all roads bring garbage

1337212411000 » Tagged as: eco-system , Tagged as: holiday season , Tagged as: Nuwara Eliya

All Roads Lead to Eco-destruction

Creative Placemaking has come to Nuwara Eliya, brining vast improvements to the town, specially around Lake Gregory and all roads did lead to Nuwara Eliya, this 'season' too. The little town was bursting at its seams. A cultural tradition inherited from the 'White masters', is one more battle of nature vs. culture, a battle which nature is always losing.

What a crowd! A crowd of so many different kinds who had zeroed in on Nuwara Eliya. There were the regulars, who always came to this 'Little England', to 'escape the heat', 'because servants had gone home for the new year', 'because we have always come to Nuwara Eliya in April', 'to enjoy the cool climate', 'for the motor races'.

There are those who come to Nuwara Eliya because they have heard it is the most beautiful place in the country. We tell this to our foreign tourists. What we do not tell them is that our hill country would have been one of the most beautiful places on earth, before the forests were cleared to plant tea. When we have a whole country that is really as beautiful as Nuwara Eliya, why do we all have to converge on this small town, is a question that always come to my mind.

We also have visitors who come to Nuwara Eliya because everyone else comes here for the season, and they feel left out. Those who come here to get away from the city and the people they meet day in and day out, end up with the same crowd here at the hotels and restaurants and the race track.

There were those who stayed in the most expensive hotels, who had arrived in the latest luxury vehicles. Others who rented the holiday homes scattered around the town, or had booked other hotels months ahead, and still others who arrive without any planning and go around looking for rooms.

We meet people who talk of our cultural heritage, but who have ignored the New Year cultural procedures to 'enjoy' Nuwara Eliya. Priorities keep changing. It it the way of life. Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. Anithya.

All of them contribute to the worst pollution of the town, some of which cause permanent damage and the town would take the next eleven months to recover from the lesser damage. If only our visitors could realize that we should make every effort to keep whatever is left of the natural beauty of ancient times, and we should not do anything to cause further damage. This is the kind of place where we should not even leave footprints.

We have seen and heard so much of the positive aspects of the Nuwara Eliya Season, but unless we try to look at the negative side today, tomorrow there would not be a Nuwara Eliya for all roads to lead to. Even this year, most visitors felt the effects of all the environmental damage we have been causing. There was so much rain during the season, when everybody expected sunny weather, where they could see all the flowers in bloom, around the hotels, home gardens and at Hakkgala. They had hoped to let the children play in the park and walk around the town.

Very soon instead of fire places and room heaters, hotel rooms would require air-conditioning. Instead of winter clothes, people would need light summer clothes, ice cream would be in greater demand than hot tea.

Worldwide weather patterns have changed, and will continue to change, and all because of the selfish greedy acts by man, a little of which we can observe at Nuwara Eliya during the season. Like the 'flap of the butterfly', the changes we cause here, could affect the climate at the other end of earth.

Some of the damage could be easily prevented. The scattering of garbage, polythene food wrappings, left over food, empty bottles and cans, need not happen. Yet it happens. People are not concerned. Even if we deploy all the Environment Police force of the country in Nuwara Eliya we could not stop it. There has to be awareness and the willingness, and also the support of the local authorities. There were very few garbage bins on the roads, and if people did not have a place to dispose of their garbage, many would not bother to keep them in their vehicle till they found a dump.

The influx of tourists, both foreign and domestic, creates a demand for more rooms, more restaurants, more entertainment. All this means more construction, in a town with limited land availability. Construction means clearing more land, more virgin forest cover. The buildings need more timber, meaning more trees to be felled, and more sand to be collected from rivers and tanks. Most of these buildings open during long weekends and school vacation periods, and would be closed up for the rest of the year.

The way this town is built, there is no room for the expansion of the road network, unless by pulling down the historic buildings, uprooting all the trees and leveling off hillocks. Then it will no longer be 'Little Englnad', but 'What used to be little England'. Till then we are leaving a huge carbon footprint. We are doing permanent damage by contributing to global warming. The roads are so congested, parking space is so limited, all the vehicles stranded for hours in traffic jams. It is worse than the city at peak times.

One more crime we can prevent is the torture of the poor animals, with human beasts riding on them. Their backs had not evolved to carry other beasts on them, and not to walk on asphalt and concrete amid the dust and the noise. Even if a child could be carried on their backs, how could adults who are perhaps heavier than the creature they are riding on, consider it fun. If we do not teach our children to love plants and animals, how could they learn to love their fellow humans when they grow up?

All this is not to discourage people from visiting Nuwara Eliya during the season. April is the best time for the visit, and the most convenient because of the school vacations and New Year holidays. Let us think about all these issues over the next eleven months, so that 2013 season could be more enjoyable, more 'fun' and also more eco-friendly.

And let us not limit ourselves to Nuwara Eliya. We have beautiful beaches, over 2800 km of coastline. Then there are 21 National Parks, and over 70 bird sanctuaries, and 427 bird species. We have 51 waterfalls which are over 10 meters in height. The wonder we can see on a moonlit night or in the evening from the Parakrama Samudra, Minneriya or Tissamaharama could always match anything we could see in Nuwara Eliya.

Where ever we go, let us also keep in mind, that all this natural beauty does not belong to us. It belongs to all living creatures, and is for the benefit of all, and that we do not have any legal or moral right to harm it in anyway. Let us respect Mother Earth as we respect our own Mother.

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