The ‘10th Province’, a must in the Constitution
Posted on October 1st, 2017


September 29, 2017, 10:04 pm
The proposed constitution has provoked much debate, but mainly within the framework of traditional thinking with emphasis on a few issues like “Unitary and Devolved power, the place of Buddhism, or the executive presidency. In my view, these ignore the most urgent issues that Sri Lanka will face in the next decade, due to climate change as well as the on-going technological tsunami. I discussed how we may harness the digital revolution to our advantage in a previous article (Island, September 2017) entitled “Unit of Devolution – look in cyberspace”. Someone will ask, what has climate change got to do with the Constitution? Here I try to show that it has everything to do with the Constitution, and that it can even be used to strengthen the unitary character of the country that even those who want “maximum devolution” claim to support.

Just after the defeat of the LTTE, in 2009, I presented a talk to a gathering of officials at the Presidential Secretariat, entitled “Four Challenges to Sri Lanka and their Technological Solutions”. One of the challenges was the looming danger of global warming and the rising sea level. The attached map (shown then) roughly indicates how much of the island will go under salt water if nothing is done. It is painfully similar to the map of Sri Lanka under the Tsunami. My suggestion was the building of a raised wall (bund or dyke) along the marine periphery of the Island, which will also have a highway for electric vehicles, communications, security and heliports integrated into it. The region that is likely to go under water (at least its maritime strip) should be declared a 10th province and held under the central government because of its encompassing nature, affecting the whole island. The newly launched port city, the capital city and many other maritime cities and ports will automatically fall under the purview of the 10th Province. It becomes a special province, managed directly by the central government as a special entity. It has to deal with climate change, the unstoppable rise of the sea level, tsunamis and floods, refugees, smuggling and naval operations; all seamlessly falling within the powers of the central government. Furthermore, it will effectively create a geographic “ceinture” ensuring the unitarity of the country at a level unreachable by constitutional tinkering. It will be strong enough to shoulder any province economically.

Someone will say, what about the cost? It is only a “bund” which is some 900 miles long. If this is not done, the so called “traditional homelands” of the Eelamists, all the lives and money spent over three decades to liberate it, as well as other maritime parts of the country will be lost forever. If we delay this, the costs will mount fast, especially as other countries also face the same problems. There is no choice but to deal with the rising sea level. Doing so will create jobs, stimulate economic activity and innovation. The modern Sri Lankans can be proud of an achievement paralleling the genius of their ancient hydraulic civilization.

The needed money can be raised by abandoning stupid projects that are destined to create more urban concrete, asphalt, and polluted spaces. The megalopolis project, already technologically obsolete even before it has begun, should be replaced by a modern eco-friendly re-planning of the whole country.

Given that our fertility rates are down to 2.2 per couple, we are nearly at a stabilized demographic. Let the people stay in their villages, instead of packing them into a megalopolis. Commuting to office is unnecessary as most work can be done online. Video-conferencing and social media usage from playing bridge to courting and flirting are now routine. All that can be made personalized and less “robot-like” since holographic reality is almost at the market place. A developing country has an advantage over already developed countries, as it can leap-frog over several stages, just as Sri Lanka moved to cell-phones, while skipping the laying of land lines.

Commuting to work causes enormous traffic jams, pollution and stress. Costs of maintaining multi-lane highways, office buildings and services are staggering. Cost of having office space in Colombo estimates to over Rs. 20,000 per year per employee! It will cost more, with global warming. The cost of bringing them to office is 70% of the cost of the imports of the petroleum corporation. Health costs due to stress, causing diabetes and hypertension, congestion and crime in cities, etc., are incalculable. The petroleum and diesel fumes, particulate dust and other class-I toxins are more deadly than anything in the list of things to be banned in Ven. Ratana’s so-called “toxin-free nation”.

The planned coal-fired power stations, needed to keep the megalopolis running, and the mounds of garbage that it will generate, add to this megalopolis-pollution that will asphyxiate the whole nation and its ecosystem.

So we abandon the megalopolis and re-structure work, commuting etc., to save money and build the 10th Province that will girdle round the island and protect it from the sea. Of course, this cannot be done overnight – it will take a decade or more. But the moment it is written into the Constitution, defining the scope and nature of the 10th Province, it will at least have a start. All the traditional provinces will loosen a bit of their maritime areas in forming the 10th Province. As the ring road (“Un boulevard peripherique” as Colbert could have told Louis XIV) built on the bund running round the island, with communication towers, heliports for the landing and taking off of drones to deliver goods, etc., are an integral part of the 10th Province, we can expect ready movement of people and cultural integration within it, linking closely with the Port city being built by the Chinese.

