By Lalith Dhammika Mendis
Man has for far too long remained extremely complacent. He has been recklessly foolhardy and foolishly arrogant little realizing what is in store for him. He has unleashed all the rage in the frenzied greed and avarice to hoard power, wealth and whatever he craves in a futile attempt to quench his unending thirst. It is his life time mission, one which is blind to reality. In his selfish quest, nothing that stands in the way of his path is tolerated and spared.
Sri Lanka has been an island of scenery and greenery that could boasts of luxurious wilderness and a wide variety of climatic zones within a relatively small landmass of diverse topography. It has been endowed with enviable scenic beauty and natural surroundings, capable of mesmerizing many of the discerning travellers from the world over. Its rich biodiversity of fauna and flora has been part of our proud heritage. Large expanses of luxurious forest cover that has once formed the traditional habitat of numerous kinds tress, plants, medicinal herbs and a whole gamut of animals, birds and reptiles and numerous creatures and species are under the continued threat of destruction as never before. Myopic actions of the greedy who seek short term gains irrespective of their long term adverse consequences are busy day and night exploiting the precious resources of forest cover created by millions of years of natural evolution. Drastic deforestation carried out in the name of so-called development today is posing many ecological issues threatening the very survival of human beings, some of whom are the vicious agents of self destruction.
State mechanisms and organs that are tasked with the burdensome duty of preserving the natural resources such as forests and their natural inhabitants are badly lacking in required teeth and muscle to ensure enforcement of pertinent laws and regulations. Lack of resources to fight the increasing rate of environmental crime has made these organs practically ineffective in arresting the undesirable trend of ongoing environmental degradation.
Sri Lanka once considered the land of lush greenery is fast falling prey to avariciousness of the vicious environmental terrorists committing unpardonable crimes against Mother Nature which are causing irreversible destruction affecting the humanity. It is part of the Neo-threat of Global Eco-Terrorism perpetrated by shortsighted miscreants heralding the impending Doomsday facing the inhabitants of planet earth and we in Sri Lanka are facing our own predicament at the hands of the environmental criminals of our own soil doing their part of the sinister act aimed at devastating the whole eco system essential for healthy existence of all living beings.
Acceleration of the large scale raping and plunder of the pristine natural surroundings for commercial exploitation is creating vast patches of barren land, in areas which once existed as vast tracts of dense wilderness. Declining vegetation and rain forests are undoubtedly taking a heavy toll on the fragile environment leading to prolonged periods of dry weather injurious to the sustainability of natural sources of water and cultivations. This causes inevitable shortage of agricultural produce consumed by people whilst driving their prices sky high. People who are already suffering due to soaring cost of living are now perishing under the heavy weight of sky rocketing vegetable prices. There more of these in the pipe line in the form of prolonged power cuts occasioned by the drastic drop in the production of hydro electricity as vast reservoirs are sadly drying up exposing their bottoms which were for long hiding beneath huge masses of water.
If we remain lackadaisical or deliberately negligent, disaster is inevitable. Whilst its magnitude could be colossal, its impact would be catastrophic. We could remain selfishly unconcerned becoming passive spectators of the ongoing calamity. If we are patriotic citizens, we are duty bound to initiate tangible action than offering eloquent lip service to arrest and reverse the trend of degeneration with a view to restoring the lost riches.
Our inaction or failure to act decisively in a time bound manner would be one-way-ticket to doom.