutes. Fish are the most sensitive of all to pain. Imagine yourself being fried and then eaten bit by bit.

In Japan, Sashimi, which means pierced body, is a common Japanese dish consisting of fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces and eaten with soy sauce. One kind of Sashimi is Ikizukuri (“prepared alive”) made with live sea beings. Fish and octopus are common ingredients that move on the plate as you eat them. Sashimi could also include live frogs. The frog is stripped of its skin while alive and stabbed delicately with a fork and eaten. One restaurant in Shinjuku serves the frog’s fresh, still beating heart, as starters. Lobsters are not always boiled alive and dead by the time they reach your plate. Restaurants in New York serve lobsters while they’re still alive. They are upturned and diners pick out “belly sashimi” from the lobster which flails in pain for all the time you take to slash and take out his stomach meat. Another common dish in Japan is swallowing live baby eels dipped in vinegar and saké.

In South Korea, Sannakji is a dish that involves hacking the tentacles off a baby octopus and serving them still wriggling. Sannakji connoisseurs enjoy the sensation of the still-active suction cups on the octopus’ arms as they stick to the mouth.

The Chinese cannot be bested for their addiction to cruelty. Live shrimp are put into a liquor called Baijiu and diners bite their heads off while drinking it. This can give you lung fluke disease, but what is more important than proving your manhood by killing a shrimp. In China there is a dish called “Three squeaks” in which live baby mice are dunked in sauce and eaten alive. The reason why it is called “Three Squeaks” is due to the sounds the mice make when grabbed with chopsticks, dunked in the sauce and bitten through.

Raw live baby monkey brain is a very expensive dish eaten by rich people in China and Hong Kong. The chef puts a live monkey beneath a table with its head poking up through a hole. The chef slices the top of the head off and the customers eat its brains while it screams. Fresh baby donkey, or Huo Jiao Lu. The animal has its legs tied and its body held down, while the chef cuts its body and serves the meat immediately to customers.

Live baby duck embryos, just a day from being hatched, are a famous Chinese specialty which is now common in the Philippines as well. In the latter country it is called Balut. The Filipinos eat the egg boiled. The Chinese eat it raw to get the full taste of the egg white, the little yolk left, and the live squirming chick. No wonder the Chinese make such dangerous enemies. They love violence and gore.

Odori ebi or “dancing shrimp” is a Japanese sashimi in which the baby pink shrimp is still moving its legs and antennae while being eaten. The shrimp only dies when chewed. Odori Don is a live cuttlefish whose tentacles twitch as you pour the soy and chew it.

Consuming the beating heart and blood of live snakes is common in Vietnam. You choose the live snake at roadside stalls and they cut it and serve it within a minute. I have seen this in Hong Kong. In China people eat live baby snakes.

Sea urchins are the porcupines of the sea; globular animals with long spines to defend themselves. They live on the seabed. But their spines cannot protect them from human greed. They are caught and served live. Their testicles are a delicacy across the world, specially Europe. The live animal is cut on the plate with scissors and its salty gonads are taken out and eaten raw.

The most common animal to be eaten alive is the oyster which is served alive. Its spine is broken, and its insides are slurped up raw. This was originally a French dish but is now eaten all over.

A famous chain of restaurants in Copenhagen serves salads crawling with live ants supposedly to add a zesty taste. These move slowly because they have been kept in the fridge previously. Wichetty grubs are chewed live in parts of Australia. They are said to taste like nutty fried eggs.

Casu Marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese eaten in Italy.  Its specialty is that it contains the live maggots of the cheese fly, which jump about in panic as you scrunch them. Casu Marzu has so much ammonia in it from its faeces that it scorches the tongue. Milk cheeses containing living insect larvae are produced in several Italian regions.

Television game shows that I have repeatedly complained about to the Ministry over the years is Fear Factor and Survivor where contestants eat live insects, spiders, cockroaches and worms. But by the time they take action, the series is already over. Then we start the cycle again with the next series. Man vs Wild is another show in which Bear Gryllis shows his manhood by eating live insects.

What is the word for people who demand food that is so full of pain? Monsters? Ugly terrifying evil beings that are probably a menace to human society as well. 

(To join the animal

welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.

peopleforanimalsindia.org)

Continue Reading

Sat Mag

The elephant and alli mankada

Published

on

By Ashley de Vos

In 1999, a proposal was made by the undersigned as President of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka, to document from the existing information in the Department of Wildlife Conservation, held in the archives of Mr. Wilson, an erudite Officer, and draw a map showing the original Alli Mankada, as they existed prior to 1977. Many ‘Experts’ objected, that they had all changed. They had all changed, yes, but we were after the Ayurveda solution to the problem, instead of the ampicillin solution of the western educated experts.

As a quick fix an ampicillin solution in the form of an electric fence was promoted and installed at enormous cost. This we all know has failed. These elephants for centuries have travelled from A to B along the Alli Mankada. Today this highway or the Mankada they travelled along has been blocked, and a detour has been introduced. Let’s apply the very same scenario to us humans. We are merrily travelling along the highway with our family trying to get to B. Half way we are confronted with a road block, we are not told why, but forced to take a detour. We have now to travel along narrow roads, not properly sign posted, across unfamiliar territory, meet new people, some friendly, some not, they are agitated, because of the sudden increase in traffic encroaching into their privacy and disrupting their life styles as well. Some put up boards requesting that the traffic should move slowly and hope the detour would be closed down and the highway opened up as soon as possible.

The poor elephant faces the very same scenario. They have travelled the highway, the Alli Mankada for centuries. Suddenly without any warning, due to a politically influenced decision and without a bird brain of thought the elephant highway, the Alli Mankada is closed. The disruption could be a badly located chicken farm belonging to a friend of the politician, an ill designed housing scheme, or the indiscriminate distribution of land usually for political expediency. Remember the people have a vote, the elephants don’t. The elephant journey from A to B, now for no real researched reason has been diverted through new areas. Through villagers have never seen the movement of the elephant herds in their village before. Some of the coconut trees destroyed are close to 10 years of more. They had been safe till the indiscriminate blocking of the Alli Mankada that diverted the herds, via electric fences in a new direction.

It is certainly not the fault of the elephant, but they are forced to suffer, they are shot, they are electrocuted, fed the insane Hakka Pattas. Those who indulge in this method, should lose any good karma that they may have accrued in the past, and be relegated to spend the rest of their million lives in the darkest hell hole. One cannot induce arbitory changes to the Alli Mankada, the fact is that these highways are engraved in the genes, is why we still see elephants climbing Koslanda on their way up to the highest landscapes like Poonagala.

Any good research has to commence from the base not from a contorted half way, leaving elephants on both sides of the electric fence. The cause has to be understood first, to arrive at the real solution. If people have been wrongly settled, if industries have been wrongly placed, if national parks have been compromised, now is the time to change, to get back. To look for permanent solutions, even if it means alternate lands. This would then constitute a permanent solution. To open up the Alli Mankada. We will not need the electric fences or the Hakka Pattas anymore, much to the disappointment of the suppliers. The politicians responsible for creating the illegal encroachments should be taken to task. If the map of the original Alli Mankada could be produced and forwarded to all authorities at least the Officers will understand the possible repercussions of their folly. No one can fane ignorance and say, THEY DID NOT KNOW.

Continue Reading

Trending