‘Federal’ Marriages and Water Wars
Posted on August 11th, 2013

By: C. Wijeyawickrama (Originally posted on August 5th, 2009)

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-There is no state without a Tamil ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” but there is no state for the Tamils.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ World Confederation of Tamils (www.tamilnation.org)

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”India is a MythƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢:

The merchants of federal formula are reluctant to compare ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ arrangements with marriage contracts. In the recent past we saw this behavior first hand in an exchange of letters with one Kandappa from Jaffna under the titles ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Federalism and MarriageƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Federalism and SexismƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (Island, Jan 11, 2006). The comparison exposes defects in the Federal method. This is why Mr. Anandasangaree has become the Ambedkar of Sri Lanka preaching to JVP that the Indian model is not really a Federal but a mixture of Federal and Unitary.

Perhaps Mr. Anandasangaree may not be aware of the fact that ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-India is a mythƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ is a protest movement alive amongst groups of Tamils in India who call India, Hindia or Hindistan. One would wonder why recently Mr. Anandasangaree, himself had to ask in vain from Karunanidhi to not violate the federal decision to train 200 police officers in Tamilnadu if his Indian model is that not Federal but mixture of Federal & Unitary! (Island, Aug 10, 2006). The Dravidasthan movement that began in South India in the 1930s is buried and not dead as evidenced by the arrest of MDMKƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Manimaran under the Indian Penal Code section 153(b) and the arrest warrant open for Kandanbam of DPI (Dalit Panther of India).

Marvil Aru Anicut:

The blockage and bombing of the Marvil Aru-Verugal Aru area have proven to the world that the theory of a joint Federal and Unitary is also a myth like the hoax of a traditional Tamil homeland in the Eastern Province. The Malaria mosquito simply did not allow it as pointed out by the geography professor G. H. Peiris. If a party failed for a divorce (from Unitary partner) despite a generous court order (CFA, 2002), the greatest giveaway in history according to the Englishman Paul Harris) and a humiliating surrender by the other party (I-SL Agreement, 1987), tried to use water supply to make the marriage under one roof unpleasant, what is in store when the parties were to be allowed to move into their own separate houses?

Water Wars in India:

Mr. Kandappa in January 2006 accepted the fact that Tamilnad has had water wars with two of its neighbors, Kerala and Karnataka, under the Indian model. India had water wars with Pakistan and is bound to have water wars with Pakistan in Kashmir. India has water disputes with Bangladesh-a river delta that became a separate country- where the big brotherƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s decisions makes Bangladesh either flooded with excess water or starved of water during the dry season.

I raised the issue of water wars between Tamilnad and its neighbors in order to show that federalism is not the solution to help Sri Lankan Tamils to achieve their ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-aspirationsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (mentioned by the late Kumar Pannambalam) or to handle the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-legitimate Tamil grievancesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (emphasized recently by US governmental officers Jeff Lunstead, Richard Boucher and Nicholas Burns, and Indian leaders Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi). Rivers do not respect political boundaries.

Hence there were water disputes between countries (USA-Canada, India-Pakistan, India-Bangladesh, Egypt-Sudan) and between states under ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ marriages. Water (Jordan River) is a hidden time bomb in the Middle East conflict.

Water and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ marriage Contracts:

Water as an essential human need becomes a political weapon because it operates at the interface of time and space. Water at the wrong place in the wrong time becomes flood and disaster. Water not at the right place in the right time creates drought and famine. Too much water or too little water at a given place and in a given time can be manipulated for political purposes if the two parties to a federal marriage happen to be upstream versus downstream water users.

Water is a good example to show the value of the epithet, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-You cannot legislate against geography.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ Water flows from high to low ground irrespective of political boundaries. Actually, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ arrangements are also examples of acceptance of this epithet because it allows diverse regions to become stronger by the human political mechanism of federation or confederation. EU is the best example in this regard, to treat the European landmass as one political unit.

The Federal arrangement is done by either with two lists or three lists. Two lists give federal powers and state powers. Three lists is the Indian method with of an additional concurrent list. With regard to water use this is a recipe for disaster.

In a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Flat WorldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of globalization, constitutions, schedules, court cases, water compacts or arbitrations are instruments designed to handle water disputes. Lawyers and constitutional book experts thrive under this arrangement, but in the end people will die at the water front. USA has followed this method.

Yet even American and Canadian fishermen came close to shooting at each other at sea several times in the past on fishing rights. The two states, Oklahoma and Texas had river water disputes because the Red River between the two shifts horizontally over the years. The Colorado River water use allocation is an issue for all the states sharing it. The mighty Colorado ends as a sludge-toxic canal when it reaches the border between USA and Mexico.

Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Eelam Boundary:

Whether, Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ formula merchants could prevent future Marvil Arus by a thick document regulating water rights and water allocations is a life and death issue for all Sri Lankans. Can the national list, the state list and the concurrent list prepared by a group of Colombo, lawyers prevent an aggressive marriage partner who had a bitter divorce fight from demanding more water when a drought prevents releasing more water down stream?

Will there be border clashes or filing cases at the World Court? Is compromise possible? Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s situation is unique for four reasons.

(1) Sri Lanka is the first country on earth to go from a single country to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ country.

(2) Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s physical geography and the Eelam boundary do not match at all.

(3) There is an Indian Tamil population in the upstream river catchment areas in the central mountain

regions where a Malayanadu movement is in dormant.

(4) ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-EelamƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ is a world Tamil dream and not just a Sri Lanka Tamil or Tamilnad Tamil dream.

The Eelam boundary (red lines on maps) on the Tamil Eealm map

(www.tamilcanadian.com) is an attempt to legislate against geography and therefore, even if the two partners to the marriage have new saintly qualities and decided to erase from their mind previous murderous divorce battles, water wars would become inevitable. The panacea presented by the death merchants of the Indian federal formula would not help due to reasons of:

1. Political Geography:

Sri Lanka will be the only island state divided to create a federal marriage. In all the other Federal marriages (USA, India, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland) it was parties already divided who became united under one roof by ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ arrangement.

Whether, the Federal Sri Lanka will have two partners, eight partners or the Eastern Province will have separate Sinhala or Muslim (Oluvil declaration) units will further complicate water allocation issues.


2. Physical Geography:

Sri Lanka is a pear-shaped island with a central mountain mass surrounded by a hilly landscape region and coastal plains. Because of this physical geography rivers are short and radiate from the central lands. The only river that could be called a river system is the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Mahaweli GangaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚.

3. Cultural Geography:

With an Indian Tamil population living in the central mountain region where the upstream water catchment areas are located, any agitation or collaboration between Northern Tamils, Tamilnad Tamils or World Tamils and the Indian Tamils (Malayanadu) could disrupt water supply especially to the Mahaweli Ganga Scheme by blocking the headwaters during drought.

4. Climatology:

The island has a weather and climate based on the seasonal Monsoon winds. South-West Monsoons come with a heavy moisture content dropping it on a smaller area.

North-Eeast Monsoons on the other hand come from the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Bay of BengalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ with less moisture and spreads over a vast area. This creates two basic water regiments for the Wet Zone and the Dry Zone. Yet, even the Wet Zone is not free of droughts.

With one of the islandƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Arid Zones in the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-EelamƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ area (Mannar region), the demand for more water for that region could become an issue in the future.

5. Geology:

The availability of groundwater resources is influenced by geological history and the demand for surface water is affected by this factor. For example, since Jaffna is a limestone (Karst) region, plans to convert the Jaffna lagoon into a fresh water lake could demand diversion of more water from the Mahaweli Scheme to the Kanakarayan Aru (K on Map 2).

6. Historical Geography:

Eealm boundary is based on two Provincial boundaries arbitrarily created by the colonial ruler for administrative control. The continuation of these boundaries will become more problematic when two fighting sides become F marriage partners. The two nation theory was a colonial relic applied only in two previous occasions: India and Pakistan and Israel and Palestine. Under the traditional Tamil homelands myth North and East Provinces were temporarily merged with a sinister move to apply the two nation theory to Sri Lanka.

It was not based on geography or democracy but forced on a bankrupt President by a car racing Premier. Since it is a myth hostilities will always remain if it is forced on the Sinhala majority community.

7. Geopolitics:

Tamil minority community in Sri Lanka enjoys more rights and privileges in Sri Lanka than what Tamils enjoy in Tamilnad, India. But the Tamil dream is to have its own sovereign country (see World Tamil Confederation website) on earth. They failed in the Fiji Island and have no chance in Malaysia or even in India and the best target is Sri Lanka.

With this aim, under a federal marriage scheme water conflicts could be used to harass and weaken the Sinhala majority in Sri Lanka.

8. Tamilnadu Politics:

Despite proscription separatist politics in India after the invasion of India by China in 1962, the dream of a separate Tamil country in India is not dead. Tamilnadu politicians act as tamed-moderate leaders due to survival pressure from Delhi and the political rivals waiting for a come back (Rival Tamilnadu chief ministers send each other to jail).The description that Sri Lanka has a majority-minority complex is real.

With 70 millions Tamils at next door and websites and politicians supporting a Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka where can the 10 million Sinhalese go? Water wars are an effective method to keep the pot boiling.

