Photo courtesy of Buwanaka S. Perera

How can the most ambitious renewable power project in Sri Lanka have this many detrimental impacts on the environment and the local communities of Mannar?

Thambapawani, a derivation of the name after which Sri Lanka was supposedly called by King Vijaya upon his arrival on the island, is the country’s first large scale wind farm, started in 2019 and also known as the Mannar Wind Farm. Thirty wind turbines have already been constructed under Phase 1 of the project, and the unchecked completion of Phase 2 could result in changes to the biodiversity of not just Mannar but all of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka could be living through the last days of seeing the rare Paradise Flycatchers to the droves of Greater Flamingos.

In a country that saw a revolution last year and the fall of a regime that was triggered by power cuts and inadequate electricity supply due to fuel dependency and mismanagement, it is reasonable to welcome a renewable energy project such as Thambapawani. Locals insist that renewable energy isn’t the problem but the careless infrastructures breaking down people’s ways of life and that of the Mannar ecosystem are.

So the question remains as to why we can’t find harmony between development and the environment. The disenfranchised communities’ pleas are always deposited at the bottom of a newspaper or a blog. The damage, both to the environment and the community, will get more attention once the disastrous consequences of the apathy and silence are too big to hide.

Read the full story here.