It is essential to try to go deep into the actions and politics of the NPC, led by TNA’s breakaway group centred around the Chief Minister, C.Vigneswaran and assess the inherent dangers. Separatist ideology and an attempt to return to the barren politics of the LTTE can be seen in every one of their actions. If this is not identified and exposed, once again the Tamil people will be forced to take the road to disaster and Sri Lanka will be plunged into another civil strife for decades. One such painful experience in our history is too many – we have to mobilize ourselves and act together to prevent its repetition. Otherwise we will sleepwalk into another disaster like the one we had to endure during the last 30 years. I am not a nationalist but if we have to choose between the nationalism of the TNA and that of the Federal Party, the latter is a tolerable one. Neither is my choice provided we can collectively work for a truly democratic Sri Lanka where all the different communities can enjoy equal rights, opportunities and privileges, irrespective of their religion, language and ethnicity.
The actions of the TNA rebels headed by the CM cannot be seen as isolated actions of madness. They are interconnected by the dogmatic philosophy of an inward looking separation and isolation, giving false hopes to people in desperation. Another dangerous aspect to the politics of separation is the inclusion of cultural and religious fundamentalism. CM’s lamenting over cultural degeneration and his posing as the guardian of Tamil Culture, if not correctly understood and checked, can lead us on a slippery road similar to Islamic fundamentalism. His resemblance to Ayotola Humani of Iran is not a comforting factor either. His going to India to meet Modi through the back door to have his Swamigi (who was charged and found guilty of child abuse by all the courts in India including the Supreme Court of India) released from imprisonment in India is symptomatic of his religious fanaticism. If his group secures political power and Eelam, the Tamil people will definitely be subjected to religious, cultural and political dictatorship.
We have seen the Chief Minister glorifying Prabakaran as a hero soon after his election to power. Since then he and his faction have joined hands with the pro-Eelamists within and outside of Sri Lanka to take on Sri Lanka once again.
We can see their incessant cry of not enough powers devolved to the NP even though many important devolved powers and the unusually large government funds allocated to the NP have not been effectively utilized to serve the immediate as well as the long term needs of our people. This is because they want to keep alive the suffering and desperation of the Tamil people to justify the separatist agenda, to which people can again be swayed easily due to government’s failure to restore the legitimate rights of the Tamil speaking people.
The CM and the NPC have continued their non-cooperating and boycotting stance towards every positive political move and sustainable development effort made by the central government. They failed to participate and even blatantly boycotted the co-ordinating meetings between the PC’s and the central government.
They failed to co-operate with the government in their efforts to solve the Northern fishermen’s livelihood issues brought about by the illegal trawler fishing promoted by Thamil Nadu government. The NPC failed to take up the fight against illegal trawler fishing on behalf of the Northern fishermen and instead were joining hands with Tamil Nadu politicians against Sri Lankan government’s effort to ban trawler fishing in Sri Lankan waters. The agenda of reviving the separatist cry with the support of Thamil Nadu can be seen here clearly.
Sri Lankan government’s magnanimous efforts to provide piped treated water supply to Jaffna, Poonakari, the islands off Jaffna Peninsula and Kilinochchi at a cost of Rs.25 Billion were obstructed and finally forced to abandon by the NPC. Government’s proposal was to raise the bunds of Iranaimadu Kulam to increase its storage capacity and only to use the additionally stored water for supplying drinking water to Jaffna. This was rejected by the Northern Provincial Council for pedantic reasons.
The government’s program to divert the Mahavali waters to Jaffna to meet any water shortfall was also rejected by the Northern Provincial Council again for pedantic reasons.
After rejecting the above internationally tried and tested sustainable proposals to satisfy the water needs of the people of the North, the NPC was insane enough to propose the use of the very expensive and unsustainable desalination technology. Separate Eelam strategy can only be the reason attributable for this approach. NPC wants to cut of the NP from the rest of Sri Lanka and be fully independent and self-sufficient in every aspect, including for its water security. They are not seeking to find solutions for the problems faced by the Tamils within a united Sri Lanka. They are acting in preparation for separation.
Sri Lanka is not a desert country like Saudi Arabia, where there is very little rainfall, no rivers and no underground aquifers (stored water). So Saudis have no choice but to opt for desalination technology in spite of its very high cost. The only other situation where desalinated water is unavoidable is in submarines carrying war heads and naval personnel to operate them because they need to remain under deep water for very long periods, sometimes even for years!
Sri Lankan Tamils neither live in deserts nor in submarines. They are a blessed people, who live in a country blessed with plenty of rainfall, plenty of perennial rivers as well as underground aquifers. When nature has blessed them with so much natural water, it is crazy to opt for desalination technology and burden the Tamil people with unaffordable bills, unless we intend to cut the Northern Province from the rest of Sri Lanka for ever. The scientific arguments against separation, if it is not already apparent, will be given in the concluding stage of this article.
Likewise the government’s program to provide sewerage system and sewage treatment facility for Jaffna City was also abandoned due to pedantic objections by the NPC.
