Saturday, May 23, 2015

British action during 1915 riots

Dhanesh Wisumperuma

The Nation, 2015-05-23 (Insight)

1915 was the centenary year of the Kandyan convention, under which the entire island of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) came under the United Kingdom in 1815. There was a notable rise of nationalistic movement in the country since early 1915. There was a public interest of the centenary of the convention and a National Day was celebrated in April 1915.This new socio-political developments ceased due to unfortunate incidents which took place in May-June that year, the Riots of 1915.

Riots of 1915, often known as 1915 Ceylonese Riots and 1915 Sinhala-Muslim riots commenced on May 28, 1915, 100 years ago. It was a communal disturbance and was directed against the Muslims.

These riots were against a section of the Muslims living in Sri Lanka, namely the Coast Moors, who were a group of recent emigrants from the Malabar Coast of South India. They were retail traders who penetrated into villages and were ready to extend credit, but they also sold at higher prices. The group had an advantage against their competitors.

Riots were caused by attacking a Buddhist perahera procession held in Kandy on that day, which was followed by an attack on a Muslim mosque and boutiques. This was put under control by the police. Since there were similar attacks in processions earlier in other places like Kurunegala earlier, people were vigilant on this. An event that took place on the next day in Kandy triggered the riots and spread into five provinces of the country – Western, Southern, Central, Sabaragamuwa and North-Western. Muslims were attacked, their boutiques and buildings were looted and damaged. The riots lasted until June 5.

The total death toll of the riot was either 106 or 116, as per the Governor and the military commissioners respectively. According to Armand de Sousa, Morning Leader Editor, who compiled a book titled Hundred Days in Ceylon under Martial Law, 39 of those killed during the riots were either Muslim or Sinhalese. At least 66 persons were killed by the military and the police. The number of total deaths could be different.

The British government headed by Governor Sir Robert Chalmers, took the situation seriously. As the Governor stated later in the Legislative Council, it was a “great calamity” and “the immediate steps demanded by the situation were to punish the guilty and to compensate victims.” Rather than a communal disturbance of simple nature, they treated the riots as an organized conspiracy against the British by the Sinhalese, although there was no evidence to support this ‘conspiracy theory’. It seems that the riots that could be easily handled by the police and authorities were made worse by the military. The most of the atrocities were conducted by the military or the volunteers under the martial law, which was declared on June 2 and maintained until August. The action taken by the authorities to suppress the riots and the method employed to raise compensation from the public are the two important aspects we are concerned with.


Under the martial law, men were ‘liable to be shot at sight’ if they were out of their homes during certain hours. Several people were shot dead, either by the military and Europeans, who volunteered as town guards which included planters and shop-assistants. Punjabi soldiers were also employed in duty. Armand de Souza stated that a large number was shot in cold blood, not in the act of rioting or of resisting authority. He further stated that “deaths that occurred after June 5, suggest a misuse of authority, and require inquiry”. Many were arrested and detained and some were killed with or without a trail, often based on false charges. For instance Edward Hendy Pedris, who was himself an officer of the Town Guard, was shot based on treason charges, which were found as false later. There were many innocent people among the killed, including one or more women.

A large number were detained for their involvement in riots – 4,855 persons were convicted and 3,573 were acquitted by the tribunals. However some of the detainees were not connected to the riots, but were Sinhalese and Buddhists leaders who propelled themselves into action against the British authorities in other fronts – some were among the emerging leaders. Almost all prominent leaders of the temperance movement, which was on stage for about few years, were arrested and detained – this included Senanayake brothers (F.R., D.S. and D.C.), D.B.Jayatilaka, W.A de Silva, C. Batuwantudawe, Hewavitharane brothers (brothers of Anagarika Dharmapala – Dr. C.A. and Edmund – Edmund died while in prison in Jaffna). A.E. Goonesinha was among the arrested leaders of the Young Lanka Movement, a nationalist political association. Several trade union activists were also arrested, such as the 28 workers of the Railway Department who were deported to Eastern Province after the arrest.