9. Corrupt Colombo Politicians:

Sinhala-Tamil ethnic issue was a creation of about 200 or so Colombo ruling families. During the past 60 years or so they mismanaged the country, converted the English versus Swabasha issue in to a Sinhala-Tamil language conflict, increased the gap between Colombo and the villages and widened the gap between rich living in Colombo, and the poor in the villages.

For the past 20 years they conspired with foreign agents (Liam-Fox agreement?) to divide the country into two so that these families could continue to rule the southern portion from Colombo. These Colombo black whites who accept that they are ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-avalangu kaasisƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ will use future water disputes as beggarƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s wounds to keep common people in bondage. The long boundary line between ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FederalƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ partners will give room for plenty of mini water wars.

The Solution:


The two maps are not aimed at creating fear against devolution. Devolution is different from the merchandize

called Indian federal formula of NGO and INGO agents. Real, as opposed to fake devolution from the concentration of power in the Colombo crowd of politicians (and officers) is what people are waiting for. The political and economic power must be decentralized and given to the people. The PC system and the new election law did not create devolution.

It created a new layer of corrupt politicians. After 1980 Colombo rulers destroyed the VC, TC, UC-based local government system. Rather than fostering a healthy local government system, each UNP and SLFP local govt. minister abused his powers and weakened local democracy and self-governance. The Abhayewardhana Report on Local Government Reforms (1999) provided in detail why the country needed to go back to the pre-1980 system to overcome the mess we are now in, especially the white elephant called PCs.

A. T. Ariyaratne of Sarvodaya proposed a system of national governance structure based on local building blocks in 1988 in his booklet, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-The Power Pyramid and the Dharmic Cycle.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ From time to time Arjuna Hulugalle presents his CIMOGG proposal of devolution at the district level with a base which is similar to the Sarvodaya proposal (Island, July 31, 2006). Actually all these are so similar to what was presented by president of Pakistan Ayub Khan on October 26, 1959 as PakistanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s new constitution. Under it the whole country was divided into very small constituencies of between 800 and 1000 people.

This novel type of constituency was called the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-basic democracy.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ There were 80,000 such elected units as the first tier of the constitutional structure (Pakistan: old country/new nation by Ian Stephens (1964, page 315).

The geographer Madduma Bandara proposed a river basin-based Provincial Division of seven units in 1987 (Chapter 4 in Fifty years of Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Independence: a socio economic review, edited by A.V. de S. Indraratna (1998, p.83). Actually this is the best scientific approach for a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-unitedƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ Sri Lanka where the term united really means unity. The AGA divisions and even the Grama Sevaka divisions should ideally be based on River-Oya-Ela basins. This way we will not have a mind-boggling number of 14,000 GS divisions in the island.

The Englishman Paul Harris recently identified the Muslim factor as a future problem for Sri Lanka. He says that the al Qaeda-Taliban groups will sooner or later become actively involved in helping the Muslims in the Eastern Province to meet Tamil Terror with Islam terror. The geographer G. H. Peiris in his new book, Sri Lanka: challenges of the new millennium (2006?), speaks of the growing unrest in the upcountry area among the school going Indian Tamil youth.

Rather than a monster of a merged North-East Provinces, Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s home grown solution must be a District-level devolution where elected members of the local government units in a district creates the DC with super powers given them to operate as an almost autonomous administrative units. Such DCs should be allowed to merge for resource use purposes.

Thus Tamils can have ten or more DCs where they can achieve their aspirations. For example, in their DCs they can decide not to declare Vesak as a public holiday which PrabakaranƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s younger brother told this writer when they were students in Canada in 1979.

Since the early 1960s Sri Lanka faced a gradual erosion of its structural democracy (i.e., abolition of the Senate, violation of the separation of powers doctrine, disregard for the rule of law and even lying at the question time in the parliament, appointing politicians as SC judges). Since 1978, in addition to structural erosion there was a death of territorial democracy of the worst possible type. The new electoral laws removed the voter from the elected and prevented honest, educated and dedicated local people contesting elections.

We ended up with a parliament which is a disgrace to representative democracy in the world. While people were denied the right to select what they like, they have been forced to select from the list the party leaders decide from Colombo after ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-job interviews.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ Then the number of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Grama SevakasƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ increased from 4,000 to 14,000 in the 1990s. Politicians use them to spy on people and not to serve people.

It is crucial that the territorial democracy restored as soon as possible and the structural democracy revived by abolishing the 1978 ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-bahubootha viyavastava.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ The Eelam map is the wrong way to handle this overhauling as it is an attempt to cure a cancer by feeding it. The Vadi Bana preached by NGO peace activists such as the Christian-born Jehan Perera will have no use (Divaina, August 7, 2006).

(The writer taught water resources geography and political geography at Kent State University, Ohio, USA)

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