Photo courtesy of Tharmapalan Tilaxan
A road is cut through the Sinharaja World Heritage Site forest with the approval of the president, illegal trawling in Puttalam is destroying fish stocks, elephants die painful deaths eating garbage dumped across the country, the Anavilundawa wetland sanctuary is bulldozed overnight for prawn farming, 90 percent of Sri Lanka’s corals are dead, sand is mined continuously for mega projects; the list just goes on and on as the country heads for environmental ruin.
Devastating examples of the environmental degradation throughout Sri Lanka have been powerfully documented by a group of young photographers currently exhibiting their work, titled Humanity & Earth, at the Lionel Wendt Art Centre, supported by the Goethe Institut.
Over the course of two years, the photographers – Tashiya de Mel, Munira Mutaher, Shehan Obeysekera, Ramanathan Parilojithan, Sandranathan Rubatheesan and Tharmapalan Tilaxan – explored concepts of the environmental and climate crisis and its socio-cultural implications through their visual stories.
Some of the issues covered by the photographers include the impact of dumping garbage and medical waste along the Batticaloa lagoon, the lives of villagers living on the edge of a forest, how dumping garbage affects the people of a Jaffna village, the consequences of hydropower expansion on the Mahaweli river and the massive destruction of our habitat in the name of development.
“No other beings on Earth other than human beings have caused such a devastating massive destruction to our natural habitat in the name of development in recent history. Humans, like other beings, depend on Earth for daily survival but they dig their own grave slowly but steadily by disturbing the natural habitat equilibrium. At last, they would become the ultimate dust, buried in the sand or mixed in water and air,” writes Sandranathan Rubatheesan.
Here are some of the photographs on display: