அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு

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அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு.

'' நீதி, மதம், அரசியல், சமுதாயம் சம்பந்தமான எல்லாவித சொல்லடுக்குகளுக்கும் பிரகடனங்களுக்கும் வாக்குறுதிகளுக்கும் பின்னே ஏதாவதொரு வர்க்கத்தின் நலன்கள் ஒழிந்து நிற்பதைக் கண்டுகொள்ள மக்கள் தெரிந்துகொள்ளாத வரையில் அரசியலில் அவர்கள் முட்டாள்தனமான ஏமாளிகளாகவும் தம்மைத் தாமே ஏமாற்றிக்கொள்வோராகவும் இருந்தனர், எப்போதும் இருப்பார்கள். பழைய ஏற்பாடு ஒவ்வொன்றும் எவ்வளவுதான் காட்டு மிராண்டித் தனமாகவும் அழுகிப் போனதாகவும் தோன்றிய போதிலும் ஏதாவது ஒரு ஆளும்வர்க்கத்தின் சக்தியைக் கொண்டு அது நிலைநிறுத்தப்பட்டு வருகிறது. சீர்திருத்தங்கள், அபிவிருத்திகள் ஆகியவற்றின் ஆதரவாளர்கள் இதை உணராத வரையில் பழைய அமைப்பு முறையின் பாதுகாவலர்கள் அவர்களை என்றென்றும் முட்டாளாக்கிக் கொண்டே இருப்பார்கள். இந்த வர்க்கங்களின் எதிர்ப்பைத் தகர்த்து ஒழிப்பதற்கு ஒரே ஒரு வழிதான் உண்டு. அது என்ன?

பழைமையைத் துடைத்தெறியவும் புதுமையைச் சிருக்ஷ்டிக்கவும் திறன் பெற்றவையும், சமுதாயத்தில் தாங்கள் வகிக்கும் ஸ்தானத்தின் காரணமாக அப்படிச் சிருக்ஷ்டித்துக் தீரவேண்டிய நிர்ப்பந்தத்திலிருக்கிறவையுமான சக்திகளை, நம்மைச் சூழ்ந்துள்ள இதே சமுதாயத்துக்குள்ளேயே நாம் கண்டுபிடித்து, அந்தச் சக்திகளுக்கு ஞானமூட்டிப் போராட்டத்துக்கு ஸ்தாபன ரீதியாகத் திரட்ட வேண்டும். இது ஒன்றேதான் வழி. ''

மாமேதை தோழர் லெனின்
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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Meethotamulla - `குப்பை மலை` கவிழ்ந்து எண்ணற்ற ஏழைக் குடியிருப்பாளர்கள் நரபலி!



All those who died, died in vain – The Meethotamulla disaster
Apr 19, 2017  Sri Lanka Guardian Columnists, Feature, Mass L. Usuf, Sri Lanka
Many of people living there were literally buried under the decomposed, rotten and toxic garbage mountain that broke loose. It was unbearable to hear the heart-rending wail of the bereaved family members some of those who had lost their little children.
by Mass L. Usuf

( April 19, 2017, London, Sri Lanka Guardian)


For the Sinhalese and Tamils, it was their New Year day. A day of joy and celebration. While around the country pots were overflowing with boiling milk ushering in the New Year, in Meethotamulla the saga was somewhat different. Many of people living there were literally buried under the decomposed, rotten and toxic garbage mountain that broke loose. It was unbearable to hear the heart-rending wail of the bereaved family members some of those who had lost their little children.



According to the Central Environment Authority about 7,500 tonnes of waste is produced in the country every day. Residents say that nearly 1,000 tonnes of garbage is added daily each day at Meethotamulla. The height of the garbage dump has now reached more than 300 meters. These people did not go to where the garbage was. The garbage was brought to where these people were living. A dereliction of the government’s duty and a gross violation of the basic constitutional rights of the people affected.

These people have been living here for several decades in inhuman conditions breathing in foul odour every day. The feeling is inexplicable. It stinks. They have been in this unimaginable and horrendous state all these years. Most of them have developed various medical complications. Where are the human rights activists? Where are the Politicians? Where are the environmentalists? Someone quipped, “The environmentalists are more concerned about fauna and flora than human beings”. The planned alternative landfill site at Aruwakkalu, North of Puttalam, about 170 kilometres away from Colombo did not take off the ground because they were unhappy. They said that the site is within the one mile buffer zone of the Wilpattu National Park.



