Following moves to collect segregated garbage from households and institutions island-wide, the government has also collaborated with the police to nab members of the public who indulge in unauthorized dumping of litter.

The new measurers also mean no one can discard paper or polythene bags on a bare land on the side of the road or light a cigarette and throw the butt away in public.

Police officers in civilian clothing are to be deployed to arrest persons who engage in unauthorized garbage dumping, the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government said.

Garbage has now become a menace, not only for the people, but also for the authorities who are yet to find a permanent solution to dispose the garbage collected.

Several attempts were made in the past to streamline garbage collection. However, all these moves were futile due to several practical issues that the authorities faced in implementing the system.

Protests by residents and environmentalists and other logistical issues had also delayed the process of finding a permanent solution to the waste disposal issue.

This time however, the government has made sure that the change comes from the people themselves.

“It is a change that needs to be adopted. It is high time that we as responsible citizens take an effort to segregate the waste and help the collectors to do their job,” said Winston, a resident of Wellawatte.

“The public would need some more information in order to get more knowledge on the process, since this is something new.

“Garbage has become a menace especially during the rainy season. The unauthorized and irresponsible manner in which garbage is dumped creates an unhealthy environment when roads and drains are flooded. It is also important for the authorities to implement a system to ensure these drains are not blocked,” he added.

Meanwhile, Media Secretary to the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Amila Balasooriya said that in some of the 23 Municipal Councils in the country, the collection of segregated garbage had begun.

But residents also queried whether the trucks were equipped to collect the separated garbage.

Balasooriya said that while some garbage trucks have the capacity to hold bio degradable waste separate from non-biodegradable waste, others do not.  “In such cases notice will be given to the people that on a particular day of the week only degradable waste would be collected while on another day only non-biodegradable waste would be collected,” he explained.

On the other hand, the Ministry has also identified the need for an awareness campaign among the public on this issue. The local authorities have issued instructions to households and institutions on the new methodology in garbage collection.

Balasooriya added that an awareness campaign was underway. “Right now, an awareness campaign regarding the process by way of the distribution of leaflets, media advertisements and loudspeaker announcements has commenced,” said Balasooriya. “Police officers, the military and labourers from the Municipal Councils are involved in this”.

Every month, the Ministry will conduct a progress review with the participation of municipal commissioners and also look at practical issues that arise in the process, Balasooriya pointed out.

“Police hotlines such as 119 and a separate hotline to the Environmental Police have been given to the public to provide information regarding anyone illegally dumping garbage. A separate officer will be appointed to the Municipal Council to coordinate the collection of information and the provision of the said information to the Police,” Balasooriya said.

“The new process regarding garbage collection will be introduced to Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas also. It is expected that 50 to 60 per cent of the non-biodegradable waste will become reduced because of this. Private companies are willing to recycle
non-biodegradable waste,” he further said.

Meanwhile, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) pointed out that this concept of waste separation was initially introduced by the CEA in 2007. Project Coordinator of the CEA’s Pilisaru project, Bandula Sarath Kumara told Nation that the CEA had provided the basic infrastructure facilities to the local government bodies to segregate garbage by installing compost units.

“We installed 130 composting facilities for this purpose,” Kumara said. “The policy framework that was implemented by us works as a platform for the current garbage segregation programme adopted by the authorities.

“The CEA will monitor the process and identify the loopholes and issues in order to ensure that it is effective in the long run”, added Kumara.
Pic by Sassanda Liyanarachchi