To stabilise and sustain the new era of good governance, democracy, accountability and social justice, Sri Lanka’s citizens need to go beyond just voting at elections and then being spectators of what is happening or not happening. This is the time, this is the moment for citizens to co-operate in the mission of building a new Sri Lanka and challenge the government when there is a lack of transparency and accountability or when politicians plunder the country instead of serving the people.
Last Saturday the in its editorial focused on the need for enlightened patriotism where the citizens would voluntarily and willingly cooperate in saving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe. Tomorrow is World Water Day and we wish to highlight an impending worldwide crisis over fresh water supplies and what Sri Lanka’s citizens need to do as part of their undiluted, water-tight patriotism.
The theme of World Water Day this year is, ‘Water and Sustainable Development’. A national ceremony to mark this occasion will be held tomorrow at the BMICH, with President Maithripala Sirisena presiding. Addressing the media, National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) Additional General Manager Gerard Fernando said access to safe water was a fundamental human right and need. He warned that Sri Lanka’s development projects were being badly affected by the dwindling water resources.
The Institute of Policy Studies has analysed the need for an integrated water resource management approach as a solution to the impending water crisis. Two IPS experts in a report say hydrologists and water resource economists have suggested that by 2030 one-third of the world population will be based along river basins and the scarcity of water for agriculture will have a tremendous impact on their livelihoods.
The IPS experts say that overall, the world’s water demand will grow from 4,500 billion cubic metres to 6,900 billion cubic metres by 2030 – a 40% increase from the current water supply. Therefore, policy makers around the world are now confronted with the challenge of formulating alternative strategies for water management to address these issues.
There is increasing evidence to suggest that water scarcity is likely to be aggravated by the inevitable reality of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that climate change affects all components of freshwater systems. As a result, water quality and availability will be major issues in the future. Today, close to 70% of the water in the world is used for agricultural purposes and of that, much is utilized by developing countries. Therefore, it is fair to say that, in the future, developing countries will be more affected by water scarcity for agriculture than developed countries.
Expert N. J. Bandara in a paper has examined the most significant water and wastewater related issues in Sri Lanka and their controlling mechanisms. He says the primary problems concerning water resources in Sri Lanka are the depletion and degradation caused by various anthropogenic activities. Surface inland waters in urban areas are polluted heavily with domestic sewage and industrial effluents, and in rural areas with agricultural runoff.
With regard to ground water in certain areas of the dry zone, there is a high fluoride content and in hard, rocky, alluvial areas, there is a high concentration of iron. In urban over-crowded cities, there is biological contamination of ground water. Over-utilization, particularly through tube wells, is another major problem affecting ground water resources in Sri Lanka. Oil spills, dumping of waste from ships, coral and sand mining activities are the main causes of marine pollution in the country. He says that despite government initiatives and legislation, slow progress has been made towards combating water pollution.
Recently the spotlighted several cases where private companies were being allowed to plunder or pollute Sri Lanka’s precious ground water resources. We hope the new Yahapalanaya government will move into Jala Palanaya also while Sri Lanka’s citizens need to co-operate by saving and not wasting or polluting fresh water.