As President Maithripala Sirisena presided at a guard-of-honour for the visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, a symbolically important spectacle was the temporarily abandoned multimillion dollar Colombo Port City project. The Chinese government and the new ‘yahapalana’ Sri Lankan government are embroiled in a controversy over this huge project with many independent analysts saying the biggest issue is a priceless one – the environmental impact assessment.
Sri Lanka’s political leaders in this good governance era and in the years and the decades to come need to remember that in any bilateral or international agreement we sign, a core issue will be the environmental impact. World leaders are now in general agreement that unless immediate and effective steps are taken to curb environmental pollution and climate change, the world might destroy itself without bothering to use nuclear bombs.
The new Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka – playing a vital role along with his party in the evolution of the new political culture – lamented this week that the substantial reduction in fuel prices was not having the desired effect because of the selfish and shortsighted attitude that needs to change. The minister said that the petrol price slash by Rs. 33 a litre from January this year had led to a 50 percent increase in the use of High Octane petrol because most vehicle owners were indulging in more non-essential travel. Reports also said as many as 50,000 vehicles – 33,000 motorcycles, 10,000 three-wheelers and 7,000 other vehicles – had been imported in January, partly because of the reduction in fuel prices. This was a staggering 90 percent more than the number of vehicles imported in January last year. Thus the substantial reduction in fuel prices has led to more traffic jams with more time wasted on the streets, more fuel imports and worst of all, more environmental pollution. This is largely because most of our people, starting with political and other leaders, need a paradigm shift or change of perception from selfish or self-centered thinking and attitudes to a broader vision of thinking and working for the common good of the country. Such acts would be much more in the spirit of practical patriotism than the hypocrisy of some political scoundrels for whom false patriotism is the last refuge.
Many are the ways in which loyal citizens of Sri Lanka – individually, as a family or collectively – could contribute towards the reduction of environmental pollution. The Power and Energy Ministry is regularly broadcasting advertisements at peak times advising the people on how they could help to conserve energy, conserve valuable foreign exchange and most importantly curb the self-destructive climate change.
For instance here are some tips on the use of the electric iron. Iron clothes of few days or once a week instead of ironing clothes every day. Start from rough cotton clothes and end in soft clothes. Switch off electricity connection and iron soft clothes using the already heated iron. Keep a thin aluminum paper under the ironing plank. It will reflect the heat allowing the iron to be heated from two directions simultaneously. Keep the iron vertically when keeping the iron away while ironing clothes. Use irons with automatic heat controllers. Do not iron wet clothes.
Here are some tips on the use of the television which is found in almost every house with some families having two or three, though not as notorious as the VIPs who had wide-screen smart televisions even in their washrooms. Do not use only the remote controller to switch off the television but use the switch on the television as well. When a colour television is in stand-by mode it consumes 18-25 watts of electricity. Switch off the lights of the unnecessary areas while watching television.
Try to use electric fans instead of air-conditioners. Cover the windows of the air-conditioned rooms so that the air will not go out. Use curtains and grow trees if the direct sunlight comes to the air-conditioned rooms. Install the air-conditioners in more shady areas of the building. Leave the temperature control at 26°C. Reduction of 1°C will result in the increase of 4% in the cost.
Instead of just voting on Election Day and expecting leaders to handle most things, Sri Lanka needs a participatory democracy of and by the people. Conserving energy is a vital area in the evolution of such an enlightened democracy.
Comments - 4
Ricardo Saturday, 14 March 2015 06:02 AM
Mr Ranawaka I commend you for your comments
ranjani gunewardena Saturday, 14 March 2015 06:47 PM
Great tips for the people to follow. If the rulers try to educate general public like this it is great. Unfortunately last few decades we have crackoes not wisemen to govern our country.
ajith Saturday, 14 March 2015 10:28 PM
Good analysis .But why these factors were not considered before reducing the prices of Fuel for the second time to gain short term cheap political popularity.What would be the position when the world Fuel prices increase in the near future?
Crana Sunday, 15 March 2015 02:20 AM
This is a load of rubbish. Politicians giving advice to ordinary people about power consumption?! What kind of a joke is that. Politicians waste more energy per capita than anybody else in the country. And that is the same whether it is SLFP, UNP or whatever.
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