Of course, while we are barely thinking of all this, Singapore and even Maldives have already got planners working on such protective structures that will ring their lands and keep the sea away. They are already thinking of heliports for the delivery of goods by drones, so that they don’t need big highways for container trucks serving large warehouse supermarkets. All this can be true in Sri Lanka only if it can at least dare to have the vision and include some of it in its constitution.

I mentioned that the 10th Province will also ensure the unitary integrity of the land by its geographic encirclement of the whole country and administered by the central government. We can also take a cue from Singapore, which has ensured ethnic harmony by requiring that no local region will have a preponderantly mono-ethnic or mono-cultural character. Here we can follow the cry of a dissident Tamil writer speaking for the “depressed” citizens of the North. Sebastian Rasalingam  was a frequent voice about a decade ago. His essay, on the need to “Sinhalise the North and Tamilise the South” (June 29, 2007 Sri Lanka Guardian:  http://www.srilankaguardian. org/2011/06/sinhalization-of- north-and-tamilzation.html ), should be compulsory reading for those grappling with the constitution of Sri Lanka.


Ottawa, Canada

14 Responses to “The ‘10th Province’, a must in the Constitution”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    This is an extremely wise idea in order to safeguard the ownership of the offshore oil deposits and marine mineral resources. The 10th Province will guarantee proper sharing of the maritime wealth as very soon maritime boundaries can be extended for another 300 km.

  2. Senerath Says:

    Surely we need foriegn funds to do it as we are deeply in debt. Do we intend to lease the tenth province to India or or do we intend to lease it to China or to both ? Surely a 1% commision could buy me an island of Maldives.

  3. Senerath Says:

    Is the port city a part of 10th province ? So finally we will be surrounded by foreigners ? Time for the REAL DUTUGEMUNU to rise ?

  4. Dilrook Says:

    I’m afraid this is incomplete without the writer saying what the depth of the province. He knows its length to be 900 miles but what is the depth? It matters. If it is less than around 7km, Colombo City will be subdivided. Many other coastal cities will be subdivided. All governance units and administrative units must be redrawn.

    At the moment mineral deposits in the sea belong to the central government anyway.

    Those who demand political solutions (Tamils and Muslims) don’t support it. The best outcome for the Sinhalese is not to have any provincial councils. So this proposal fails to satisfy the interests of all groups.

  5. Senerath Says:

    Yes, how much need to fill and to what width ? Fill depth obviously depends on “expected future sea level rise” which shouldn’t be too much ( 1-2m ), but it is an estimate based on someone’s research. How reliable is this research ? We can’t use some hypothesis to spend money on such a project.
    Nevertheless expanding the country ( that is assuming we fill the sea to increase area) is a very good thing.
    Problem is funds, as I siad before, we cannot do it by borrowing.
    I don’t understand why these people residing overseas DO NOT UNDERSTAND how much trouble an ordinary man and woman has to undergo due to lack of proper transport. These people visti the country once a year or so and delighted to see new highways but never take public transport. I have done so and I can tell you that other than esablishing proper law and order ( to stop PAGA cultrue) improvement of public transport is extremely crucial. Productivity of the country is drasttically afftected and we cannot compete with the world with this killer TAKARANG bus transport system run by hooligons.

  6. Lionel Says:

    Drones to deliver goods! Are we dreaming? Recently we saw the photos of one of the state schools in Eluwankulama. Building a wall around the country with helipads! If someone in Eluwankulama or Vanathavillu area read this article, I can think of what comes to his mind “munta nam pissu”.

  7. aloy Says:

    I am sure the writer has taken on board the thinking of an average person in a developed country like Canada. When we watch BBC, CNN etc we see similar futuristic ideas of smart people. There are many tech savvy and smart people in SL who venture out and keep abreast with these developments, but our average folks are no better than those in Eluwankulama. AT a time when Indians are planning how to remotely control vehicles on the surface of moon or Mars some of our TV channels (like Sirasa) are promoting production of toys by our airforce personnel. Such is the thinking of some of our educated people as well.
    This is thinking far ahead probably like that of Arthur C. Clark in his ‘Space Odyssey’.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    We thank Dr Dharmawardena for his futuristic ideas, especially to combat rising sea levels and how to keep the State Unitary and in Harmony.
    We can anticipate some 15 ft rise in sea levels due to Climate Change, while Sri Lankans go on squabbling about this and that.

