Groundbreaking blueprint for SL re-opening | Daily News


Groundbreaking blueprint for SL re-opening

Geo Distancing, a far-reaching protocol which adds Vehicle Distancing, School Distancing and Work Distancing to the new normal of Social Distancing along the lines of Geographical demarcations may hold the key to not just finding a practical methodology in dealing with the Covid-19 virus but enforcement of long-felt dynamics to balance the scale between urbanization and rural inequality, says Contingency Intelligence & Response Agency (CIRA), a think tank and catalyst for disaster prevention, mitigation and management.

In an ambitious “Sri Lanka 2.0” Strategy, the think-tank advocates that the government is duty-bound to seize the crisis-opportunity to correct-course while ensuring that the gains on the climate change front are not lost in allowing the country to spiral back to pre-Covid-19 status-quo.

CIRA’s far-fledged suggestions includes that popular city schools be asked to operate satellite centers of learning, segregating student, teacher and admin populations in Colombo schools to three satellites in Colombo North, East and South, as a way of getting students back into classes but within their own localities and administered by the same schools.

CIRA recommends that the system be initially mixed with a schedule of E-learning and Class experience to mitigate the threat of Covid-19 but leading to a permanent satellite or branch system that will prevent urban congestion, pollution and severe hardships faced by students.  As an effective means of mitigating the Corona virus, schools and offices may need to be split into even smaller cells with strict health safety compliance while allowing for much-needed social, administrative and logistic contact. The methodology, CIRA proposes, must be extended to government and private institutions, working out a similar scheme which allows families to study, work and live in their own neighborhoods.  This is a perfect stepping stone to a permanent societal adjustment, says developmental scientist Dr. Dinesh Watawana who concedes that the methodology holds many challenges but advocates it to be, perhaps, the closest to finding a viable solution to the pandemic while also triggering a movement which would see a more equitably developed country.  As Sri Lanka takes measured steps in the right direction, infrastructure and admin capabilities must develop to ensure people embrace the new direction, he said.

This is where new terminology like Vehicle Distancing, Geo Distancing and Work Distancing assumes significance and will serve as forerunners to reversing the ill-effects of urbanization, says Dr. Dinesh Watawana who implores that the exponential gains on the climate change front must be safeguarded while seizing an invaluable opportunity to effect policy change without political fallout, as offered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The current leadership may be Sri Lanka’s best chance to lead with the vision, clarity and courage required for such an enormous social revolution, Dr. Watawana said.

The earth is healing as we stay in lockdowns and there’s a poignant message to us in this scenario.  There’s one thing we probably couldn’t afford to and that is to get back to the same old mess, says Dr. Kala Oshadhi Peiris of CIRA who is an attorney and a social scientist, while pointing to dramatic reversals in migration trends which opens the door to creating localized economies which naturally will mitigate the appeals for urbanization.

Prof. K. K. D. S. Ranaweera, a Departmental Head of University of Sri Jayewardenapura who is also a think-tank member avers that Sri Lanka has been compelled now to look within and thus should begin an industrial revolution tapping into vast potential of the agri sector, as well as, manufacturing with value-addition holding the key to growth.  Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the frailties of our national supply chain leading to untold suffering among the marginalized sections of society and Sri Lanka has the power and the resources to set the record straight, he said.  Also emphasized is the need to create an ‘Ocean Economy’ as Sri Lanka is running out of land with its forest cover declining to around 25%.

We have dreamt of a clean, green and prosperous island and it took a debilitating pandemic to usher us into the doorsteps of sustainable development. 

It will be a travesty if we don’t heed the nature’s calling.  What is ironic is that these ground-breaking policy transitions can be administered as part of steps needed to re-open the country at a time the whole country is willing, says Dr. Watawana.

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