Mr. President

Mr. President, you are also the Minister of Environmental Affairs. Around the second half of 2015, you spoke about having a National Strategy for environmental conservation and identified areas like deforestation, environmental damage, environmental degradation, natural resource damage and soil erosion. What you seem to have failed in doing is to identify the priorities in your list in the National Strategy? The garbage dump is not an issue that came up after you assumed power. It was very much there while you were with the previous government. Why did you not accelerate the implementation of your plan?

Way back in 2013 during the Rajapaksa regime some houses were damaged when the dump collapsed. Former MP Duminda Silva held a discussion at the Kolonnawa Municipal Council on issues arising from the garbage dump at Meethotamulla and promised to provide a solution to the problem within a month. He never did that.

Musali

As a citizen, I humbly ask you on behalf of the many who have been silenced by death, have you mismanaged your priorities? If your National Strategy is a long-term plan what have you envisioned for the short and medium term? On one stroke of the pen you deprived thousands of IDPs from returning to their ancestral homes and livelihood in Musali and adjacent areas. This was done in a mighty hurry.

In Meethotamulla while death and destruction was staring on the face of the departed souls and their bewildered kith and kin, you apparently did not have enough ink in that same pen to issue an order regarding the Garbage Dump issue. Or, was it a case where there was not enough pressure by the vested interest of the pseudo environmentalists and the self-serving politicians to look into the garbage problem?



Mr. Prime Minister

Mr. Prime Minister in February 2015, when you met with ‘The Peoples Movement Against the Kollonnawa Garbage Dump’, it is alleged that you had promised a solution within 6 months. Is not your six months too long, Mr. Prime Minister?

Which Law?

“Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faizer Mustapha yesterday warned that stern legal actions would be taken against those who failed to segregate garbage in order to dispose it properly from November 01”. “In terms of section 272 (5) of MCO, the penalties for disregarding by-laws on garbage disposal are included a sum not exceeding Rs. 1000 for the first time offenders and the second or third time offenders will be fined a sum not exceeding Rs. 2000. Offenders who repeatedly disobey the by-laws will be fined a sum not exceeding Rs. 250.00 each time”.

(The Island, October 29, 2016).



Other pieces of legislations threatening action are Section 261 of the Penal Code on public nuisance, the National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980, disposing garbage which can harm the environment is illegal. In the same Act Section 23, if the garbage disposed in a public or private place is harmful to the health of people, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) holds power to take appropriate measures.

Mr. Minister which law is applicable to the following :

1. To the incident that happened in Meethotamulla?
2. The dereliction of duty on the part of all those who were
 responsible?
3. The failure to avert a disaster which was imminent and foreseeable?

“The Minister of Mega polis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka: He has said his ministry has already gone through a tender procedure and shortlisted seven projects for the management of solid waste at Meethotamulla (mountain) garbage dump, long an ecological problem and eyesore in Colombo”. (Sunday Times, July 24, 2016).

Mr. Minister, this is April 2017 what have you been doing for the past eight months? Did not you know that this was a ticking time bomb, the consequences of which would be calamitous?




What Do You Call It As?

Earlier this month the residents living near the Meethotamulla garbage dumping site took to the streets demanding an end to the torturous life they were subjected to. I do not know
what to call it as – hypocrisy, irony, political gimmick or sincerity – when United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian S. M. Marikkar led the demonstration. He is part of the machinery. He represents these people. He is supposed to find solutions and not to demonstrate. Did he demonstrate because he cannot garner enough support with the powers that be? Then, dear Member, I suggest you resign. If you call yourself the servant of the public. Of what use is it, in continuing to be part of the government which does not help you to solve the problems of the people who trusted you and voted for you to represent them?

Can any of these institutions and the Ministers in charge of these – the CMC, Urban Development Authority (UDA), Western Province Waste Management Authority (WPWMA), Central
Environmental Authority (CEA), Kolonnawa Municipal Council, other local authorities plead ignorance of the garbage problem?

The people are disappointed and deeply saddened at the prevailing state of affairs. Those of you who are responsible will carry the guilt if you have some semblance of morals in you.All those who died, died in vain.
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In 2012, I visited Madampitiya to help with research for a friend’s thesis. The subject was the spread of disease in this area, situated close to a garbage dump.