There was a call for justice for the innocent people killed and detained. However, colonial authorities continued to refuse to investigate the charges of excesses committed by the military and others during the suppression of riots. The civil and military authorities were behind the reach of the law due to the provisions of ‘the Ceylon indemnity order’. For instance, a commission that inquired into the killing of 10 people in separate incidents in three Korales concluded that “the act of shooting (each) cannot be justified on the ground of the existence of martial law. In short it had no legal justification”. However it further mentioned that “since these executions were done for the maintenance of good order and government and for the public safety of the colony and therefore those ordered directed and done are protected by the Ceylon Indemnities Ordinance.”

Compensation issue

The damages caused by the riots were assessed by the government and were to be charged from the Sinhala people. A new ordinance, Riot Damages Ordinance (No 23 of 1915), was passed to provide necessary regulations to collect compensation from all Sinhala community.

Special Commissioners visited the villages and decided on the compensation due from a village. The general procedure was to summon people to a public place such as a school, and they were asked to hand over their title deeds to the government, often without a receipt. Then they were asked to pay a sum decided by the government as compensation within a given period of time. People obeyed this without a protest due to the presence of Punjabi soldiers at the scene, whose action was well known to them. Dwellers in villages where no Moorman were attacked or no property damage occurred or where people didn’t take part in any rioting were even demanded to pay the compensation.

The amount to be paid was generally a large sum, when we consider of that period. The numerous petitions submitted by the poverty-stricken villagers explain their inability to pay the sum. The villagers frequently mentioned that it was possible to them to pay the amount by mortgaging their deeds, but they couldn’t do that since the deeds were already in the custody of the government.

De Souza mentioned that these claims were ‘exorbitant and disproportionate compensation’. Compensation claims by the Moors was sometimes much higher than the real damage and Souza mentions of such instances. Often the compensation demanded from a village was several times higher than the actual damage occurred in that village.

Voicing for Sinhalese

These atrocities were mentioned by some of the patriots of the country in the Legislative Council. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, the Ceylonese Member elected by the educated voters, voiced strongly for the Sinhalese, who suffered from the suppression as well as from the demand of compensation. He ‘rose for the defense of the Sinhalese leaders in a series of impassioned speeches’ as mentioned in the Volume 3 of University of Ceylon: History of Ceylon. He condemned the manner in which the disturbances were suppressed and the argued of the refutation of the conspiracy against the British. Ramanathan himself compiled a book titled ‘Riots and Martial Law in Ceylon, 1915’ which also includes his speeches at the Council.

We should note that the support received by Ramanathan, who was a Tamil, from the fellow local members of the Council to protect the rights of the Sinhala and Buddhists was inappropriate. Instead some of the local members seemed to support the British action, as revealed from the Hansards – Some members were fear of the upsurge of the new local political leadership. The outstanding support he received was from the European representative of the Council, Harry Creasy.

Another courageous effort was taken by E. W.Perera and D.B.Jayatilaka, who went to the UK despite the threat of World War I, tried to provoke a public opinion there on the atrocities conducted here in SriLanka and to get a body of commissioners appointed. This effort was unsuccessful as British Government was not willing to go for such an inquiry, as they thought it could hamper British morale, as the country was engaged in a World War.

In such a situation, Armand de Souza wrote that a grave consequence of all this is that the faith of the people in the justice and righteousness of British rule has been sharply shaken. The Governor Robert Chalmers, who was known for his oriental scholarship, was recalled in December 1915 and John Anderson was appointed as the new governor of the country.

ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ පිළිබඳව ජගත් මට්‌ටමෙන් අවධානය

ධනේෂ් විසුම්පෙරුම

විදුසර, 2015-05-20, පි. 4 (Vidusara)

පසුගිය සතියේ දී මෙරට ජනමාධ්‍යවල අවධානයට ලක්‌ වූ එක්‌ පුවතක්‌ වූයේ ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ අඩංගු බහාලුම් හෙවත් කන්ටේනර් පහළොවක්‌ පමණ ප්‍රමාණයක්‌ මෙරටට ආනයනය කිරීමයි. ඉන්දුනීසියාවේ සිට මෙරටට ගෙන්වූ බව වාර්තා වූ මේ මේ බහාලුම් තුළ ඇතුළත් වූ ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ප්‍රමාණය ලීටර් 236,000ක්‌ පමණ බව ද පැවසිණි. කෙසේ වෙතත් නීතිමය අවහිරතාවක්‌ නොමැති බැවින් අදාළ කන්ටේනර් රේගුවෙන් නිදහස්‌ කරන ලද බව ද වාර්තා විය.

ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ පිළිබඳව පසුගිය කාලයේ දී මෙරට තුළ තරමක ආන්දෝලනයක්‌ ඇති වූයේ රජරට ප්‍රදේශයේ දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌ක කිහිපයක ව්‍යාප්ත වෙමින් පවතින වකුගඩු රෝගය සඳහා මේ රසායන ද්‍රව්‍යය හේතු විය හැකි බව ඇතැම් පර්යේෂණ මගින් හෙළි කිරීම සමඟ ය. කෙසේ වෙතත් මේ අදහස රටේ සැලකිය යුතු ආන්දෝලනයක්‌ ඇති කිරීමට සමත් වූ අතර, විද්‍යාඥයන් අතර ඒ පිළිබඳව මතභේද පැවැති ආකාරය දැකිය හැකි විය. මේ පිළිබඳව බොහෝ වාද විවාද ද ඇති විය.

මේ තත්ත්වය හමුවේ මෙරටට ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ගෙන්වීම තහනම් කිරීමට පසුගිය වර්ෂයේ මුල දී එවකට පැවැති රජය තීරණය කළ ද වල් පැළෑටි නාශකයක්‌ ලෙස වැවිලි කර්මාන්තයේ අවශ්‍යතාව කෘෂිකාර්මික අංශ විසින් පෙන්වා දීම නිසා ඒ තහනම ඉවත් කරගන්නා ලදි.

කෙසේ වෙතත් අවසානයේ දී අපේ රටේ දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌ක කිහිපයක හා ප්‍රාදේශීය ලේකම් කෙට්‌ඨාස කිහිපයක ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ හා තවත් රසායනික ද්‍රව්‍ය හතරක්‌ භාවිතය, අලෙවි කිරීම සඳහා ඉදිරිපත් කිරීම හා අලෙවි කිරීම තහනම් කර තිබේ. පළිබෝධනාශක පාලනය කිරීමේ පනතේ බලතල අනුව 2014 දෙසැම්බර් මස 22 වැනි දින නිකුත් කරන ලද අංක 1894/4 දරන අති විශේෂ ගැසට්‌ පත්‍රය මගින් මේ තහනම පනවා ඇත. ඒ අනුව අනුරාධපුර, පොළොන්නරුව, මොණරාගල හා කුරුණෑගල යන දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌ක තුළ ද, මහියංගනය, රිදීමාලියද්ද හා කන්දකැටිය යන බදුල්ල දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌කයට අයත් ප්‍රාදේශීය ලේකම් කොට්‌ඨාස තුළ ද මේ තහනම ක්‍රියාත්මක වේ. මෙහි දී තහනම් කරන ලද අනෙක්‌ සක්‍රිය රසායනික ද්‍රව්‍ය වන්නේ ප්‍රොපනිල් (Propanil), කාබරිල් (Carbaryl), ක්‌ලෝµයිරිපොස්‌ (Cholopyrifos), කාබොµsයුරාන් (Carbofuran) යන රසායනික ද්‍රව්‍ය ය.

