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Meaningful change needed after Meethotamulla


Comments / 1764 Views / Tuesday, 18 April 2017 00:01


It’s been a few days now since the collapse of a garbage mountain in Meethotamulla buried over 100 houses and claimed the lives of several area residents, but already we are beginning to see the familiar refrain from politicians as they fast look to ascribe blame for this tragic disaster.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) blamed the Government for the collapse, saying that it should be responsible since it did not have a plan. The JVP noted that there have been various awareness programs carried out by residents and environmentalists against the dumping of garbage in Meethotamulla but said authorities never took measures to remove the garbage or provide alternative places for the people nearby to live.

 

 



The Prime Minister for his part expressed the Government’s regret at not being able to move the massive garbage dump before the tragedy struck, despite plans to do so being in place. Accepting responsibility for the disaster, the Government added that steps were taken to relocate 180 families which lived near the garbage dump but noted how some residents were reluctant to move away from the area.

Taking into account all these varied reactions it is sad to see how the first response to such a disaster from the Opposition was to figure out how to batter the Government with it, while the Government’s primary action was to protect itself from any accusations of negligence. At no point was there the collective acceptance of blame that is necessary to move forward as a country from a disaster such as this; after all, the garbage mountain at Meethotamulla did not form overnight, it took decades. 

 

 



The root cause for this however is one that is known to all Sri Lankans: the short-sightedness of our elected officials. Each and every Government that comes into power campaigns on the promise of effecting the ‘meaningful change’ that the previous Government promised but failed to provide. This merry-go-round takes place every couple of years with the same politicians flitting in and out of power. Those who suffer throughout this process though are their constituents.

The politicians who take part in this farce believe that the only way to gain and retain power is to promise the world, failing which, deliver only progress that is tangible or visible. For the previous regime it was the ‘beautification’ of Colombo which contributed vastly to the growth of the Meethotamulla garbage dump, for others it is lucrative, visible, construction projects. None of these initiatives however address the core issues plaguing vast swathes of Sri Lanka.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result, and Sri Lankan politicians can take heed of this. Instead of pouncing on your opponents mistakes, maybe work with them in formulating long-term policies that can be carried on regardless of which party is in power. Then maybe for once you will be able to follow through on the meaningful change that was promised.

 


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