The tiny lanes in between the houses were muddy and often, filled with filthy water. This happened because when it rained (as it had been shortly before we visited) the streets would flood, and spillover from the dump would wash into the streets and sometimes, people’s houses. In fact, you would often need to step off the road and balance precariously on the side of the concrete drains that had been built, and which clearly did not do enough to address the problem.

I vividly remember one of the families I interviewed, a knife grinder who took me into his house to show me his 8-year-old daughter’s hands. They were red and peeling – she had scratched her palms raw because of the mosquitoes. She was also home sick from school. The family couldn’t afford electricity – instead using kerosene lamps at night.

Not all the families I met were of such straitened circumstances. Others had homes that they had carefully built, saving up money, over years. One thing they all had in common was their distaste for the nearby dump. It was clearly visible from most of the lanes – swarming with flies, with the occasional pig rooting through the garbage. Even if you couldn’t see it, you could certainly smell it. The people I interviewed said the stench was particularly unbearable when it was hot, forcing many to close their windows and doors to avoid the smell.

Worse, respiratory diseases and skin rashes were quite common thanks to the proximity of the dump.
Over half of the people I met that day said they wanted to move somewhere else. Yet, there were also many who said adamantly that they wanted to stay. “This is our home. We’ve been living here for years,” they said.

All they wanted was for the garbage issue and all the associated problems it created to be resolved.
The Meethotamulla dump is located just 15 minutes away from Madampitiya. A former colleague who visited Meethotamulla in 2010 found stories very similar to those I had experienced, just 5 kilometres away. Children resigned to the smell. Families whose gardens were filled with black water. Drains filled with stagnant water. Disease.

At the time, around 800 tonnes of garbage was being dumped every day in Meethotamulla in Kolonnawa. While that is a large number on paper, it is another thing entirely to see it, as
I did. The mountain of compacted garbage was piled so high that standing atop it commanded a view of the surrounding area. Tractors rolled up its banks to deposit more garbage as I watched. In the distance were two buildings – a CMC official who was showing me around explained that this was a treatment centre and composting facility, built to try and alleviate the garbage problem. The buildings looked very small and far away from the top of the dump, where we were standing, and as the official pointed out, clearly more needed to be done to alleviate this problem.


The CMC Commissioner in 2010, Badrani Jayawardena said that the CMC took care to spread a layer of soil over the garbage before compacting it down, so that it was sealed. She added that the reason flooding occurred at Meethotamulla was not due to the garbage, but because it was a marshy area.
She also said that the dump would only close once its lifetime had been used up, and that dumping would only continue until 2013.

It’s 2017, and the mountain of garbage at Meethotamulla just collapsed, with the death toll now standing at 16 people.



As recently as March this year, residents were agitating against the dump. Officials meanwhile, have continually said they are working towards a long-term solution, with the help of foreign experts.
The issue of garbage disposal, and how to solve it, is complex and has long been debated. In 2015, there was a plan to transfer the compacted garbage at Meethotamulla to Puttalam, which came to a temporary standstill after environmentalists raised protests, as the new site at Arawakkalu fell within the Wilpattu buffer zone. The project was restarted at a different site, but with plans to allow the Meethotamulla dump to decompose. Other plans have included simply shifting the garbage to other areas such as Ja-Ela.

As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Harsha de Silva pointed out, agreements were only signed to attempt to deal with this issue ‘a few weeks’ ago, despite this having been brought to the state’s attention numerous times in the past few years.


It is notable too that Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has not commented beyond an initial update on his official Facebook page, on the situation in Meethotamulla. In fact, de Silva gave a much more in-depth update on the problem on his Facebook page – despite disaster response not falling under his purview.

The Colombo Municipal Council meanwhile has promised to hold more discussions, including with the Minister of Disaster Management.Several politicians have made promises to resolve the issues faced by the residents of Meethotamulla – Duminda Silva, who promised to resolve the issues there ‘within a month,’ and Hirunika Premachandra, who after polling the highest number of preferential votes at the Western Provincial Council elections said she would ‘set the Kolonnawa electorate on the
right path’ and promised to work for their benefit, including solving the garbage disposal issue. President Sirisena himself promised to provide garbage disposal solutions via a proper
national strategy in 2015.


At the time, he promised this would materialise ‘within 3 years.’

These plans and discussions have led to little in the way of action at reducing the size of the dump in Meethotamulla, with the loss of lives as a result. While it is admirable that so many have come forward to volunteer, to post updates on what is needed, or simply to donate, the fact remains that this senseless tragedy could, and should, have been prevented.

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