අදාළ දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌ක හැර රටේ සෙසු ප්‍රදේශවල මේ තහනම ක්‍රියාත්මක නො වේ. එමෙන් ම මේ රසායන ද්‍රව්‍ය තහනම ක්‍රියාත්මක වන්නේ ද යන්න සොයා බැලීම සඳහා පියවරක්‌ ගත් බවක්‌ ද වාර්තා නො වේ.

ජගත් මට්‌ටමේ දී ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌

අපේ රටේ බොහෝ දෙනා සිතා සිටි පරිදි ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ නිසා ඇති විය හැකි ගැටලු සම්බන්ධව අවධානය යොමු ව තිබුණේ අපේ රටේ පමණක්‌ නො වේ. රටවල් ගණනාවක ම මේ රසායන ද්‍රව්‍ය සම්බන්ධව කලක පටන් සැලකිය යුතු අවධානයක්‌ යොමු ව තිබිණි.

ලෝකයේ වැඩි ම ප්‍රමාණයකින් නිෂ්පාදනය කරනු ලබන වල්පැළෑටි නාශකය වන්නේ මේ ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ය. එය කෘෂිකාර්මික, වනවිද්‍යාත්මක, නාගරික මෙන්ම ගෘහාශ්‍රිත පරිහරණය සඳහා යොදගන්නා නිෂ්පාදන 750කට අධික ප්‍රමාණයක්‌ සඳහා භාවිත වන බව සඳහන් වේ. 1970 දශකයේ දී පමණ වෙළෙඳපොළට පැමිණි මේ රසායන ද්‍රව්‍යය ඕගනෝපොස්‌පේට කාණ්‌ඩයට අයත් රසායන ද්‍රව්‍යයකි. ඇතැම් දියුණු රටවල මේ රසායන ද්‍රව්‍යය භාවිත කිරීම ඉහළ ගොස්‌ ඇත්තේ ඊට ඔරොත්තු දෙන ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ප්‍රතිරෝධී ශාක ප්‍රභේද ජාන විකරණය මගින් නිපදවා ඇති නිසා ය. එය කෘෂි නිෂ්පාදනවල දී වැඩි අස්‌වැන්නක්‌ ලබාගැනීම සඳහා ප්‍රයෝජනවත් වේ.

කෙසේ වෙතත් ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ පිළිකා සම්බන්ධ පර්යේෂණායතනය මගින් පසුගිය මාර්තු මාසයේ දී සිදු කරන ලද එළිදරව් කිරීමක්‌ නිසා ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ අරභයා ඇති මේ කැමැත්ත පිළිබඳව යළි සිතා බැලීමට සිදු වී ඇති බව පෙනේ.

ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ පිළිකාකාරකයක්‌ විය හැකි ය

ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයට අනුබද්ධ පිළිකා සම්බන්ධ විශේෂිත ආයතනය වන, ප්‍රංශයේ පිහිටා ඇති පිළිකා පර්යේෂණ පිළිබඳ ජාත්‍යන්තර ඒජන්සිය (International Agency for Research on Cancer - ICAR) ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ සම්බන්ධව ප්‍රකාශ කළේ එය පිළිකාකාරකයක්‌ විය හැකි බව ය. එA තීරණය ගන්නා ලද්දේ මේ පිළිබඳ විශේෂඥයන් 17ක ගෙන් යුක්‌ත කණ්‌ඩායමක්‌ විසින් ඕගනෝපොස්‌පේට පළිබෝධනාශක පහක්‌ සම්බන්ධව සිදු කරන ලද ඇගැයීමක ප්‍රතිඵලයක්‌ ලෙස ය.

