Water and environment
Posted on March 26th, 2018

Sarath Wijesnghe former Ambassador to UAE and Israel 

Water and Environment 

Water and environment are synonymous due to the close connection to each other in the human nature where environment will not flourish without water as the main ingredient of the process of environment thereby it our duty to protect and foster both equally for the existence of the living beings. Today wanton damage and destruction to the environment and water pollution is taking place faster to the extent Sri Lanka has reached the 4th position of the nation fast destroying the forest due to naturel and man named disasters and destructions taking place at an alarming rate in the world and mostly in Sri Lanka. Forest density of 49% in 1020 has come down to 26% in 2005 due to the deforestation at the rate of 8000 HA per year still continuing with the patronage of corrupt politicians with the destruction of water resources and ancestral water canals distributed the water through the agricultural network for irrigation. Fragmentation of lands, unplanned development and construction of houses with no land or vision for political ends, deforestation for illicit timber, illegal CHEN”A cultivation in place of providing land to the poor with a planned development process, sand mining, are some contributory factors for the acceleration of the deforestation and drying of water resources and the ground water which is already polluted with industrial waste. Water is a most precious natural liquid essential for life without which human could not live more than three days, where 50-75% of the body consists of. 91% earth surface is water out of which 97.5 is in the ocean and 2.5 in lakes surface and on the ground for the animal kingdom to survive to indicate how important water is to the human and existence of the living including the animal kingdom.

Water day (22/3/2018) and U N Conventions to protect water

Water day was declared by the United Nations Organization with the Resolution 64/292 dated 28th July 2010 declaring water as a human right when one billion world citizens have no access to water where in some countries 3-4 miles have to walk for a bucket of water mainly in Africa. Same situation exist in some remote areas of Sri Lanka which is little known to the press. Many nations have taken constructive measures in protection of environment, preservation of water resources and provide quality and healthy water at a reasonable price to every consumer. Priority is given to the water management to avoid waste, provide quality water, distribution of water to the citizen for agriculture, industry and other needs with no hindrance and continues supply. UN subsidiary bodies are assisting the developing countries with their limited resources mainly by advice directions and guidance to the respective governments. Water day like the consumer day will be a day the water consumers are guided and advised to the use of waste the most precious consumer item in lfe. Many states celebrate this day with educational and practical celebrations through government and private institutions in the promotion of the value and saving water and use it carefully and intelligently without health hazards and avoid water pollutions and environmental disasters and destructions. Sri Lankan government appear not to initiate such events yet and it is a good idea for the line ministry to initiate such educative events at least from next year!, for the benefit if the citizen.

Environment disasters and deforestation on the rise

It is the duty of the governance and the citizen to initiate and take steps to protect, preserve, and maintain the environment for the benefit of the citizen health and long term safety of the eco system. Unfortunately the illegal soil mining and large scale deforestation with the encouragement and assistance by the corrupt politicians the environmental disasters and deforestation is rampant and in a uncontrolled situation with adverse results on the climatic conditions leading to droughts and natural and manmade disasters.

Water is in abundance in Sri Lanka though there is cry for water in many areas

Water is in abundance in Sri Lanka historically famous for water management and collection on reservoirs for agriculture from the 103 rivers spring from the hill country penetrating all the sides with the network of water used for agriculture aiming at self-sufficiency on paddy and many other crops, which is used for development, irrigation, safe supply for drinking water, hydro power, industries, tourism and various purposes with limited measures of control and management. The ancient mechanism of preserving water in tanks, and small waves in villages, saving and managing water system has amused the modern scientists who tend to follow the ancient methods and structure with the limited funds and assistance from the governance due to lack of funds, vision and the will due to no vision or a visionary for directions.

Cause of the Water disasters and way out for water management  

Waste of water from the supply from the Water and drainage board is 40% and the other waste on overflowing and flowing to the sea is not calculated. Though the rainfall is of highest density with frequent monsoons and wet weather, no arrangements have been made to preserve as has been practices by the ancestors, made large and small tanks countrywide with the network of water drainage for agriculture with the declaration/motto of King Parakramabahue” that not a drop of water should be allowed to reach sea unused” making Sri Lanka the granary of the east. In Sri Lanka what is lacking is proper waste management and it is useful for us to use the methods adopted by countries with less water in their development process managing the available resources to elevate themselves high in the world community. Let us take Israel, and UAE as examples the countries with least  rain fall deserted nations with limited water yet self-sufficient and leader sin agriculture and industry with waste carefully managed by desalination( water extracted from sea) recycling from sewage, collection of rain water and preserve underground, and manage to use the water careful to the optimum. Sri Lanka has 132 rivers but Israel i/3 of Sri Lanka has only the Galaly River they have exploited to sell water to the neighbors while freely consuming water comfortably. Israelis are world class agriculturists exporting agriculture products and flows to the world using the minim quantity of waste from drip irrigation in which 95% of agriculture is technology! Main source of water is from desalination for which they have invested billions 60 years ago with a vision led by a visionary now followed by dedicated leaders and scientists working round the clock with modern innovations on water related experiments and conservation of water resources. Israel are parties to the international conventions and entered into friendly agreement  to share water with the neighbor” Jorden” setting aside the enmities for the sake of water for the citizen of both counters. UAE and Israel though countries with differences the Israel technology is used in UAE and many Middle Eastern countries on desalination n and purification of water and matters we have to take  into serious consideration. Therefore only way out for us is to seek assistance from friendly nations for technical assistance on proper and scientific process of water management, with stringent rules to preserve the environment from the politicians who are mainly responsible for the destruction! (Reading materials –water lifeline next to air 20/10/2013 – Lanka web-Is drinking water from Kelani” river safe Lanka Guardian 21/8/2015 – author could be contacted on [email protected])

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