Garbage has been an issue not only for Sri Lanka, but for the entire world. The garbage should be utilised in a useful manner, so that it would no longer be a nuisance to the society. It is evident that different countries have come up with productive methods in their efforts to turn waste into resources. In that perspective, Sri Lanka is far behind.
Sri Lanka generates around 6400 tons of waste per day. 3700 tons of waste are thrown away at road sides. Colombo municipal area alone generates around 700 tons of waste per day. The Sri Lankan Government annually spends roughly around Rs 3 billion on solid waste management.
It is noteworthy that the Central Environment Authority (CEA), under the project called ‘Pilisaru’, which was introduced as a National Solid Waste Management programme in 2008, is aimed at finding a solution to tackle waste mismanagement.
The construction of low cost sanitary landfills for disposing residual waste was a key activity of ‘Pilisaru’ project.
Sanitary landfills are sites where waste is isolated from the environment until it is safe. The authorities refocus on it when it is considered that the garbage has completely degraded biologically, chemically and physically.
Sanitary landfill is a method where municipal solid waste (refuse) on land is subject to controlled disposal. The method was introduced in England in 1912; where it is called controlled tipping.
Waste is deposited in thin layers (up to 1 metre, or 3 feet) and promptly compacted by heavy machinery (e.g., bulldozers). Several layers are placed and compacted on top of each other to form a refuse cell (up to 3 metres, or 10 feet, thick).
At the end of each day the compacted refuse cell is covered with a layer of compacted soil to prevent odours and windblown debris.
A landfill comprises systems like Liner system-which is called Leachate collection & treatment system, Cap system- which is Gas recovery system or flaring system and Landscaping- which is Groundwater & gas monitoring system.
The CEA with the technical and financial assistance from the Korean International Corporation Agency (KOICA) introduced the first-ever sanitary landfill in Sri Lanka at Dompe which is a great achievement in terms of utilising waste management.
The KOICA provided $ 4.5 million as a grant to establish this fully engineered state- of-the-art sanitary landfill in Dompe in the Gampaha District. A commercial forest plantation of Acacia and Pinus in Maligawatte, owned by the Forest Department, was selected as the site for the landfill.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Manager (Operational) Central Environmental Authority ‘Green Park’ Sanitary Landfill Site Kirindiwela Dompe, U.W.A. Jayathilaka told that the initial programme on the construction of a landfill, was planned in 2009.
“The site was planned to embark in Meepe in 2009. However, we had to shift it elsewhere due to some technical issues and continuous protest by people.
“Then, we selected an area at Dompe as the ideal location for the site. It was not that much easier in Dompe too. At the outset, residents around the Dompe area staged protest marches claiming that putting up such a site, would affect their livelihood in terms because of stench and other environmental issues.
We were able to convince the people in Dompe that the new technology used for garbage disposal is not related to conventional garbage dumping; where mountains of garbage pile up which in turn encourages public participation for the project in large numbers,’’ Jayathilaka added.
He said they organised public awareness programmes due to enormous public protests which were against the proposed sanitary landfill site at Dompe. 60 pocket meetings and 8 special Pilisaru Parisara Gammana Programmes were conducted at Dompe area to make the people aware of the advantage of such a site being located at Dompe.
The first long-term project by the CEA was initiated by constructing a sanitary landfill in Dompe. This pilot project was begun due to emergency needs to dispose garbage using a one hectare land. Although the project was ready for operation in 2009 and the landfill started functioning officially only in 2015 due to public protests in the area.
Jayathilaka said the landfill site at Dompe was a pilot project which would provide the incentive to generate other landfill stations in Districts such as Puttalam, Jaffna, Anuradhapura, Galle and Polonnaruwa.
He said that tenders would be called by the end of this year following which construction would commence. The landfills are expected to be put to use by 2020.
“The landfill site has the capacity to take in 25-30 tones of waste per day. It would take 12 years for the pit to completely fill,” Jayathilaka said.
“It was first planned to load 90 tones of waste per day. If it was done, the pit would have been filled within six years. In order to make it more productive, we reduced the amount of waste being loaded into the pit,” he added.
He said that the waste collected in six local authorities in the Gampaha District would be used for filling.
In conclusion, it should be noted that utilising waste materials is not an easy task. It can’t be done overnight.
The efforts of the administration are also not enough. It is necessary to have the active support of the general public. If these two parties join, the waste would no longer become waste to the society.
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