Category Archives: Sri Lanka Politics

Who Will Control Maldives Territory If Maldive Islands Sink In The Sea?

One of the most discussed topics in Sri Lanka today is the the unrest in our neighbourly Maldive islands with the democratically elected president Mr. Ibrahim Nasheed’s resignation. Many Sri Lankan websites and bloggers have been writing a lot about it. But these articles focus almost exclusively on current Maldivian politics and maybe some bits of Maldivian history. However among these I came across a rather different kind of blog post written in Sinhala language with a title saying something like, “What Should Be Sri Lanka’s Strategy on the Future of Maldives!” It’s a very thought provoking article because I don’t think many Sri Lankans have ever thought about the enormous geo-political and strategic advantage Sri Lanka has in possibly taking control of the Maldives territory when that country sinks into the Indian Ocean in the near future.

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Google Satellite map of Maldives and Sri Lanka

If you are not familiar with the Maldives you may wonder what all this talk about the country sinking is. Even though the country has 298 square kilometers of land and about 1200 islands, the highest point of the Maldives is said to be just 2 meters or 7 feet. The average ground level of the country is 1.5 meters or about 5 feet above sea level. This has made Maldives officially the lowest country in the world!

Now with global warming, the sea level is expected to rise a meter or two in the Indian Ocean by the end of the this 21st century. So sadly it is very likely we may witness a slow sinking or submerging of the majority of the Maldives within our lifetime. The Maldives may be the Atlantis lost to the sea in the 21st century.

What Will Maldivian People Do When The Maldives Sinks?

Maldives currently has a population of about 400,000. So when the country sink into the ocean what are these people going to do? Their only option will be to migrate to other countries. As climate refugess these people can get visa to most countries of the world. I heard sometime back that Australia and some other coutries had said they will grant citizenship to Maldivians when it sinks. But in recent years the Maldivian government has given serious attention to this issue. They say they don’t want to be climate refugees living on dole-out. So they have setup a special fund using money from their booming tourism industry to buy land in foreign countries like Australia, India and Sri Lanka. So one day when the country submerges Maldivian people will have their own land in foreign countries to move to.

Who Will Control Maldivian Territory Without Local People Or Visible Land?

If as predicted, the sea level rises a meter or two the majority of Maldives land will submerge and the local population will have to leave the country and become citizens in foreign countries. In that case even though the Maldivians may retain rights to the lands and territory they will not likely be able to function as an independent country with a government would.

Also though the country will become inhabitable for normal living, tourist resorts that are raised above sea level and built can will still function in even when Maldives goes underwater. So big question arises when their is no local population and government, who will control the current Maldivian territory?

My guess is it will be one of these following global or regional power houses. As it is situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean in one of the worlds busiest shipping lanes whoever controls Maldives territory will wield a lot of geo-political power.

1. The Indians

2. The USA (Another Diego Garcia for the US In the Indian Ocean?)

3.The Chinese

4. NATO

5. Britain with Europe

There is a slim chance for even Sri Lanka to take control of the Maldivian territories when the country submerges. That is if we our Government and private sector can build a strong partnership with Maldivians now like investing and consolidation on Maldivian tourism and other sectors and most importantly inviting them to settle in Sri Lanka and making sure the largest share of Maldivians who migrate settle in Sri Lanka.

dehiwela flyover bridge

Dehiwela People Loose Bus Halts, Road Crossings Due To Dehiwela Flyover Bridge

Here you see some photos of the Dehiwela Flyover bridge over the Colombo Galle Road at the Dehiwela Junction. At a glance anyone who looks at this flyover bridge which was built at record breaking speed of just three months in 2009 will see it as a sign of big development in Sri Lanka. However as you will learn from the things I will tell you in this article the reality is far from development or progress for the country.

dehiwela galle road bridgeThis Dehiwela Flyover Bridge is living proof of another ill-conceived Government project which swallowed hundreds of millions of public funds but overall failed to benefit the country or its people in the short term or long term.

