The Sunday Leader

The Way To Success: Splendiferous Living Or Simplicity And Austerity?

Despite the many grand visions politicians have for taking Sri Lanka into modern paradisiacal realms – the latest being Singapore – the state is yet to provide some of the basic amenities required for a community: such as a hygienic and safe environment in addition to food, clothing and shelter. During the Rajapaksa regime we heard of this country being the ‘hub’ to so many things in technological development, arts and culture but when we look around we see nothing very much to rejoice other than a few highways.

Much was said about making Colombo beautiful but it really amounted to adding cosmetic changes to Colombo 7 that was devastated in certain areas such as the racecourse environs by socialist oriented rulers to show their repugnance to affluence to please the have-nots.

The Yahapalanaya government should now get on to provide basic amenities of the poor rather than aim for shiny new high rise buildings and shopping malls. It is time to take a pledge that when the next monsoon comes along the poor will not be made to suffer as they did during this monsoon. Sure enough one hundred per cent cover to all affected will not be possible in one year but development projects should be put in place to see that a start has been made to resolve the problems by gradual elimination.

Now that the floods have receded somewhat and threat to life and property lessened, the problems of the less fortunate should not be cast away. The tears shed by visiting politicians at scenes of disasters can only be proved to be sincere if only real efforts are made to keep them.

It is imperative that projects should be worked out to provide those whose homes were threatened or washed away by the turbulent sea or inundated by swollen rivers. Those whose homes are threatened by earth slips should be moved out soon not to temples and schools for temporary shelter but to new homes built for them. A sustained political commitment is called for.

Quite apart from calamities caused by nature there is the need to meet the day-to-day demands of the common man. Garbage disposal is a problem which all previous governments including the present has failed to come to terms with.

Dumping waste of a city or town in an area where less fortunate people live or in another town cannot be a solution to garbage disposal.

While consumerism that caught on in this country after the1970s, massive garbage mountains have come up at Bloemendhal Road and now at Meetotamulla in Kolonnawa. Floods have aggravated the problem and the Colombo Municipality last week even resorted to dumping its waste in a neighbouring suburb. While garbage disposal is a problem in most Third World countries we shouldn’t consider it an insoluble problem such as squaring the circle and let the garbage mountains grow. Quite obviously it can cause health problems, some of which may not be known to medical science such as the Chronic Kidney Disease now spreading in the Dry Zone.

Garbage disposal has to be treated as national priority. Even wild elephants are reported to be feeding on garbage dumps by the side of some highways and reports say that they are suffering from guts blocked by polythene!

Before the problem gets out of control it is time that this ‘Good Governance Government’, if it has no money, to resort to the policy of Beg, Borrow but not Steal’ and bring down incinerators to burn garbage. Developed countries use many such ways to dispose their garbage.

If state funds are used for such projects such as garbage disposal, clean water, housing for the poor, the public would have no cause for complaints rather than when funds are used for the splendiferous life of our new rich politicos.The government has many grand visions for the country to spurt ahead and be at the forefront of the developing world. Sagacious political thinking will tell them that their political future will be decided on what they can provide for the people within the next four years, when elections come. People will be moved by the basic needs provided: food, clothing shelter, education and a decent environment to live in.

Luxurious air conditioned offices designed by interior decorators, the best of vehicles that only dollar millionaires can afford and all the comforts and opulence wives may desire with the best of universities abroad for their brood is good for their ego and ‘thatvaya’ but not so good for their return to parliament. Simplicity and austerity is a sure way to success. It’s time to wake up!


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