Category Archives: environmental degradation

The Disappearing Wetlands of Colombo

Jordana Narin  in Daily News, 2 February  2018, with title as “Colombo’s Wetlands at Risk”

There is a breeze in Diyasuru Park that feels distinctly un-Colombo. The air is more lush, the birds more diverse, the grass more green. The park, located near the Parliament building in Thalawathugoda, is 18 hectares of urban wetland. And it’s one of the few the city has left.

Colombo is drying up—literally. Since the 1980s, the city has lost almost 60 percent of its wetland area. Today, on World Wetlands Day, it’s more crucial than ever to consider why all of this matters—and why the fight to save Colombo’s remaining wetlands is one that should involve each and every one of us.

The Jakana bird lives on floating vegetation in wetlands such as water lilies. Picture by Sanjiv De Silva, IWMI.
The Jakana bird lives on floating vegetation in wetlands such as water lilies. Picture by Sanjiv De Silva, IWMI.

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Delhi Today and Yesterday: Entangled Urbanism

Sanjay Srivastava’s Entangled Urbanism

Cover for Entangled Urbanism

Entangled Urbanism: Slum, Gated Community and Shopping Mall in Delhi and Gurgaon

  • A timely study of the urbanization process of Delhi
  • Analyzes a wide range of issues
  • Discusses all aspects of the process of urbanization – from gated communities, to malls, to consumerism

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Imminent Disasters? Exploiting Sri Lanka’s Mineral Resources

Ashley de Vos, in The Island, 16 August 2017, where the heading runs thus: “The exploitation of minerals of Sri Lanka”

If there is an asset, should it be exploited to the fullest in the shortest period of time? The traditional view would be based on very careful and controlled use. Today, in the global market place an asset is viewed very differently. As most investors in a business are interested in an ever increasing the bottom line question of eventual sustainability raises questions that need answers. Unfortunately, all exploitation has limits and if profit is the only criteria, whatever the pontification, it cannot and is not sustainable in the long term. It will always be a short term solution, to what could be a long term disaster.

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The Jaffna Peninsula Plus: Fundamental Water Issues

Jeevan Thiagarajah,  courtesy of Daily News, 31 July 2017, where the essay is entitled “Jaffna: Dead or alive”

Many things can be inferred in the title today! The intent is to say Jaffna can become an arid dessert if it runs out of water. The Jaffna Peninsula is unique in geology and aquifer conditions. The limestone is an important aquifer, and together with thin sand layers form an extensive cover providing a source of drinking water and irrigation across the Jaffna Peninsula. The suitability of water for any use is determined not only by the total amount of salt present in the water but also by the type of salt that is present.

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Iranganie Serasinghe: Actress and Environmental Activist

Prasanna Cooray, in Island, 18 June 2017,  with the title “Irangani: Mother figure of Sinhala Cinema and Environmental Activism””

Irangani Serasinghe needs no introduction in this country. She is convinced that as for the destruction of our environment politicians have to take the blame. She says, “The worst ar e the politicians. We have to protect our trees and environment mostly from them”, said Irangani Serasinghe. At 90, yet agile and full of vigour, she has fought man a battle, tooth and nail, on the environment front for decades.

On June 3, she chaired the seminar under the theme, “Destruction of central hills – Death of future of the country” held at Mahaweli Center in Colombo where I was one of the speakers. The seminar brought to light the environmental destruction and misery brought to the lives of the people in Welimada plain by the ongoing Uma Oya multipurpose development project. There she told me she would be 90 in a few days. On June 9 Irangani celebrated her 90th birthday. Continue reading

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Predator-Proof Fence to create Huge Wild Life Sanctuary

Paige Taylor  in The Australian, 13 June 2017,   where the title is “Predator-proof ploy foils feral-fed catastrophe”

Work has begun northwest of Alice Springs on the world’s largest predator-proof animal enclosure. It has come to this for our endangered species. The 185km electrified fence will separate feral cats from the marsupials they have pushed to the edge of extinction.  The non-profit Australian Wildlife Conservancy is buying vast tracts of the bush and fencing out feral cats that kill between five and seven animals each night.

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Manmade Garbage Landslide at Meethotamulla: A World First?

Iromi Perera and Vijay Nagaraj, in http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/52489 where the title runs “Meethotamulla: The tragedy of the poor victimised in the name of development”

On the afternoon of 14 April tonnes of garbage at Meethotamulla, one of the biggest dumping sites just outside Colombo, came crashing down destroying scores of homes. At the time of writing, the death toll was reportedly 26 but was expected to rise. There have been serious allegations made by the affected community that rescue efforts did not even begin in earnest till very late into the night owing to a lack of direction and the failure of authorities. According to Nuwan Bopage, a lawyer representing residents of Meethotamulla, people were left using shovels to get to those buried. “During that whole time we could hear the dying breath of those buried under the garbage,” he said at a media conference the next day.

Meethotamulla Rahula Vidyalaya

Behind the tragedy is a litany of broken promises—including an assurance by the Prime Minister himself in 2015 of solving the problem within six months—and protests being met with tear gas or batons. A group of residents from Meethotamulla approached the Supreme Court in 2014 seeking to stop the dumping of garbage.
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