Likewise the government’s investigation into the oil pollution of the underground water in Chunnakam area emanating from disposed waste oils from the Northern Power Station was also not allowed to continue. As soon as the pollution was reported, the government carried out scientific tests at approved laboratories and after confirmation of oil pollution, the government began to supply clean drinking water to all the affected villages and schools by bowsers and tankers. All these arrangements have been stopped by the NPC, leaving the affected people exposed to water borne diseases now.
CM and his rebels have made the people in the Chunnakam area to drink oil contaminated water and also denied the people of Jaffna, piped drinking water and the facility of modern sewerage system both of which are enjoyed by people in other cities in Sri Lanka.
Every one of these actions is intended to put the health and welfare of the Tamil people in danger. Without attending to their basic survival needs with the assistance provided by the government, the Tamil people are being canvassed to boycott the role of central government and to prepare for the political struggle for a separate Eelam – a miserably failed strategy has now been revived by the present NPC administration. It should be carefully noted that this policy is completely out of tune with the policy line of the top TNA leadership, which is co-operating with the present government to come to sustainable constitutional arrangements under a united Sri Lanka to accommodate the legitimate concerns of the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka.
The Northern Provincial Council, led by the CM, is taking the Tamil people of the North on a suicidal path with their politics of separation. It is a crazy, whimsical, irresponsible, almost childish and ill thought out approach by people with little or no political experience and credence. They have totally failed in their administration of the NP.
It is essential to save the Tamil speaking people from the danger of them being once again used by these self-seeking politicians.
Separate Eelam is not only unrealistic but historically has been a disaster. The armed struggle for Eelam ended in utter failure, resulting in unacceptably high human losses, internal and external displacements, loss of property and livelihood, destruction and brain drain. It is shown to be unachievable under the existing local, regional as well as geo-political climate, which is unlikely to change and is more likely to get worse. Economically, politically and socially too independent Eelam is unviable and is not in the interest of Tamil people for the following reasons.
1. In the sixties the Tamils and Muslims were largely concentrated in the North and East. They regarded the North and East as their home land. Their mother tongue was Tamil. Their homesteads were in the North and East but for their employment and livelihood the Tamils largely depended on the South. For this reason the economy of the North was often referred to as Money Order economy. The Tamil speaking people of the North and East shared a common culture and common aspirations. There was sufficient basis to regard the Tamils and the Muslims as a distinct nation within Sri Lanka but still an independent Eelam was not considered feasible due to economic unviability. For these reasons only, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (the only national party in Sri Lanka to do this) put forward “Regional Autonomy” as opposed an independent Eelam for the Tamil speaking people of the North and East. But since then as a result of the ill-fated and despotic armed struggle for Eelam, North and East got separated and Muslim –Tamil relations deteriorated as a result of the forcible expulsion of the Tamil speaking Muslims from the North by the LTTE. Tamils and Muslims got uprooted from their homelands and were scattered in the capital city, Colombo and in other parts of Sri Lanka as well as abroad. The homeland concept and the nation status for the Tamil speaking people got destroyed by the very forces which fought for Tamil Eelam. The one time merged North East Provincial Council under the Indo-Sri Lanka pact was once and for all demerged unwisely by the LTTE itself. For all intents and purposes the North and East have now become permanently separated. Re-merger is looking impossible. Now the best we can hope for is meaningful devolved power for the Northern Province with power sharing at the centre.
2. Now that the possibility of uniting the North and the East as a single administrative unit is no longer possible, the “Eelam concept” is a dead one. Because the Tamil speaking population is permanently scattered all over the island and abroad, the nation concept and the homeland concept are unsustainable and meaningless concepts.
3. Eelam has always been and is even more so now economically and politically unviable. Expansion of agriculture is not possible due to insufficient water resources in the North and there is no scope for income generation through agriculture. Cost of agricultural production is too high to market them competitively. Development of the fishing industry is possible but it will not be sufficient to sustain the population.
4. Majority of the Tamils live now in the South and abroad. They are unlikely to want to migrate to the NP and live under a fanatically religious and culturally dictatorial regime, listening to the sermons of the hinduvite Chief Minister.
5. Eelam demand will not be supported by India and the west. Securing it through negotiation is not possible. Securing it through armed struggle has already been proved a failure. So Eelam is now a pipe dream of knaves only.
6. Even if it is secured, sustaining it and defending its borders is even more difficult. Border wars will continue and Tamils will have to live in a state of war for ever. Military expenditure to protect the borders will be astronomically high and the burden will be passed on to the Tamil people.
7. Tamil people will forego all the benefits of living together with the Sinhala and Muslim people in a larger and more viable economic unit happily and prosperously. Separate state will mean separate defence (army, air force, navy and police), separate transport system (air transport, sea transport, railways, road transport), separate civil service etc. i.e. a mirror image of all what we have in Sri Lanka plus of course several desalination plants and wind turbines under Minister Ingaranesan – all these in a potty little province! We will become a laughing stock with C.Vigneswaran as the President of Tamil Eelam ( what is now Northern Province)
8. Security of Tamils living in the South cannot be guaranteed.
9. The only way Eelam can survive economically and politically is to become a puppet regime of the US under which NP will become the theatre of local and international conflicts. We will have to dance to the tune of the American Empire.
This article is written in order to provoke a public discussion on the current situation in the Northern Province.
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