එහි දී ග්ලයිපොසේට සහ කෘමිනාශක ලෙස භාවිත වන, මැලතියන් (malathion) හා ඩයසිනොන් (diazinon) යන රසායන ද්‍රව්‍ය තුන ම 'මානව පිළිකාකාරක වීමට සම්භාවී වූ' (probably carcinogenic to humans) හෙවත් 2A කාණ්‌ඩයට ඇතුළත් කර ඇත. මේ කාණ්‌ඩයට අයත් වන්නේ මිනිසුන්ට පිළිකාකාරක වන බවට සීමිත සාධක ඇති බව හා පරීක්‌ෂණාත්මක සතුන් සම්බන්ධ පර්යේෂණවල දී එA බවට ප්‍රමාණවත් සාධක ඇති ද්‍රව්‍ය ය. (IARC ආයතනය පිළිකාකාරක ද්‍රව්‍ය කාණ්‌ඩ පහකට වර්ග කරයි. 1 වැනි කාණ්‌ඩය යනු 'මානව පිළිකාකාරක' (carcinogenic to humans) ද්‍රව්‍ය වේ. දෙවැන්න ඉහත සඳහන් 2A කාණ්‌ඩයයි. තෙවැන්න හෙවත් 2ඊ කාණ්‌ඩය 'මානව පිළිකාකාර බවට භව්‍ය' (possibly carcinogenic to humans) වූ ද්‍රව්‍ය ය. සිව්වැන්නට (3 කාණ්‌ඩය) අයත් වන්නේ 'මානව පිළිකාකාරක බවට වර්ග කිරීමට අපහසු' (Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans) ද්‍රව්‍ය ය. 4 වැනි කාණ්‌ඩයට අයත් වන්නේ 'මානව පිළිකාකාරක නො විය හැකි' (Probably not carcinogenic to humans) ද්‍රව්‍ය ය.)

මේ පිළිබඳ පුවතක්‌ The Lancet Oncology සඟරාවේ පළ විය. (Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate, DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(15)70134-8). මේ සම්බන්ධ සම්පූර්ණ වාර්තාව ඉදිරියේ දී ප්‍රකාශයට පත් වීමට නියමිත ය. එA, පිළිකා පර්යේෂණ පිළිබඳ ජාත්‍යන්තර ඒජන්සියේ 112 වැනි වාර්තාව ලෙසිනි.

මිනිසුන්ට පිළිකා ඇති කරන බවට ඉහත වාර්තාවේ උපුටා දක්‌වා ඇති පහත සඳහන් පර්යේෂණ සිදු කර ඇත්තේ කෘෂිකාර්මික අංශයේ යෙදෙන පිරිස්‌ පදනම් කරගනිමිනි. ඒ අනුව වසා පද්ධතිය ආශ්‍රිත පිළිකා තත්ත්වයක්‌ වන non-Hodgkin lymphoma ඇති වීමේ අවදානම ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌වලට නිරාවරණය වීම නිසා ඉහළ යන බව පහත අධ්‍යයනවලින් දක්‌වා ඇත.
  • ස්‌වීඩනයේ දී පුළුල් වයස්‌ පරාසයක කාන්තාවන් හා පිරිමින් යොදාගනිමින් සිදු කරන ලද අධ්‍යයනයකට අනුව ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ හා මේ පිළිකා වර්ගය අතර ශක්‌තිමත් සම්බන්ධයක්‌ පවතී. 1999-2002 අතර දී සිදු කළ මේ අධ්‍යයනය 2008 වර්ෂයේ දී පළ විය. (International Journal of Cancer, DOI: 10.1002/ijc.23589)
  • ඇමෙරිකාවේ මධ්‍ය-බටහිර ප්‍රදේශයේ පිරිමින් ආශ්‍රිතව සිදු කරන ලද අධ්‍යයනයකට අනුව, උක්‌ත පිළිකා ඇති වීම ඉහළ යැම සඳහා ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ හේතු විය හැකි ය. මෙය 2003 වර්ෂයේ දී පළ වූවකි. (Occupational& Environmental Medicine, DOI: 10.1136/oem.60.9.e11)
  • පිරිමින් පමණක්‌ යොදාගෙන කැනඩාව පුරා සිදු කරන ලද, 2001 වර්ෂයේ දී ප්‍රකාශයට පත් වූ අධ්‍යයනයක දී පෙනී ගොස්‌ තිබුණේ ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ භාවිත කරන දින ගණන හා මේ පිළිකා ඇති වීම අතර සම්බන්ධයක්‌ ඇති බවයි. (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, වෙළුම 10) 

කෘෂිකාර්මික සේවකයන් ගේ රුධිරයේ හා මුත්‍රාවල ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ඇතුළත් බව ඇතැම් පර්යේෂවලින් දක්‌වා තිබේ.

