Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Buddha Weeps (We may kite but we also care).

Sri Lanka is an epic land. It has the highest rates of biological endemism in the world inspite of it being a fairly small place. We also have an epic history in terms of conservation.
Sri Lanka's heritage of wildlife protection runs as far back as 2200 years. The first wildlife sanctuary in world at Mihintale in Anuradhapura was was created by the King Devanam Piya Tissa following the arrival of Buddhism to the island from northern India.
Throughout the history of the nation, all animals & plants in the sanctuaries of the island were left undisturbed in line of the basic right to life of all beings & conservation ethics of Buddhism, the taking of life being anathema to Buddhist beliefs. Records of the wildlife protection are found even in the great Sinhalese chronicle of Mahawamsa.
Fast forward to present day Sri Lanka. Our leaders seem to have forgotten the rich heritage of our ancestors who took great steps to preserve flora and fauna. While I cycle on the road from Mount Lavinia to Battaramulla, I was shocked and almost in tears to see a sanctuary being bulldozed right in front of my eyes. In the background in the Parliment of Sri Lanka - where decisions are being made on the future of the this country.
I observed how it seems that this last bit of natural forest in urban Sri Lanka is being cleared to build a road to the parliment. It is not like there is no road already. There is a 4 lane road with zero traffic congestion and there these people go build another road to attend to parliment meetings!
Dear Sirs, do you know know the value of environment in this day and age? Do you not know the urgency in ensuring that the last bit of wetlands need to be protected? Do you not know that the thousand of tourist who come here come not for gambling or cricket but for the natural beauty this country has to offer? This is our core competence, something that no other country can replicate - and yet we rape the forest and build roads through them!
If the Buddha was here today, he would be weeping. Weeping because of the damage you are doing. Airport near National Parks? Roads through World Heritage Sites like Sinharaja? A pavillion and car park at Main Point in Arugam Bay? This is not the way forward. In fact these are huge steps in the opposite direction. Natural resources, once gone, is gone forever.
The Buddha, Jesus and countless others lived in nature, they understood the value of it. Go out in the open. Camp on the Beach and Jungle, experience nature not in the comfort of a SUV or fancy hotel. You will never understand it otherwise.
You will be accountable in this life or the next. Make decisions wisely. Time is not on our side. Nature cannot thrive and support us if we do not respect it.
I continued to cycle and saw how the Sri Jayawardanepura & Baddegana Sanctuaries are becoming desserts full of dust. I looked into my favourite crytal clear creek to see the Giant Snakeheads (Lulas). The water was brown, they I presume all dead due to the road work that is going on. You killed them and countless other animals and plants. Sad.
Its not too late to get your act together. I leave you with the words of our Great Leaders;
'O Great King, the birds of the air & the beasts have an equal right to live & move about in any part of this land as thou. The lands belongs to the peoples & all other beings & thou art only the guardian of it" said Arahat Mahinda to Kind Devanam Piya Tissa, the famous "Deer Hunter" (307-266 BC)

What the area cleared looked like. Lush.

Dont tell me its not protected, there are signs all over.
Dear President you and your Government declared it in 2010.

Raping the last remaining natural resources of urban Sri Lanka.
The parliment stand in the backgroud. I wonder who made this decision.

Lush on one side. Dessolate on the other.
My favourite creek all gone brown and dirty.
Signage reading that is a protected area and the bulldozes just
work clearing the flora and fauna


Anonymous said...

You are so true .... Affraid to never recognize paradise when i will have the chance to come back. I wish that the leaders in your country forget financial benefits or whatever and just try to open their eyes on the beauty of this small island and how to protect it ... Yes tourism is good but no point if they forget to protect what makes people coming .... They should have a look on eco tourism in Costa Rica. So sri lankan people in love with your country, time now for the true fight not against each other but the fight together to protect your precious paradise !

BLUDGE said...

Thanks for this DIl... as this country develops we see BLUDGERS also see that pollution and careless greed is destroying wts natural and beautiful!!!. We are loosing the plot! we dont need to be singapore we are a NATURAL wonder and not a concrete jungle!! lets fight this together!! BLUDGE onn

Merry Wanderer said...

Well said. Business sense: Why ruin your main attraction? Personal sense: Why ruin a gift from above?

Dil, you are a leader and observer. I wish for your success in being heard!