Officials’ dedication wasted due to government’s impotency

Officials’ dedication wasted due to government’s impotency

Bimal

June 6, 2017

“It should be said that disaster management institutions of the government are listless. There is no administrative leadership. Despite officials work hard, no proper management could be seen in these institutions. They are at a very run down stage. People are severely distressed. Now, it is necessary to go beyond providing emergency relief services and plan to prevent disasters occurring in the future. The President has appointed disaster agents for districts. We have a doubt where some of the ministers were appointed to create disasters rather than prevent them. The minister who mediated in Kegalle District has said after the meeting the reserve of 1500 acres that was spared should be distributed among farmers to cultivate minor export crops. As such, these politicians cannot prevent disasters. The government, despite talking about protecting environment, attempts to clear a large number of acres in Bibile to plant sugarcane. It avoids talking about the destruction of Uma Oya. When it comes to these projects the government forgets environmental destruction,” says the Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP Bimal Rathnayaka.

He said this at a press conference held at the head office of eh JVP at Pelawatta today (4th). The Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP Sunil Handunneththi too participated.

Speaking further Mr. Rathnayaka said, “Eight days have gone by since the flood debacle. The situation confronted by the masses in areas that were flooded and landslides occurred is very pathetic. Destruction in certain areas in Kalutara, Galle, Matara and Rathnapura districts are so severe that they cannot be brought to a normal state even if relief groups work for several more weeks say relief groups and officials. The situation has become worsened due to political pageants of the government that has no plans for rescue work.
The main reason for landslides and flooding is the destruction of central hills. Imperialists had their plantations in hill areas above 3000 to 5000 feet above sea level. The development process in our country was carried out for more than 2000 years protecting the central hills. As springs are the sources of rivers they were protected. The river was dammed, a tank built and cultivations were carried out in the plains. However, white imperialists deforested mountain regions and planted tea. They named plains as reserves. They did not conserve the areas that should have been conserved.

This destruction began after 1815. This destruction cannot be reversed instantly. The rulers who came after the imperialists continued the destruction stared by imperialists. They continued to destroy the hills. Companies destroyed the environment to boost their profits. Even the government going behind companies destroyed the environment. People too in various ways contributed to this destruction. However, the destruction by the government and the companies is larger than the destruction the people could commit. This is why a disaster situation has occurred at present. Water doesn’t easily flow out to the sea from the rivers. The water that spills onto the plains doesn’t subside due to the improper ‘development’ of the rulers. However, there are several measures a government could take to prevent disasters. This is why a ministry of disaster management exists.

Harm to the country and the people from disasters have escalated. Our country was confronted with disasters due to floods in 1956, 1969, 2003, 2005, 2016 and in 2017. However, during the past 1 ½ to 2 decades the disaster situation has escalated. Environmental destruction, irregular development and inability to prevent disasters have aggravated the situation. One of the main reasons is inability to predict correctly. A newspaper had reported that the south west monsoon had taken 91 lives. It is not correct. We all know south west monsoon brings rain. By making correct predictions people could be evacuated from the dangerous zones. Now predicting weather conditions have come down to the level of soothsaying. Predictions could be made using technology. However, a fraud has been committed regarding the Doppler radar that was bought by the country. With this machine the exact rainfall for various areas could have been predicted. However, predicting in our country is at a very low level. It is reported that 212 people have lost their lives and more than 90 have disappeared. Property worth billions has been destroyed. As such, the government should be held responsible for the weakness in predicting.

Also, the government should have a plant to provide disaster relief. Parliamentarians and members of our party not only did relief work with the ‘Red Star’ Relief Service Brigade of the JVP but several MPs also participated in administrative meetings of the government. What we came to know at these meetings is that the government did have neither a long term national plan nor an emergency plan to confront a disaster. Many beautiful plans had been presented also at meetings the President participated. However, the information in such plans was archaic. They had not been updated. There were no plans to prevent disasters. When we were children May and June were ‘Wesak and Poson’ months. Now they have become ‘disaster months. We all know May and June receive a lot of rain. However, the government does not have a plan to prevent disasters that would occur during these months.

It should be said that disaster management institutions of the government are listless. There is no administrative leadership. Despite officials work hard, no proper management could be seen in these institutions. They are at a very run down stage. People are severely distressed. Now, it is necessary to go beyond providing emergency relief services and plan to prevent disasters occurring in the future. The President has appointed disaster agents for districts. We have a doubt where some of the ministers were appointed to create disasters rather than prevent them. The minister who mediated in Kegalle District has said after the meeting the reserve of 1500 acres that was spared should be distributed among farmers to cultivate minor export crops. As such, these politicians cannot prevent disasters. The government, despite talking about protecting environment, attempts to clear a large number of acres in Bibile to plant sugarcane. It avoids talking about the destruction of Uma Oya. When it comes to these projects the government forgets environmental destruction.

Also, it should be mentioned about the reinsurance programme of the government. Due to this reinsurance programs the government should get about Rs. 10,000 million. The government pays only Rs.100,000 when a life is lost. However, according to budget proposals Rs.2.5 million should be paid. As such, we remind the government to pay this amount immediately. Also, there are houses and properties worth more than Rs.2.5 million that have been destroyed. We ask the government to pay a justifiable compensation for the people.

People who were brought down to the bottom have been pushed to the bottom again. The government should mediate immediately to bring their lives to normalcy soon. People do not get a just compensation from certain insurance companies. Hence, the insurance benefit the government should be given to the people.

Also, a national institute should be established and it should be given powers to take action in a disaster. Countries like Japan, the USA, Italy and India have prevented or minimized disasters by establishing such institutes and long term programmes.

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