ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 28

Millions dumped in muck

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Hold your nose as we tell you one of the dirtiest stories of how elected local councils in Colombo and the Western Province spend hundreds of millions of rupees for the transport and collection of garbage without a proper plan to utilise it and instead allowing it to further pollute the environment including waterways.

According to the findings of the Environment Ministry, in 2006, local bodies in the Western Provincial Council had spent Rs. 1.2 billion on the collection, dumping and disposal of garbage at their various sites, while the Colombo Municipal Council pays Rs. 16 million a month for privately owned garbage dumps.

The per capita release from municipal limits is around 0.6-1.3kgs for the town and urban councils is around 0.01-0.9kgs. From the total of 330 local bodies island wide 60% of the garbage is generated by the Western Province. Of the entire garbage collected, 56% is contributed by the municipal councils, 14% by the urban councils and the balance 30% by the Pradeshiya Sabhas.

Environment Minister Champika Ranawake charged that the garbage dumps in Colombo were in the control of the underworld. He said Ministry officials received death threats when they visited these dumps. The Colombo Municipal Council collects 700 tons of garbage for disposal a day, which is 25% of the total garbage collected from local bodies. The CMC pays Rs.628 for every ton of garbage similarly collected and disposed. The Dehiwala Mount Lavinia and Moratuwa Municipal Councils have a garbage collection of 150 tons a day.

Out of the 330 local bodies only four of them are disposing garbage that would result in an end-product benefit. The rest dispose garbage in the traditional way, which is to resort to landfill. This causes pollution of waterways and the methane gas that contaminates the atmosphere, is the main contributor of greenhouse effect more than carbon dioxide.

Another startling finding is that 20 tons of toxic material is added to garbage annually. consequent to various institutions importing such items. This high percentage creates resistance to garbage decay. Amidst all the stink, the Thamankaduwa Pradeshya Sabha is the only local body that processes garbage into biogas with locally-improvised technology while Weligama, Balangoda, Vavuniya UCs and the Balangoda Pradeshiya Sabha process garbage into compost successfully.

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