The Sri Lanka Government spent a huge amount of money and built this flyover bridge saying it is development and will reduce the nightmarish slow moving traffic jams you see during office and school hours in Galle road near Dehiwela Junction. However 2 years after the flyover was built, today the traffic jams in Dehiwela near this flyover is worse than it ever was.

If the authorities really wanted to reduce traffic in Dehiwela Galle road they should have either widened the Galle road from 4 lanes to 6 lanes or built the planned Dehiwela Marine Drive which will run parallel to the Galle road and offer a alternative to motor traffic. Instead they not only built this vain flyover bridge but also removed road crossings, several bus halts and blocked turning points to off roads from Galle Road by erecting an island and fence in the middle of the Dehiwela Galle Road.

dehiwela flyover bridge

As a resident who lives near the flyover and sees and uses it, I can attest that the Dehiwela Flyover has now become a curse to Dehiwela people. For instance instance a few days back I met an elderly lady, (who said she was a 70+ great-grandmother) standing near the Dehiwela Municipal Council. She told me she is a social worker and JP and she had collected 25 signatures from her neighbors and had come to meet the  Dehiwela & Mount Lavinia Mayer to complain about the removal of road crossings and bus halts within the last year or two in  the Dehiwela Galle Road. Removal of these has caused her and her neighbors who live in Campbell Place off Dehiwela Galle Road to walk several hundred meters before they can get into a bus or cross the Galle road to shop at the Food City supermarket at the other side of the road.

The Authorities have removed several bus haults and crossings like this near the flyover saying they were causing more accidents. The bus halts that were known as Ebert Silva bus halt, Arpico bus halt, Cambell place halt are some of those removed. So to board a bus Dehiwela people and visitors have to sometimes walk nearly a kilometer to the next nearest bus halt. However the increase in accidents is not because of the halts or crossings. As you can see in the above photos the flyover was built at the Dehiwela junction without widening the road. So many motorist who drive over the flyover in which traffic moves faster find it hard to control the speed when they join the slow moving traffic at the other end of the flyover. This is the primary reason for accidents not bus halts.

Vehicle owners in Dehiwela also face hardships after the flyover was built. Before the flyover was built their were gaps in the island at the middle of the road and there was no fence in the middle of the Galle Road at Dehiwela. So vehicles who wanted to turn to off roads were able to turn where they wanted from the Galle Road. The below photo shows how the Galle road was there when building the Dehiwela Junction Flyover. The photo after that was taken today and shows the dividing fence at the middle of the road.

colombo galle road

dehiwela galle road

But now because the road is divided at the center with a island and fence motorist who want to turn to off road are forced to drive right up to the Dehiwela Junction and come back in the other side of the road before turning to the off road they want to go. This  means Dehiwela people are often forced to drive pass their by-roads and back for more than 1km but also adds to increased traffic at the Dehiwela Junction and loss more fuel and time for Dehiwela people. For others who use taxi cabs and three wheelers this has resulted in having to pay extra taxi fees for the additional distance traveled.

So after more  than 2 years of the flyovers existence it has not only failed in easing the traffic jams in Dehiwela but also caused additional hardships to people who live and visit the Dehiwela town.

Photos of New Wellawatte Dehiwela Marine Drive Bridge Construction

After 15 years of plans and just idle talk from authorities, the Marine Drive in Colombo that currently runs parallel to the Galle Road is now being extended to Dehiwela. The first stage of the new Dehiwela Marine drive road seems to be the construction of a bridge over the old Dutch canal that separates Wellawatte from Dehiwala. Upon hearing about this bridge’s construction a few days back from a three-wheel driver, I thought lot of people who suffer the traffic blocks in Dehiwela Galle Road will like to see it. So, I went to see it today morning and managed to take the photos you see below of this new Wellawatte Dehiwala Marine drive bridge for Sri Lanka News Online.

