With the government and the people of Sri Lanka still focusing attention on effective relief and rehabilitation measures for more than half a million victims of the ongoing deluge, we need to join the international community in giving emphasis to the long term battle against climate change and its catastrophic effects.
Across the world and from this week in Sri Lanka, a powerful television message or warning is making people aware of the need for us, collectively and individually to be eco-friendly citizens.
In the message now telecast in Sinhala and Tamil also, with breathtaking scenery, Mother Nature say, “Some call me Nature, others call me Mother Nature, I’ve been here for more than four and a half billion years, twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you, I don’t really need people but people need me, yes, your future depends on me, when I thrive, you thrive, when I falter, you falter or worse, but I’ve been here for aeons, 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. How you chose to live each day whether you regard or, disregard me doesn’t really matter to me. One way or the other your actions will determine your fate not mine. I am nature, I will go on, I am prepared to evolve, are you?”
Sri Lanka’s parliament will meet in a special session today, to discuss one of the biggest ever relief, rehabilitation and resettlement measures, since the 2004 Tsunami. At a meeting of the Special Presidential Task Force which will monitor the massive operations, President Maithirpala Sirisena declared all areas affected by floods and landslides as High Security Zones (HSZs) and ordered officials to bring all houses affected by disaster under proper technical evaluation before the
resettlement of families.
The Task Force also decided to ban from the reclamation of lands in the Western Province. The Daily Mirror in its editorial on Tuesday spotlighted the disastrous effects of the widespread takeover of wetlands or marshlands for the construction of huge luxury housing complexes or other buildings. Scientists see this as one of the main reasons for the worst ever floods in 25 years. Wetlands or marshlands act as a massive sponge for flood waters besides being a biological supermarket where hundreds of rare species thrived to maintain biodiversity and the eco-balance.
The President said these measures were taken to prevent a recurrence of flood havoc. Officials said that unauthorised settlements and reclamation of lands had led to the current disaster. President Sirisena said the government was ready to allocate any amount of money, even up to Rs.15 billion for the relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of flood victims. Thankfully the armed services, the Police and the Civil Defence Force are also playing a major role in the rescue and relief operations, ensuring they are carried out effectively and also preventing criminal elements from taking inhuman advantage by robbing relief materials or looting the houses of those who had been forced to flee because of
raging flood waters.
The international community also is pouring in aid for flood relief and rehabilitation work. As we have stressed earlier the national unity government must ensure transparency and accountability for every dollar spent and make sure that the corruption and fraud that took place after the 2004 Tsunami are not repeated. The people, including the flood victims also need to understand the complex issues and cooperate with the eco-friendly, all inclusive rebuilding and development strategy.