සතුන් සම්බන්ධ පිළිකා සම්බන්ධ ප්‍රමාණික සාදක ද උක්‌ත වාර්තාව සඳහා පදනම් කරගෙන ඇත. මේවා මීයන් ගේ වෘක්‌කීය නාළිකා, සම ආශ්‍රිත දුර්ලභ අර්බුද තත්ත්ව, අග්න්‍යාශය ආශ්‍රිත ඇඩිනෝමා තත්ත්ව ආදිය මේ සඳහා නිදසුන් වේ. එසේ ම ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ හා ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ආශ්‍රිත සංයෝග නිසා ඩීඑන්ඒ හා වර්ණදේහවලට හානි කරන ලද අවස්‌ථා ක්‌ෂීරපායින් සම්බන්ධ අධ්‍යයනවලින් ද මිනිස්‌ සෛල හා සත්ත්ව සෛල යොදාගෙන කළ බහිර්රෝපණ (in vitro) අධ්‍යයනවලින් ද දක්‌වා ඇත.

පසුගිය සතියේ වාර්තා වූ පුවතකට අනුව ඇමෙරිකාවේ රාජ්‍ය ආයතනයක්‌ වන පරිසර ආරක්‌ෂක ඒජන්සිය (Environmental Protection Agency) මේ වන විට ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ පිළිබඳව කිසියම් වූ අධ්‍යයනයක්‌ සිදු කරමින් සිටින අතර එහි වාර්තාව ඉදිරියේ දී නිකුත් වීමට නියමිත ය. (මීයන් තුළ අර්බුද (tumour) ඇති වීම පිළිබඳ පැවැති සාධක හේතුවෙන් ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ 'මිනිසුන්ට භව්‍ය පිළිකාකාරක' (possible human carcinogen) බවට 1985 දී ඇමෙරිකානු පරිසර ආරක්‌ෂණ ඒජන්සිය නම් කළ අතර, පසුව 1991 වර්ෂයේ දී ඒ නම් කිêම ඉවත් කර ඇත.)

ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ තහනම් කර ඇති රටවල්

ඉහත සඳහන් කර ඇති ආකාරයට ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌වල ඇති සෞඛ්‍ය බලපෑම් නිසා එය තහනම් කිêමට පියවර ගෙන ඇති එක ම රට අපේ රට පමණක්‌ නො වේ.

ජාත්‍යන්තර මාධ්‍ය ඔස්‌සේ වාර්තා වූ ආකාරයට ඇතැම් රටවල් ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ භාවිතය සීමා කිරීම පිළිබඳව අවධානය යොමු කර ඇත. කොලම්බියාවේ නීතිවිරෝධි ලෙස වගා කරන කොකා වගා විනාශ කිරීම සඳහා ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ යොදාගැනීම නතර කරන බව පවසා තිබුණේ පසුගිය සතියේ දී ය. ඇමෙරිකාවේ අනුග්‍රහයෙන් ක්‍රියාත්මක මේ මත්ද්‍රව්‍ය විරෝධී වැඩසටහන යටතේ ගුවන් යානා මගින් ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ ඉසීම සිදු කරන ලදි. (ඇමෙරිකාව මේ සඳහා මැදිහත් වන්නේ මේ නීතිවිරෝධී කොකා ශාක යොදාගනිමින් නිපදවන කොකේන් අවසානයේ දී ඇමෙරිකාවට යෑවෙන නිසා ය). ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ සඳහා වෙනත් විකල්පයක්‌ සෙවිය යුතු බව එරට ජනාධිපතිවරයා පෙන්වා දී ඇත. මේ සඳහා ඔවුන් පදනම් කරගෙන ඇත්තේ ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානයේ අනතුරු හැඟවීමයි.

