The Daily Mirror in our editorial yesterday focussed attention on the national Government’s plans for the weeklong celebrations to mark the first anniversary of the people’s silent revolution on January 8. President Maithripala Sirisena and other government leaders have insisted there should be no wasteful expenditure, luxury or extravagant events to mark this historic occasion. Instead every ministry is called upon to launch a mega development project in line with the midterm economic strategy outlined by Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe in November.
The first and most important of these projects was launched on New Year ’s Day—the Western Province and Megapolis development plan whereby not only Colombo but all major cities would be developed to ease the pressure on Colombo. While we hope the National Government will walk the talk and implement the projects instead of just boasting about them, Sri Lanka’s people who played the key role in the historic turn of events on January 8 also need to play their role as sovereign citizens.
President Sirisena has explained that poverty alleviation and effective steps to restrict global warming and carbon emission mainly by developing new sources of renewable energy will be the priority issues for 2016. It is essential that people need to cooperate effectively if these issues are to be successfully implemented.
This is the time for New Year resolutions. Unfortunately most of us break them soon after we make them. With the climate change catastrophe specially being seen as the world’s last chance, we need to act effectively on our resolutions.
With the world facing a freshwater shortage in the coming decade, one resolution could be to conserve water. There are several ways. When washing hands or utensils, don’t open the tap fully. We could cut down our shower time by 5 minutes and if possible find a way of diverting shower water to the cistern in the toilet. We need to stop using fresh water to wash vehicles or to water plants. The water used to wash vegetables and other food items could be preserved to water the garden. These and similar water conservation measures may be difficult but with the world facing a crisis such action could be seen as watertight patriotism.
Until Sri Lanka finds substantial quantities of renewable energy from the sun, wind and other sources, we also need to cut down on the electricity we use. Not just to reduce our electricity bills but as an electrifying way to reduce fossil fuels. Thereby knocking off unnecessary lights and reducing the use of electrical appliances will also be powerful acts of patriotism.
Another area which could be practised by all people is to gradually reduce the use of sili sili bags, polythene and plastics. Hundreds of thousands of polythene sheets are used daily to wrap lunch or dinner. These cause immense environmental damage. When we go shopping to supermarkets or other grocery stores we need to take the trouble to carry a bag made of cloth so that most items except meat and fish could be put into the cloth bag. The environmental protection authority is running an effective advertising campaign where a customer produces a cloth bag and the sales person says if tens of thousands of Sri Lankan do the same we could substantially reduce the damage caused by plastics or polythene.
There are stainless steel boxes to carry meals and even water should be carried in such containers because plastic is known to be bad for water. Another practical area which many in the west are doing is to measure our carbon footprints. The government needs to workout a more efficient public and private bus operation to encourage people to leave their vehicles behind and use public transport. This will reduce traffic congestion which has reached its worst ever proportions and leads to a massive waste of fuel, pollution of the air and the waste of precious time. If we think deeply and examine our conscience there could be many more ways in which we could save ourselves and save the world from environmental self destruction.