By Sandun A. Jayasekera
Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said certain interested groups attempted to create another solid waste dump at Muthurajawela without the approval of the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA).
He said this while addressing a ceremony held on Wednesday at Meethotamulla to launch the city park and a tree planting campaign. “It is depressing to note that these people will do the impossible to earn a few extra bucks by putting the lives of people at risk. They have forgotten that 34 lives were lost when the Meethotamulla solid waste dump collapsed on April 14, 2017 as a result of their greediness, shortsightedness and the lack of a proper solid waste disposal mechanism. Who can guarantee that another tragedy of this sort will not happen if we continue to act this way?” he questioned. Adding to this, he said there were more than 300 solid waste dumping sites unattended by any local government, political or government authority thereby creating eyesores and polluting the environment.
“That is precisely why the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry assumed responsibility to arrive at a sustainable solution to the national solid waste disposal problem. We have a sustainable, futuristic and scientific plan to resolve this issue. Our earnest request to the general public and local government bodies is to follow the instructions of the NHDA and the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the responsibility for the loss of lives and property following the Meethotamulla disaster must be borne by those who amassed millions of rupees from the solid waste dump, who dumped garbage at Meethotamulla and those who dealt with companies that got contracts for solid waste collection in the city and transported them to Meethotamulla. But they all looked the other way when the issue of providing relief to victims of the solid waste dump collapse disaster came up, he said. “Owing to a delay in receiving foreign aid, the NHDA reached out to the Treasury for funds to clear the Meethotamulla dump. However, the NHDA decided to develop the site using its own funds. Had the NHDA sold the land, it could have earned billions of rupees. It is unfortunate that no one responsible for the Meethotamulla tragedy has been punished yet. When solid waste collected from the city of Colombo was taken elsewhere for disposal, the public with the support of religious leaders and NGOs said they did not want rubbish from Colombo. But no one gave them a solution to this problem. We have a comprehensive plan for solid waste disposal. It is a hygienic and secure initiative.
It is depressing to note that these people will do the impossible to earn a few extra bucks by putting the lives of people at risk