එල් සැල්වදෝරය ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ සම්බන්ධ සීමා කිරීම් සිදු කරන ලද්දේ 2013 වර්ෂයේ දී ය. නෙදර්ලන්තය, පෞද්ගලික භාවිතය සඳහා ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ අලෙවි කිරීම තහනම් කිරීමට පියවර ගෙන ඇති බව ද වාර්තා වූයේ මෑතක දී ය. බ්‍රසීලය වැනි වෙනත් රටවල් ද ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ සීමා කිරීම පිළිබඳව පියවර ගත් බව මින් පෙර වාර්තා වී තිබිණි.

මේ කරුණු සියල්ල විමසා බලන විට අපට පෙනෙන්නේ ග්ලයිපොසේට්‌ යනු තවදුරටත් අවධානය යොමු කළ යුතු රසායන ද්‍රව්‍යයක්‌ බවයි. අනෙක්‌ අතට අපේ රටේ තත්ත්වය සම්බන්ධව ද අවධානයෙන් සිටීම වැදගත් ය. රටේ කිසියම් ප්‍රදේශයක පමණක්‌ මේ රසායන ද්‍රව්‍යය තහනම් කිරීමෙන් එය භාවිතයේ කිසියම් අඩු වීමක්‌ ඇති වේ ද යන ගැටලුව මතු වේ. මේ තත්ත්වය තවදුරටත් විමසා බැලිය යුතු තත්ත්වයකි.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The story of a lost landmark

Dhanesh Wisumperuma

The Nation, 2015-05-09 (Insight)

Chalmers Granaries

Chalmers Granaries were once a well-known landmark in Colombo, or precisely in Pettah. These were a complex of grain stores, situated in the square shaped land surrounded by Olcott Mawatha, Front Street (Malwatta Road), Main Street-Baron Jayathilake Mawatha and the canal between Fort and Pettah. These buildings once served as a granary or a store of imported grain before the distribution within the country.

The granaries functioned for decades, ensuring food security and sanitary food supplies until it was closed down. Chalmers Granaries are now no more as those were demolished few years ago (in 2012, as the Google Earth images show) to make way for modern buildings, yet to be built upon the site.The granary will be forgotten with time, although its name still being mentioned as the name of a place.

The history of this granary complex is not much discussed. Some writers have mentioned that this was built as a precaution against possible rice shortages at the commencement of the World War I. Some have dated its opening to 1916. However, the real facts are different from these, as it was built in respond to a plague and was opened on May 11, 1915, exactly a century ago.

Plague of 1914

The story of the granary begins with a serious plague that affected the country, predominately Colombo, in early 1914. An outbreak of the septeceamic plague, an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Yersinia pestis, that took place from the end of January 1914. Introduced from India, this outbreak caused 401 deaths during that year in the country and went on to cause further deaths in next year. It was prevalent in present Colombo and parts of present Gampaha District and the majority of these deaths were from Colombo Municipality limits. It was mostly confined to the poorer classes of the area, but the commercial sector of the city was also affected. The impact on the harbor was crucial with labourers leaving the harbor, causing delays in shipping.

The British rulers of the country took steps to halt the spread of the disease to other parts of the country. Scientific investigations revealed that a flea was spreading the bacteria that were causing the disease and the host of the flea was rats. An anti-rat campaign was organized by the government and rats were killed by poisoning and trapping. Authorities also considered of unhygienic situation in Colombo rice stores. Sanitary rice stores were prepared instead of private stores, as a temporary measure. The unfinished customs warehouse and the newly built Fort Railway Station were among these temporary sanitary stores. A proper rat-free rice stores was an urgent need under these circumstances. It seems the Racquet Court site in the western end of Pettah was proposed for such a rice store, a granary.

