What is this wet zone and dry zone argument in Srilanka

by Dr Rifai

(August 06, London, Sri Lanka guardian) I have been reading some articles on this subject recently in some Lankan news papers: Some people feel that they live in a dry zone and they think that they live in a geographically deprived land compared to people who live in wet zone ( in the south). It is peculiar to read these arguments in relation to prevailing ethnic and political tensions and crises : it looks that now we blame our geography for human made problems: It is a historical event that Sinhalese race inhabited the south of Island of Srilanka while Tamil inhabited Northeast of Srilanka: It happened coincidently in the history of human migration in our Indian subcontinent: Had our ancestors known this dry zone and wet zone argument in olden time definitely they would have settled in wet zone only and North would be now uninhabited areas of Srilanka and we would not have this ethnic problem now:

I firmly believe that this human migration of Tamil into Northeast and of Sinhalese into South was a historical coincident that happened beyond human control: Historical evident supports that Singhalese race migrated into south from North east of India while Tamil from South India There is no point in going back in history and trace all these habitation zone now. We can not blame our ancestors for setting down in dry zone now. This is a historical fact we have accept it as it is whether we like it or not. We can provide historical and geographical interpretation for our current problems but it would not solve our problems: we have to be more pragmatic than creating polemic argument:

In each and every country we see this geographical disparity in landscape: some areas are greenery with fertile lands and some other areas are barren land with some desert: This is nature of world geography and luckily Northeast land is neither barren nor desert but land in Northeast is very fertile and indeed, fertile rice producing land is in the Northeast districts: I do not agree with this argument to say that people who live in Wet zone are economically better off than people who live in dry zone: When we talk about dry zone and wet zone disparity it looks like that some people think that people in wet zone are more advantageous in securing job opportunities and good quality of life: I disagree with such arguments for many reasons: Firstly, most of natural resources of Srilanka are in Dry zone: it may look odd to say this but it is true geographical fact: Most parts of Northeast are surrounded by sea resources and hence they have access to sea resources and most parts of land in Northeast are fertile for rice and crops cultivation: Fertile lands in Mnanar, Baticaloa and Apmpara districts alone could produce rice to feed entire Srilanka: Moreover, Most of cattle farming is done by the people in the Northeast: while people in south own a small proportion land people in dry zone own acres of lands: because of these, people in Northeast get more employment opportunities: I could argue that more people are unemployed in districts of Kurunaga, Anuradhapura, Polannaruwa, Matala, Kegalle, Badulla, Nuwara-Eliya and Ratnapura than Northeast districts: if we do a through statistic on unemployment ratio of these districts I’m sure that more people will be unemployed in these districts than Northeast districts: It is a myth to simply say that if you live in wet zone you are prosperous.

How and why do I say this: because, people in the Northeast have access to all these natural recourse but people in the south do not have such access to the natural resources: We have more Tamil fishermen in Srilanka than Muslims and Sinhalese fishermen. I too partially agree to say that Tamil resorted to education for their survival: However, they had good opportunities to education under Christian missionaries: that is one of the reasons that they could secured good job opportunities: whether people live in dry zone or wet zone it does not matter if people work hard they could secure decent life standard in our modern world: I too agree that development programmes are hindered in the Northeast provinces since independence: Successive Srilankan governments paid their attention and consideration to develop greenery south and neglected Northeast for long time: It is now high time to Srilankan governments to rectify their past mistake and take progressive step to develop Northeast in earnest . So that people in Northeast would live in prosperity: finally, I do not see much logic in relating dry zone and wet zone argument in relation to prevailing ethnic and political crisis in Srilanka.
- Sri Lanka Guardian