When yahapalanaya rots and stinks
(A soft punch on MR’s face and hard blow on Yahapalanaya’s head. A lot of “terrorist things” about MR has been left unsaid deliberately in this editorial. The paper’s hypocrisy is showing. -TW)
Those who voted for the incumbent administration may not have expected others’ garbage to be shoved down their throats––so to speak––in this savage manner. They were promised the sun and the moon, but, today, they have their villages being turned into stinking rubbish dumps. Their protests are violently crushed. The much-touted yahapalanaya has become kunu (rubbish) palanaya!
The Rajapaksa government had villagers who protested against a factory polluting their wells attacked by the army in Rathupaswala. The present government, which exploited such incidents to capture power, has taken a leaf out of its predecessor’s book in tackling public protests. The yahapalana leaders are apparently busy setting up a police state.
Most of those currently at the levers of power have a history of groveling before terrorists in spite of the latter’s heinous crimes against civilians such as massacres and destroying public property worth billions of US dollars, including more than a dozen state-owned aircraft. The Sri Lanka Air Force choppers were placed at the disposal of senior terrorist leader, who were also treated to BBQ dinners at the very airport they had attacked. The terrorists enjoyed the freedom to urinate and defecate near army bunkers to humiliate soldiers in the name of a ceasefire and ‘peace talks’. But, today, the yahapalana leaders who had their tails between their trembling legs then are resorting to force to disperse civilians who stage non-violent protests against garbage dumping. They are treating civilians like terrorists.
Cartoon from Ceylon Today
President Maithripala Sirisena, as the Minister of Environment, cannot be unaware that Muthurajawela is a green lung and bird sanctuary, but he has no qualms about allowing garbage to be dumped there. Religious dignitaries and community leaders have sought to knock some sense into the government leaders, but in vain. The same goes for Karadiyana, a village, located on the banks of the picturesque Bolgoda Lake. The huge landfill there cannot take anymore rubbish and people are right in demanding that the government refrain from making an already bad problem worse.
The yahapalana leaders never hesitate to order police to attack protesters who demand redress to their legitimate grievances. As for shifting Colombo’s waste to suburbs, Justitia has got stuck neck deep in a garbage heap; the government has sought to justify its strong-arm tactics with the help of a court order. A wrong does not become a right simply because politicians get it sanctioned judicially. The 18th Amendment also passed muster with the apex court, didn’t it? But, it dealt a severe blow to the democratic rights of the people and was thankfully done away with by the present government. Hence, there is no way the self-appointed champions of good governance can justify the use of court orders to crush protests against garbage dumping! They have only made a mockery of their much-advertised commitment to yahapalanaya.
Some so-called local officials have made a shameless attempt to make light of a severe warning a group of Japanese experts has issued as regards the high methane levels in the Meethotamulla garbage dump. The government had better take all precautions to ensure the safety of the military personnel at Meethotamulla without exposing them to danger in peacetime. There is the possibility of the rubbish heap exploding due to methane, according to the Japanese experts. Their warning must be heeded.
The question is what the thousands of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) workers, paid with public funds, are doing while the military personnel are risking their lives at Meethotamulla. The CMC pays private companies for garbage disposal while the politically appointed municipal labourers idle.
The government has, through its dependence of police brutality to crush anti-garbage dumping protests, demonstrated that it does not intend to hold local government polls in the foreseeable future. Else, it would not have antagonised people in this manner. However, it must stop using force to crush people’s protests; it has to invite protesters, who are decent men and women, explain to them how it intends to solve the garbage problem and obtain their consent for temporary measures to keep the city and its suburbs clean. There is no other way.