Politicians in the area silent despite Government authorities trying to shift refuse from Colombo and suburbs to a location bordering Wilpattu National Park
There has been a local uprising, even turning violent in desperation, that it is imminent that the garbage of Colombo and the suburbs is to be disposed in Arawakkadu, an area bordering the Wilpattu National Park.
According to latest reports the garbage is to be transported by road for the moment till such time the rail link is established.
Has there been any study undertaken as to how raw garbage is disposed in countries like Singapore where apparently garbage is first used for the generation of power and then processed and used as land fill. Only 2% of its solid waste is used for landfill while it burns 38% to generate electricity while the balance is recycled.
If Singapore is supposed to be using the residue to reclaim the sea, Sri Lanka has a ready-made solution for landfill with the Port City project.
The purported dump sites are within the area claimed by Holcim and are disused excavation pits which were dug for the extraction of Limestone for the manufacture of cement. The rail network used to transport the Limestone from Arawakkadu to the cement factory at Puttlam is to be used for the transport of the garbage to its sites via Puttlam
A lesson we could have learned is from Malaysia which vastly used the dirty and cheap method of open air landfills to overcome their garbage issues, but now having realised the colossal and irreparable damage caused to ground water sources, soil contamination, air pollution etc and the spread of disease through birds, rodents and insects etc. is taking a cue from Singapore and switching to recycling, generation of electricity and other eco-friendly methods.
The purported dump sites are within the area claimed by Holcim and are disused excavation pits which were dug for the extraction of Limestone for the manufacture of cement.
The rail network used to transport the Limestone from Arawakkadu to the cement factory at Puttlam is to be used for the transport of the garbage to its sites via Puttlam.
The enormous stench and flies etc. which will emanate from this site will affect the thousands of people from the villages of Karaitivu, Gangewadiya, Serakuli, Eluwankulam, Tirikkapallama, Wanathavillu and even the peninsula of Kalpitiya; a popular tourist destination which is only a few kilometres from the site across the Puttlam Lagoon.
This stench which will surely flow across to the Wilpattu sanctuary will draw herds of elephants from the sanctuary to the dumpsite and will certainly cause an elephantine problem and a national wildlife and ecological disaster in the end.
There are over 100 elephants that haunt this vicinity at present and this move would be a definite death knell for all of them and many other wild animals big and small which abound in the area.
The seepage from the garbage dumped into these deep pits with the collection of rain water, will certainly contaminate the adjoining Puttlam Lagoon, the nearby Kala Oya, the several deep water wells and catastrophically the deep underground water channels which will eventually pollute and render unusable the deep water which the people of the area depend on for their survival in addition to the tons of green house gasses that would be released to the atmosphere.
This stench which will surely flow across to the Wilpattu sanctuary will draw herds of elephants from the sanctuary to the dumpsite and will certainly cause an elephantine problem and a national wildlife and ecological disaster in the end
Though several attempts have been made by environmentalist organisations to put a stop to this ill conceived project, it seems that the project is well underway as reported recently. It is still not too late for all concerned wild life enthusiasts and environmentalists to raise a joint voice against this venture which would disturb the tranquillity of the local people and wild life due to garbage entering the area from a different province, a problem ought to be solved within such boundaries from where they emanate.
If the argument of the entities favouring the project are to state that this will not harm the environment nor affect the wildlife of the area etc. since the disposal would be done in a very scientific and methodical manner, let them find a site within their province to avoid the hassle of transport, logistics monitoring etc. at a serene place as far away as Arawakkadu.
If the deep pits at Arawakkadu are eventually used as a dump site the only compromise the residents would come to would be under the condition that the raw garbage is processed in Colombo or someplace in the province and then transported and dumped into the pits in any form totally sans the usual stink and other harmful and polluting effects.
A system termed the Semi-aerobic landfill structure developed and commercialised in Japan was first introduced overseas at an open dump site in Malaysia. This system is now being introduced to countries in Asia such as Malaysia, Pakistan, China, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Samoa, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Italy and many others. If such a system is what is being considered by the authorities there could be some justification after a dialogue with the people of the area.
The people of the villages mentioned are humble fishermen, farmers and small time traders who have no way to voice their opinion whilst most of them are not even aware of the impending disaster which is to befall their communities if the envisaged project is implemented.
It is also very alarming to note that some very vociferous politicians who represent the people of the area have to date not made any significant representation or any agitation to have this impending disaster averted in favour of the very people they represent.