|Monday, 14 February 2005|
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Tsunami and strange happenings
On December 26 while readying for my regular Sunday swim, I received warning from my friend residing close to the beach not to go swimming that day because the sea is according to him in 'turmoil'.
Nevertheless being a marine biologist and who has been working in the marine environment for a very long time, my curiosity dragged me to the beach off Kinross to learn more about what was happening.
At about 11.30 a.m. when I got there, it was strange to see that the water level between the reef and land was much lower than it had ever been and about 75 cm below the top level of the reef.
Normally during low tides only the top of the reef is sometimes visible. The reef was exposed on the land side.
Soon afterwards the reef top got covered and water was spilling over the entire length of the top of the reef on to channel on its land side where the water level was much lower like a miniature 'Niagara Falls'. There is no record of anything like this happening before.
A little later probably close to 12 noon even stranger things happened. Sand and mud were being brought towards the sea surface like a mushroom cloud, in some locations close to the reef on its land side.
What probably happened was, for the tsunami wave to form 50 or 100 km away, a large quantity of water was being drawn out from close to the shoreline and this reduced the water level to unusually low levels.
When the tsunami wave was coming close to the shoreline, the water level on the sea side of the reef was rising and couldn't fill the channel between the reef and the shore till the level reached to top of the reef and then it started spilling over the reef into the channel like 'Niagara Falls'.
The solid reef is probably on a loose sandy bed and as a result due to difference in the water levels on both sides of the reef and consequent difference in water pressure, it was enough for the water from the sea side of the reef to push from under the reef and then come up on the land side bringing sand and mud creating the mushroom clouds near the land side of the reef.
In addition, there was another strange observation soon after the water level on either side of the reef was the same and the reef was no longer visible and the waves were not yet hitting above the high tide level on the shore. This was probably around 12.15 p.m.
There was a strong water current close to the shore moving southwards probably at around 25 cm per second a speed never observed before. The movement was quite obvious not only from the water movement but also from the movement of particles suspended in the water below the water surface.
The movement of water southwards is strange because the tsunami wave was coming westwards from Sumatra and after hitting the south-west corner of the island came along the southern shores and turned around the south-west corner and moved northwards not southwards. May be eddies?
There would have been other strange happenings observed in other locations by others and it is my hope that these details are called for, collected and compiled by an appropriate authority and explanations sought whereever possible for the benefit of the future.
DR. S. SIVALINGAM - Colombo 6.
Tsunami and Norochcholai Coal power project
The doomsday harbingers, Anjanang Eli Karayas and self styled patriots who misled the Bishop of Chilaw and the governments in power and other religious fanatics who objected, along with those who said fools rush in where angels fear to tread, to the siting of the coal plant at Norochcholai, have been proved exclusively wrong. Their argument was the adverse monsoonal conditions in this area.
It would now prove that Norochcholai is the most secure, safe site as we now have witnessed the devastation caused to Hambantota, Trinco, Galle, Mawella, the sites ear-marked, for future coal plants.
All Christian/Catholic believers should now realise that merciful god together with the benevolent St. Anne, at Talawila had pointed a finger at Norochchlai to say it is the place for this project.
It is laudable that international attention has been forcussed on relief and reconstruction work on the affected areas to bring back normally in the day to day life.
However, economic and social development should go hand in hand with the relief and reconstruction work as after rehabilitation works are over, people will have to be found gainful employment, be they self employment, State or private section employment, for which infra-structure facilities must be provided. For such assistance, electricity becomes an essential in-put and that too at an affordable rate.
Hence it is imperative that the construction of the coal plant at Norochcholai should receive the highest, national, priority. Towards this end, at least the countries which have showed interest in funding - China, Japan, India, should collectively or separately come forward without much insistence on conditions of a minor nature.
It could also be a possibility for the Sri Lanka government to approach IB1C who pledged financial aid after the investigations were over, to transfer the funds already granted for the upper Kotmale hydro project, till a finality on that scheme is reached. The need of the hour is the funds for the coal plant at Norochcholai.
