|The ADB Project for Wildlife: "Red Herrings" no
longer on Endangered List!
Iwas saddened to read in the letter published in "The Island" of 26/12/01 of the many and varied ways in which we Sri Lankans have been duped in the course of this ADB project...and this, mind you, before the project is even properly functional! The people have a right to expect better from those in charge.
We are told that the Project Director, Jayantha Jayewardene, had earlier, as chairperson of the Conservation Sub-Committee of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife, actually recommended to Her Excellency the President that this project should be renegotiated. Why? Because, in his considered view, it was not in the best interests of conservation in Sri Lanka. That being so, I feel strongly that Mr. Jayewardene has a duty to all Sri Lankans to explain why, and in what circumstances, he came not merely to ignore his own recommendation but, worse still, apply for and accept the post of Project Director, no less.
Unless a satisfactory explanation is forthcoming, how can the public retain any trust in the value of this project and in the honesty and transparency of the project-team? Can one be blamed for supposing that making a nuisance of oneself initially can sometimes be a rewarding pastime?
The ADB undertaking is a "pilot project", in that it is meant to test the efficacy of the proposed programs, strategies and methodologies and use the experience and knowledge gained thereby to ensure that the main project, to follow on from it, is implemented properly. But in the case of this pilot project, however, not one, not two, but seven of the countrys major national parks, are being used for the initial test.
I dont believe Im being overly cautious when I call this foolhardy in the extreme. Why the need to experiment on such a massive scale? What we have to remember is that, regardless of success or failure, the members of the foreign donor agencies who drew up the project have nothing to lose either way. These parks are part of our heritage, not theirs. The only thing we can be sure of is that, finally, the Sri Lankan taxpayer will be called upon to meet the bill.
Right now, when there is so much talk by our leaders about good governance and the
eradication of corruption, I hope Her Excellency the President and the Minister in charge
of environment will fully investigate this matter and safeguard the interests of the Sri
Lankan public and ultimately protect our wildlife.
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