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26 February 2015 07:38 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

I'm Nature. Some people call me Mother Nature. I’ve been here for more than 41/2 billion years, 22,500 times longer than you. I don’t really need people. I have fed species greater than you and I have starved species greater than you. My oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests, they all can take you or leave you. I am ready to evolve. Are you? ” states a clip repeatedly telecast on a worldwide news channel. This clip is from the environmental organisation, Conservation International and it is deeply appealing though some critics say it is a creepy, anti-human clip.

Whatever it is the new National Unity Government in Sri Lanka needs to give as much priority to anti-pollution measures as it is giving to measures to eliminate corruption and take action against political VIPs who allegedly plundered billions from public funds and resources. It was tragical, if not fearful to hear that in January this year—the first month of the new all-party government—as many as 50,000 vehicles were imported, 90% more than the figure in January last year. Among the imports were 30,000 motorcycles, 7,000 three-wheelers and 13,000 other vehicles. This may be the reason why traffic congestion in Colombo, the suburbs and other cities is becoming unbearable. More so millions of litres of fuel are wasted in these traffic jams, the environment is polluted to dangerous levels and tens of thousands of people are wasting precious time stuck in traffic jams. 

Power and energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, who is playing an important hi-tech role in the evolution of the new government, has severely condemned the attitude of the people. He said  recently that the decision taken to slash the price of petrol by as much as Rs.33 a litre, kerosene by Rs.26 and diesel by Rs.18  was not being passed down to the people to reduce the cost of living. This was the main purpose of slashing fuel prices by reducing taxes. The minister said that instead of passing the benefits down to the suffering people some selfish vehicle owners were using more fuel because the price had been slashed. Mr. Ranawaka said this was not the intention of the government and if the benefits of the price reduction of fuel and other essential commodities were not passed down to the people the government would have to take some tough counter action.  

Since January 9, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other party leaders have been taking effective action to restore good governance, democracy, social justice and a new culture where politicians come forward to serve and give to the people, not to dominate and grab from them. A vital part of the evolution of this new culture is the active participation of the people and civic action groups. It is not enough for people to cast their votes at election and just be spectators of what the politicians are doing. The sovereign people now need to put that sovereignty into practice and become active participants in the process, making a critical analysis of what the politicians are doing or not doing. 

Besides the huge traffic jams and environmental pollution caused by thousands of additional vehicles, statistics show that the number of accidents is also increasing. More than 2,300 people were killed in road accidents in 2013 averaging six deaths a day, according to the latest statistics. The figures for last year must be about double and at the rate we are going this year the figure might be treble, about 18 deaths a day—a crime against humanity.

While the government takes some action it is the people who need to become civic conscious and begin measuring our carbon footprints.. That means we should see how much we are polluting our country and take effective steps to reduce it by various means including the more frequent use of public transport and less private transport. That would be a practical and powerful form of patriotism.

  Comments - 1

  • simon Friday, 27 February 2015 07:46 PM

    In SL it is pride and prestige to own a car and to drive regardless the inconvenience and the damage that is caused. Due to our Sri Lankans attitude and values there will be more and more accidents regardless of any strict rules that is implemented. For any changes it will take two more generations and same goes to corrupt politics !

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