Start immediately on the Norochcholai coal plant as by the time restoration and reconstruction work on the tsunami ravage is completed, this coal plant will take over the next stage of development; else we will be back at the same place we were in prior to Dec, 26.
G. A. D. Sirimal - Boralesgamuwa.
Post-tsunami rehabilitation and tasks at hand
I listened recently to a TV chat show where among politicians taking part was a young Buddhist monk representing the Jatika Hela Urumaya (JHU). He made the startling assertion that 3000 NGOs in the country on relief work in the tsunami affected areas are also doing clandestine conversions of the hapless.
He warmed to the subject when invited at every turn but wisely, the others, opposition and government politicians did not bite.
The young bhikkhu would not relent though a listener commented on his adversarial politics at a time like now, and also when people have lost faith with JHU monks after recent violent results of their behaviour.
The subject of conversions is a hot potato in countries in our region. A few days ago, a dear Christian friend wrote and asked for my views. Frankly, I have no views hurting anyone. I do not exactly know why Christians now have this urge to convert others.
There is no use in reviving the past the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish Conquistadors etc. In the Anandabhadekaratta Sutta and three connected discourses, the Buddha speaks thus: Let not a person revive the past or on the future build his hopes; for the past is left behind and the future has not been reached. Instead with insight, let him see each presently arisen state.
Let him know that and be sure of it, invincibly, unshakably. Today the effort must be made. Tomorrow Death may come, who knows?
The subject has very high emotional voltage. Last year, I read a reporting of a Buddhist International Conference here about it. I was surprised to read a statement by a person as having said, 'My blood boils when I read about conversions!'
There is no Teacher who has spoken more on hate than the Buddha. Even Christians and Muslims know and admire.
The point I want to make - which is why it is relevant to revive the past is that the majority of Buddhists, even the learned, are ignorant of what the Buddha actually taught and have no understanding why he taught.
A favourite aphorism I have in this regard is this: There is Dhamma in Buddhism but there is no Buddhism in Dhamma. The word Buddhism was invented by the Colonial British to describe the mores, customs, folklore, beliefs, traditions, temples, sculpture, painting, literature and so on, of the major society in our region.
The Census Department uses the word as a mere statistic. In terms of Dhamma, whether in millions or percentages, it is irrelevant. The reality is the rhetoric of the JHU monk.
Without getting more tendentious perhaps than already, the least I have to say is that he and others of his kind have no right to claim lineage to the Sariputta-Moggallana heritage, apart from anything else.
It is unwise for the JHU to stir up another episode of violence when the country and the government have urgent work to do using the resources and friendship coming to our country in its greatest time of need in history.
Dr. Kingsley Heendeniya - Nugegoda.
Ensure unencroached coastal reservation
The UDA having profited from the tsunamic disaster experience, has taken the sensible decision to guide and regulate the development activities within the coastal reservation zone. Imagine if people lived 1km away from the sea border, the death toll of this human catastrophe would have been per se negligible.
There are plans to restore the existing coastal railway line which goes counter to UDA decision to maintain an undomiciled coastal zone.
Human settlements have generally cropped up along highways, railways and waterways.
If the coastal railway line which runs right through the middle of the coastal reservation, is restored as it is, the natural tendency for people coming to live within the reservation cannot be averted.
Tourism industry has come to stay permanently in our economy. Southern beach is of special attraction to tourists from the West for sunbathing.
A beach bordering an unpopulated reservation zone would be of special interest to tourists desiring privacy. But it may become necessary to provide at specific points within the reservation zone accommodation for safe-keeping of fishing-gear of fishermen engaged in their lawful occupations.
The railway running in the middle of the coastal reservation would pose a problem to tourism industry and would disturb its desired peaceful environment.
Hence it is suggested that planners would do well by laying a new rail track more towards inland connecting major towns right round the country prudently utilizing the resources now coming in as a silver lining of a dark cloud.
W. SAMARANAYAKA Maharagama.
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