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The Western Province and District of Colombo will be saddled with the garbage problem or more broadly the issue of waste management for the coming two and a half years until such time, the mass scale waste management projects in Karadiyana and Muthurajawela will be up and running, the embattled authorities admitted.

The Waste Management Authority (Western Province) admitted that although all the garbage generated in the Western Province was not being collected, garbage was, however, being collected in public areas and therefore requested the public to be patient.
Director of the Authority, M.M. Nalin R.C. Mannapperuma noted that the local authorities needed the assistance of the public including all stakeholders.

“This is a problem. Since the Meethotamulla catastrophe, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is facing the issue of there being no proper final disposal. Thus far, we are in the process of addressing the matter and until such time, the local authorities will have to dump the garbage somewhere. However in Muthurajawela, there are protests against the dumping. Bloemendhal is defunct. The moment one starts any construction in relation to this issue, everywhere the public protests. There is no other solution. We have identified locations right now as possible, potential sites to be used to dump garbage until facilities pertaining to mass scale waste management projects are put up and they are started. Small sites will have to be used. There is no place available in Colombo,” he explained.
There are 25 dumping sites in the Western Province of different scales – small, medium and mass scale (Bloemendhal, Karadiyana {was acquired by the Authority in 2010} and Meethotamulla). According to Mannapperuma, there was no more danger at Meethotamulla, however a lot environmental consequences such as leaching prevailed. He added that major attention should be paid to the mass scale dumping sites. Bloemendhal is not an active dumping site. The Urban Development Authority (UDA) rehabilitates the latter.

“The UDA will be rehabilitating Meethotamulla. Karadiyana is maintained as a dumping site where the activities are controlled within a 500 metres (m) radius from the site and thus far 3 million MTs of waste has been dumped. No dumping of hazardous waste is allowed. We spray deodorants to repel odours. We monitor the leaching and the biochemical oxygen demand level in the surrounding water bodies,” he added.

The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, according to Mannapperuma, as part of waste management plans to be executed, are looking to use land in Muthurajawela to compost 300 metric tonnes (MTs) of perishable waste. Yet, this has been thwarted, he said, due to angry protestors.

According to Mannapperuma, in 2011, the Government had attempted with a private partner to convert 500 MTs of waste to energy per day, yet this project had not materialized.

Several meetings have since been held at the President’s office including economic review committee meetings chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (including one that took place this week) with regard to solving the present garbage related problem.
Mannapperuma said that high level and top level decisions including at the Presidential level would have to be taken and relevant rules and regulations in this regard would have to be enforced.

Wickremesinghe had at the said meeting held on June 21 inquired into the present state of the schedules pertaining to the said mass scale projects, and their ongoing progress, and called for their expeditious development.

“These are massive and therefore not simple matters. This is the problem. The Karadiyana project costs USD/$ 73 million and will take a maximum of two and a half years to be operational,” Mannapperuma further said.

Karadiyana is presently managed and maintained as a controlled dump site, meaning that all possible steps have been taken to ensure that consequences are addressed and reduced. Such was not the case with Meethotamulla which in turn was an open dumping site. The municipalities only accept solid waste for dumping in Karadiyana. No hazardous waste is accepted. The authorities also conduct monitoring activities within a 500m radius from the dumpsite as members of the general public are living in the immediate vicinity. The authorities also apply regular treatment with regard to problems arising at the site due to the odour, and flies and roaches infesting the area. Approximately 40 persons including around five graduates have been employed to manage the site.

The Waste Management Authority (Western Province) explained that a waste management plaza would be established at the Karadiyana controlled garbage disposal site, with the onsite projects including facilities for converting perishable waste to compost, recycling garbage and waste to energy conversion plants.

Mannapperuma said that a Karadiyana Resources Management Centre would be established, under which there would be a project unit pertaining to public relations which in turn would monitor and mitigate health and environment related consequences.
The waste to compost project plant has already been established and is under operation, and converts 50 MTs per day. The compost is being marketed and promoted as Karadiyana Mihisaru Compost, producing 80 to 90 to 100 MTs of compost a month.
The recycling project will deal with 25 MTs per day. The recycling structure has also been established, but the machines are to be donated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency only in August.

The waste to energy project will handle 500 MTs a day. “A developer has already been selected. The developer is Fairway Holdings Private Limited. Before May 31, the agreement between the Authority and the Company will be endorsed. Chief Minister of the Western Province, Isura Devapriya will be closely monitoring the matter. It will take two years for them to complete the construction. By 2020, it will be available to process 500 MTs,” Mannapperuma noted.

Elsewhere, he also highlighted the need to manage all environmental consequences in the process and thereby address public concerns.

He pointed out the need for the public to take responsibility regarding the matter by reducing the amount of garbage dispatched outside for removal by the authorities and in line with the Governmental programme where 500 MTs are collected per day from seven local authorities (including Dehiwala, Moratuwa, Homagama, Maharagama, Kesbewa and Kotte), by at least 30% to 40%, by way of at least starting home gardening and composting perishable waste, thereby supporting the Government at this stage.
Previously, Nation reported that the Waste Management Authority (Western Province) was at loggerheads with the CMC over a cash for trash programme.

Addressing the question of a centralized authority to look at all aspects of the process, he emphasized that although there must be one central authority for policy making which was the Central Government, Provincial master plans for the Provincial Councils, and action plans for the Provincial level authorities, such had yet not taken place.

“The Central Government is not required for the implementation. Waste management comes under the Local Government (pradeshiya sabhas, urban councils and municipal councils). The 13th Amendment to the Constitution totally devolved powers pertaining to such to the Local Government and the Provincial Councils. It is Provincial level authorities that must implement. The Waste Management Authority (Western Province) is formulating and preparing five action plans for the local authorities that come under it,” he elaborated.
He also pointed out that the CMC was not listening to the Waste Management Authority (Western Province) with regard to implementing a, cash for trash programme, urgently.
“They are not willing to implement it. We will go public through the media with the plan for the said programme and hopefully pressure the Council to implement this urgently,” he further added.

Colombo Municipal Commissioner, V.K.A. Anura was not available for a comment.