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Editorial-Water-tight patriotism

9 December 2013 12:43 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Most people today appear to have taken fresh water for granted despite the continuing crisis over drinking water in many parts of the country including Ratupaswala. In some other parts of the country also people struggle or walk several kilometres to get some fresh drinking water while cultivators in some parts of the country are often without water for cultivation.

The water situation in the Northern Province is reported to have reached a crisis point with tens of thousands of people not having fresh water or drinking water. One of the proposals in the original Mahaveli development project was to divert the river to the North also, but that was not done. Some experts say the solution now may have to include desalination of the sea water, as done in Israel and other countries.

The bigger issue about fresh water is that within a decade the world may be so critically short of fresh water that powerful countries may even go to war to grab the resources of less powerful or poorer countries. The United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming its aim was to counter terrorism. But most independent analysts believe the hidden agenda was to take control of the massive untapped oil and natural gas resources in Iraq. The war has created a bloodier crisis in Iraq, but the US achieved its hidden agenda with American companies taking control of major oil companies. The agenda in Afghanistan was for the US to get pipelines through that country for fuel supplies from Central Asian nations.

If and when powerful countries go to war to grab control of fresh water, Sri Lanka may become one of the targets. We have been blessed with several major rivers, and the Government needs to make sure that no trans-national company gains control of our fresh water supplies. Some years ago, attempts were made to do this, but thankfully the Rajapaksa regime resisted the deals. However a big foreign soft drink company was recently given a contract to set up a bottling plant here, and the people need to be informed of how many million litres of water this company will take out of our country every year.

In the times of our kings fresh water was considered as precious, and effective steps were taken to conserve it. Often quoted still is King Parakramabahu’s famous plea that we need to make use of every drop of rain water without letting it flow into the sea. These were kings who practised what they preached and preached what they practiced. One of the important steps taken in the time of the kings was the building of thousands of wewas which are even today regarded as master-pieces of irrigation engineering. Most of these wewas have now been drowned in a sea of political deception though the JVP when it was in the UPFA government made an abortive attempt to rebuild some of these wewas.

At the base, the people themselves need to enter into water-tight patriotism and make every effort to conserve fresh water. The aim must be not only to reduce their water bills but to help conserve a life-saving natural resource. We could conserve water in a multitude of ways - opening taps only partly while washing and closing them while applying soap, reducing our shower bath time by five minutes, not using fresh water to wash vehicles, recycling water from the bathroom to the toilet system, rainwater harvesting and other methods. Little drops of water conserved by millions of people will make an ocean of fresh water.
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