 

marine drive dehiwala

As you can see in this photos the marine drive bridge connecting Wellawatte and Dehiwala is almost complete. What remains is the laying of long concrete slabs over this bridge’s steel under carriage.

marine drive bridge dehiwala

In the below picture you can see the concrete slabs that are to be placed on top of the steel structure of the bridge. A guy I spoke to who works in a business near this bridge told me the State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka carried out the initial piling and concrete base construction work of this steel bridge. Bringing the pre-manufactured steel parts of the bridge and assembling it over that base using the crane you see here is being carried out by a foreign arm.

dehiwala wellawatte marine drive
Like in Wellawatte to Kollupitya the Dehiwala Marine drive section is also going to run a few meters inland and parallel to the Colombo South coastal railway tracks. I was fortunate to snap a train pass by when I was there on the railway bridge next to the Dehiwala-Wellawatte new Marine drive bridge.

dehiwala marine drive
But if you have dreams of driving in the Dehiwala Marine drive in very soon, well… there is a lot more work to be done than making a bridge. As you can see in the next two photo as of today reclaiming land for the road and clearing it has not even started. The houses and buildings to the land side of the railway track in the below pictures need to be reclaimed and demolished  before the construction of the Dehiwala Marine drive extension begins.
dehiwala marine road

(At the far end of the railway tracks in the above photo can you dimly make out a train stopped at the Dehiwela railway station? And also the tall building next to it is the 20 story Marine City Apartment complex.)

new marine drive dehiwala

The final photos here depicts the railway bridge and the new marine drive bridge as seen from the estuary of the old Wellawatte Dutch Canal.

Wellawatte canal bridge

Now the question lies how long it will take to see the contruction begin on the real road? And above all, if and when Dehiwala marine drive is constructed will it be enough to ease the  peak-hour traffic congestion on the Dehiwala stretch of the Galle Road and pure chaos found at the bottle-neck Dehiwala junction flyover inter-section?

Govt Wants Websites Publishing Sri Lanka News To Register With Media Ministry!

I just received the following SMS message on my mobile phone from Dialog Adaderana News Alerts.

“All websites that publish news on Sri Lanka or its people from here or elsewhere requested to register with the Media Ministry-Govt Info dept- adaderana.lk – SMS Time: 05/11/2011 17:07:21”

As a average middle class citizen of Sri Lanka who does a bit of blogging about my country through this website, I’m very concerned about this new development. I would very much like to hear what you think about this issue?

Particularly about things like…

Is this move legal? Doesn’t it smack on smell like a move by the Government to curtain free speech?
Does this mean if someone has or wants to start even a blog using a free blogging platform in some remote corner of Sri Lanka they needs to register with the Media Ministry of Sri Lanka?
What will be the consequences if some website, blog or webpages with news feeds like a MySpace page or Facebook page doesn’t register with the media ministry? (Can the government block those sites or arrest the website owners and bloggers?)

Sri Lanka Car News – Tax Increased for Three Wheelers And Hybrid Cars

Seems like the Sri Lanka honeymoon with Hybrid vehicles is over. I received the following SMS Ada Derana News Alert on my Dialog powered mobile phone. It’s about new total tax regulations for Hybrid and other vehicles to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Treasury Secretary has informed that these new tax laws are effective from 21st April.

Total taxes on hybrid cars with below 2000cc will increase from 38-50% 2000-3000cc 75%, above 3000 cc to 100% – Adaderana.lk

Total taxes on cars below 1000 cc increased from 95-120%, 1000-1600 cc from 119%-128%, Trishaws 38%-50.

Total taxes on all petrol and Diesel cars above 1600 cc are to be remained unchanged.

These taxes seems to be effective regardless of whether they are imported or made in Sri Lanka. another blow for locals. Expect the prices of  Sri Lanka cars for sale to skyrocket within the next few days.

There was a good inducement in Sri Lanka in the past few months for people to buy hybrid vehicles because of the tax concessions those vehicles enjoyed. And that was one of the few good things for the SL consumers because it encourages and enabled middles class Sri Lankans going to buy a new car to buy a good quality, ecofriendly and fuel efficient hybrid vehicle. But now with this tax increases I don’t know how competitive the hybrid cars will be in future. That’s sad