India begins airlift of fertilizer
a year ago
By Asiri Fernando Two Indian Air Force (IAF) heavy lift aircraft are expected to arrive this evening with the first consignment of fertilizer ordered by the Government, The Morning learns. According to Government sources, two IAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft will arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport this evening with the first stock. Several such flights by IAF aircraft are expected this week, as the Government scrambles to mitigate the impact of their controversial and sudden policy change on the use of chemical fertilizer. The ban on the use and import of chemical fertilizer remains despite ongoing protest by farmers. Farmers, industry experts and Opposition politicians have warned that the policy change by the Government is Ill-advised, and will push farmers further in to poverty, and may cause a food shortage. The Government has recently released a limited stock of chemical fertilizer that were in warehouses, for the use by selected groups of farmers. However, the Government has stood firm on the change, arguing that in the long term it may lead to a more healthy and an environmentally friendly nation. The ‘airlift’ of fertilizer by the Indian Air Force comes following a diplomatic request by the Sri Lankan Government, sources close to the issue said. Meanwhile, two C-130 heavy lift aircraft of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) remain grounded at Katunayake Air Force base, awaiting overhaul and maintenance. The SLAF’s airlift capability has been lacking with both heavy lift assets grounded due to poor defence policy prioritisation over the last decade. The gap in airlift capability has affected the ability for the SLAF to effectively respond to national crises and perform search and rescue operations in Sri Lanka’s area of responsibility in the Indian Ocean.