    More suggestions :
    Priests of all religions should examine these ideas and form Think Tanks and put forward ideas on how to bring them to fruition before it is too late.

    Essay competitions ought to be held in all schools under the same topic on HOW TO SAVE SRI LANKA FOR ALL THE CITIZENS.
    Students in ALL places of learning in Lanka plus the State employees and even private enterprise folk ought to take an Oath of Allegiance to Lanka, at least once a week.

    No more ILLEGAL MIGRANTS & REFUGEES in Lanka, please.

    PS: The map of Lanka after rising sea levels have stabilised, should be posted for all to view.

  9. NeelaMahaYoda Says:


    The depth can be varied depending upon the specific location. Even City of Colombo, Trincomalee, Galle Mathara, Negambo Hambanthota , Batticoloa and Jaffna can be under the new maritime province. Do not think that under new constitution, maritime resources will come under central government if we are opting out to a pseudo-federal constitution. Even the UK had this problem. The issue of who owns the oil and gas in the waters off Scotland’s coast had played a big role during the campaign ahead on the Scottish referendum in autumn 2014.

  10. Senerath Says:

    Have you accepted defeat and become a slave to Indian imposed constitution ? This decease of reciting “CENTRAL GOVERNMENT”, “DEVOLUTION”, RECON…….” . Why not fight for uprooting of 13 A instead ? It costs nothing and enhances that sovereignty at zero cost.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with @Senerath that the 13-A must go.
    The 13-A is the curse of Sri Lanka – made in INDIA during the Cold War and forced on Lanka in 1987.
    It is an ILLEGAL piece of legislation and must be removed if Lanka is to move forward with self respect.

    Suggestion :
    * Give the entire Coastal Belt (which Dr CD calls the 10th Province) some other name ?
    * For Administrative purposes, use the District only.

  12. Dilrook Says:

    NMY and others

    Please take a look at the 2015 January election map by electorate. Who won almost all coastal electorates (except a very less populated ones in the southern province)?

    Why did he win these areas? Because they have a majority of minorities! No matter how you cut it, the 10th province will have a majority of minorities (Tamils, Muslims and Christians). They will agitate to go separate. India, USA, EU, Japan, Saudi, China, Russia, etc. will compete against each others to sponsor their separation because a new nation of the coastal areas is very valuable to all of them.

    The fact it is under the Centre makes no difference. In Catalonia police powers rested with the Centre unlike Sri Lanka where the province owns police powers legally. The right to hold elections rests with the centre. But despite all that they did it.

    This is why it is said “demography is destiny”. If you create a province where the majority is from minorities, it is inevitable they will demand separation. Tamil Eelam demand, Muslim separate administration units in the east demand and Malaya Nadu demand of Sri Lanka are all due to this fact.

    This proposal is not just dubious (as no one knows the boundaries) and economically unsustainable, it is downright dangerous. Anyway, not even a single MP or a leader outside parliament takes this seriously. So there is no chance of it ever seeing daylight. This is a mere hypothetical discussion.

  13. Dilrook Says:


    The way to face sea erosion and rising sea levels challenge is not by creating a new province! Coast and resources beyond are anyway under the central government under 13A. All the few good the article mentions can be done today without a 10th province. It pays to check facts, laws and do research.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    With or without Sea Erosion, the 13-A must go.
    Lanka does NOT need it or want it.
    Put it to the vote and see !


    Some Questions to ask re Climate Change :

    How do other countries manage re Sea Erosion at present ?
    What are their plans to manage the new threat of rising sea levels due to Polar Caps melt down ?
    The Dutch built the famous Dykes in Holland – but how will they manage the new challenge of even higher levels of sea water due to Polar Cap melt down ?

    How will every country on Earth manage the rising sea levels ?

    How is INDIA going to manage the melt down of the Himalayas (already happening), and the consequent drying up of the larger Rivers there ?

    Drop “names for the areas” to be saved from the rising seas and just get the job done.
    With the 13-A gone, and the District in place for Administration, there is no need to fear.
    Separatists will have no areas to claim, if the sea claims those areas.

    Time to forget diffferences and get down to the business of Survival for All.

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