Some of the worst ever ice, snowstorms and floods in several parts of the United States, Britain, Japan and other countries provide devastating evidence of the effects of climate change due to global warming. The Government and people of Sri Lanka, instead of just watching this floody hell on television, need to take urgent and effective action to avert such a calamity or catastrophe here too.
Our sister paper the Sunday Times on February 16 reported that the Cabinet had appointed a high-level ministerial sub-committee to propose within a month, ways of averting a breakdown in power generation and possible power cuts, largely due to the prolonged drought. Another reason for this crisis is the ‘Always Breakdown’ situation at the Chinese-built Norochcholai coal power plant. The multi-million dollar plant was built despite strong opposition by the people of the area - on the basis that it would provide a large percentage of Sri Lanka’s power requirement. But with the coal power dream turning cold, there have been suggestions for China to take direct control of the plant, though the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union strongly opposes this.
" We are fiddling with environmental self-destruction and though there are no LTTE suicide bombers now, we seem to be encouraging environmental suicide bombers. Not only in the power sector, but there is a major crisis in the water supply sector too "
Scientific evidence has shown that coal power causes far too much environmental pollution and contributes towards global warming. China itself has stopped building coal power plants in its own country, so it is dumping the technology on third-world countries. If one plant was not enough, India has been given a controversial contract to build another coal power plant at Sampur in the Trincomalee district. We don’t know whether that would be better or worse than Norochcholai and we might have to go to Old King Cole’s fiddlers for an answer. Jokes apart, we are fiddling with environmental self-destruction and though there are no LTTE suicide bombers now, we seem to be encouraging environmental suicide bombers.
Not only in the power sector, but there is a major crisis in the water supply sector too. The water levels in the Kelani Ganga and other rivers have gone down so much that sea water has seeped in and the water in these rivers is not safe for drinking. The Water Supply and Drainage Ministry is reported to have asked the Ministry of Irrigation Resources to reduce the supply of water for cultivation so that more water could be provided for drinking. But such a move could provoke an adverse reaction from the farmer community, and therefore water cuts are being considered. Whatever the Government does or does not do, we urge the truly patriotic people of Sri Lanka to help avert a crisis by reducing the use of electricity and fresh water. The Daily Mirror in its Editorials has regularly shown how people could do this - by switching off non-essential lights, opening taps only partly for hand washing, reducing shower/bath time and installing the means to divert bath water to the cisterns in the toilets. There are many other ways and we hope the people would respond positively. The Government on its part needs to insist that ministers, MPs and other politicians set the example by reducing the use of electricity and fresh water. An independent committee of experts also needs to be appointed to recommend short and long-term methods to avert the calamities of global warming. Among immediate methods that experts recommend are a reduction in the number of private vehicles on the streets and curbing the cutting down of trees or deforestation.
The US, Britain and Japan, with all their hi-tech defence mechanisms, have been battered by the storms and floods with millions of people still struggling in the winter without central heating or power. Sri Lanka’s defence mechanisms are not so advanced, and a similar calamity would have devastating effects.