Idea of a granary

The Racquet Court site was discussed at the Legislative Council on July, 27 1914. It seems that it was opposed by some as it was the only recreational ground available for the people living in the area. In addition the traders were of the fear that the government was aiming towards a monopoly in rice storage. Finally the Council passed a motion approving provision to be made for the erection of rice stores in Colombo. The Colonial Secretary also pledged that a committee will be appointed to report on the sites and ancillary measures that can be taken.
Accordingly, a committee was appointed by the Governor Sir Robert Chalmers to consider and report upon the sites and plans for a rice stores in Colombo. It was chaired by Frederick Bowes, the Principal Collector of Customs, and its members included key state officials and Legislative Council members. It had three meetings and in July and August 1914 and examined rice merchants, Health Officer of Colombo Municipality and submitted a report dated August 24th. The Committee recommended the government to erect a central warehouse in the Racquet Court and the adjoining grounds. It also recommended that all rice imported into Colombo should be stored in these buildings, and that no importers or other rice merchants should be allowed to store rice in their own private stores.

The Racquet Court site was the ideal site, as it facilitated easy transport as it was in close proximity to the harbor, railway and Pettah. The Public Works Department was ordered to proceed with its construction by Sir Robert Chalmers, who was the then Governor in Sri Lanka. ( then Ceylon)

This was the beginning of the granary complex, which became to known as ‘Chalmers Granaries’, named after the Governor who ordered its construction.

Rat proof

The construction of the granary complex was commenced in September 1914. The plan was to construct 10 granaries, with a storage capacity to store 500,000 bags of rice. The records say that the granaries were to be constructed with reinforced concrete walls, granite sett paved floors on cement concrete and rubble foundations with the aim of making those as rat proof as possible. Roofs were to be made of poilite iron trusses, and sliding doors were to be finished in corrugated iron. There were wide verandahs around the building and offices too. Railway sidings were to be made to facilitate direct loading of grain. The estimated cost of the scheme was Rs. 1,700,000.

The two sheds to be completed first were opened in the afternoon of May 11, 1915, with an illustrated function. Governor Chalmers was welcomed with honor by the rice merchants of Colombo. After a welcome speech by a Legislative Council Member, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam invited the Governor to open the granary. Chalmers unlocked a silver padlock with a silver key to open a sliding door of a granary shed. After inspecting the shed, he put a quarter bushel of samba rice to auction, measured with a silver quarter bushel measure. A beautiful silver casket was presented to the Governor by the rice merchants, which contained an inscription mentioning of the event. Since the sheds were the ultimate result of the deadly plague, Times of Ceylon reported this event under the headline ‘Seed of sanitary salvation sown by the plague’.

However the entire granary complex was completed only in 1918. The shortage of certain building materials such as cement and cast iron caused a delay in the construction, as the World War I caused problems in shipping. Finding poilite tiles for roofing, expected from Italy, was also a problem caused by the war. Sometimes, alternative materials were used as a substitute until the authorities received expected materials. The prices of the imported materials were higher than usual due to the war, but the Department was able to set off that additional expenditure by obtaining rubble and metal free from the quarry at Ragama, operated under prison labor.

The cost of the construction of Chalmers Granaries is stated at Rs. 1,697,198.67, a little less than the original estimate. The total value of the 9.89 acre land on which it stood was estimated at Rs. 2.967 millions.

A railway line was built to the granary complex, as railway was the principal mode of goods transport in the country at that time.

The name ‘Chalmers Granaries’ was in use as soon as the complex was opened, newspapers mentioning that name within a month of its opening. These granaries provided services for the country for several decades. As per the records it was in use in early 1980s. Finally the unused granary complex was demolished to pave way for a modern land use recently.
Courtesy: Google Earth