Since the tragedy in Meethotamulla, several issues have arisen over the management of solid waste.Obstructions in the disposal of garbage from Colombo is one of the key issues.
The Urban Commissioner said, around 150 to 200 metric tonnes of garbage is collected daily during this period due to the Sinhala and Tamil new year and school holidays.
A portion of this garbage was to be disposed at the garbage recycling plant in Dompe, on Thursday, April 20, when it was obstructed by a group including the former Chairman of Dompe.
However, the police attempted to control the protest.
Nine garbage trucks of the Colombo Municipal Council which arrived were obstructed by the protesters.The Police Special Task Force were also dispatched for the assistance of the police as a tense situation erupted.
Even by this evening, the group had not allowed the garbage to be disposed.
UNP Parliamentarian Harshana Rajakaruna speaking on the issue said:
“It is disappointing to see some of the people who gave leadership to the protests today. They were the ones who gave leadership to dispose the garbage here in Kirindiwela, Dompe. The former Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman and the group who led these protests were powerful members of the government at the time. Some were Chief Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Ministers and some were Chairpersons of Pradeshiya Sabhas. The recycling plant was brought to Dompe back then amidst our objection. So, after taking the first step to bring the recycling plant to Dompe, today they are leading protests against the disposal of garbage here. All that they are trying to do is to gain political mileage through this”.
A protest was also staged close to the Thurai Bridge in Ja-Ela today, April 20, against plans to dispose garbage from Colombo in the Muthurajawela area.
The Police Special Task Force was dispatched to the location.
Meanwhile, several garbage trucks which arrived at the Karadiyana garbage dump were turned back.The issue of waste management is beginning to spread across every part of the country.
An estimate of 3,500 metric tonnes of garbage is collected daily from the Western Province alone.This is 58% of the total collection of garbage from the entire country.
Local government bodies collect just 2,400 metric tonnes of garbage.
Around 15% of the garbage collected are used to manufacture compost while 10% is recycled.
The remaining 75% is disposed in open areas.65% to 66% of the country’s solid waste in urban areas are bio-degradable and carbonic nature.
Dr. Mallika Pinnawala (University of Peradeniya)speaking on the matter said:
“The primary issue is that people are unaware of this. The people need to be aware that garbage is something manufactured by ourselves. So we need to manage our waste. Both sides must be held accountable for this. There is a responsibility among the people as well as the authorities tasked with managing garbage. For example, we tell the public to separate their garbage, but when it is collected they are taken all together in one bunch. This breaks the trust of the people”.
Meanwhile, Patali Champika Ranawaka (Minister of Megapolis and Western Development) said:
“This has to be made an essential service and to put a stop to this tug of war, a central waste management authority must come into effect. The main cities like Colombo, Kotte, Kolonnawa, Dehiwala and Moratuwa are the ones which possess the most severe issues. Then there is Kandy. There is a massive mound of garbage in Guhagoda. There is also a garbage mound in Gampola. Garbage is dumped in the Mahaweli River and further downriver, water is collected for Kandy for its consumption. So this is the reality and it has to be controlled. Even in Galle and Matara, there may not be garbage dumps as big as this, but they are considerably large. So we kindly request everyone to stop using the phrase ‘we do not need Colombo’s garbage’ instead let us all resolve the garbage crisis in Colombo together. Let’s make this an essential service where a central authority will manage the garbage of all the main cities. It is difficult for the Pradeshiya Sabhas, Urban Councils, Provincial Councils and Ministries to do this”.