Tuesday, April 12, 2016



We have learned that the former Director General of the Wildlife Department has been removed as he was against dumping garbage in Arruwakkaru. We believe that he has done his duty as a responsible officer.  Undoubtedly dumping colombo garbage in Arruwakkalu is a wrong concept.
The proposed land for dumping Colombo Garbage is located about 170 km away form Colombo and within the  Weerakulicholei- Eluwankulam proposed forest reserve. It is a land that is leased by the Forest Department to Puttalam cement Corporation. Leasing out the said land to Holcim is already an illegal act. Similarly, dumping of garbage in the said land is also illegal.
The proposed project is for open dumping of 1200 tons of unsorted garbage collected from the CMC area daily in Arruwakkaru old limestone mine of the Puttalam cement plant. In our opinion, the project objective should be how better manage the metropolitan garbage and not how to deal with the Meethotamulla garbage dump. In such a case, there are many other alternatives to this project.  

Sri Lanka generates more than 3000 tons of garbage daily, which is not only polluting Meethotamulla, but also over 300 locations in the country. This needs a much more different waste management policy which include the principles of “avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle” and sanitary landfill as found in the other middle-income countries and developed countries. Such a policy should include, awareness, separation of garbage at the generation point, introduction of extended producer responsibility, introducing and establishing all possible recycling facilities etc. If government can introduce such a policy, Sri Lanka can easily adopt zero waste strategies.

The project is located within one mile of the Wilpattu National park. The Wilpattu National Park (WNP) is situated on the east of the landfill site at a distance of about 300 m. The establishment of the proposed landfill site in such a close vicinity to an important and popular National Park, which is also an International Ramsar Wetland Conservation site seems to be more problematic. It needs  permission from  the Director General of the Department of Wildlife. Therefore, considering the importance of this national park, Ramsar Wetland this project is not feasible.

Transporting the unsorted, Colombo waste problem 170 km away from the city is not a solution at all.  According to the EIA, with necessary compaction, this garbage will be transferred to 20 feet containers at Meethotamulla Transfer Station, and then those containers will be transported to Aruwakkalu by train, using the existing railway line from Kolonnawa to Aruwakkalu via Puttalam. The waste containers will be unloaded at Aruwakkalu unloading station and transferred to the landfill site. This project seriously needs a cost estimate and an extended cost benefit analysis. This EIA is lacking both of these analyses.

Normal train transport of goods are approximately Rs. 925 per kilometer for a wagon with 45 tonnes capacity.  This project will transport 1200 MT daily, which is approximately 27 wagons a day.  It will cost (Rs. 925 x 170 km x 27  wagons)which is Rs. 4,245,750 a day. Therefore, the transport cost along will be 1,550 million Rupees per year. The project developers have failed to study this factor and this is a clear abuse of the public funds. Further, Metropolitan garbage contains  highly recyclable material. Although we don’t have figures, we believe that the annual dumping will value few thousands of millions Rupees. Such a value only can be shown in an extended cost benefit analysis.

The Holcim quarry site is also noted for its archaeological significance, as it supports a fossil belt belonging to the Miocene period mostly found invertebrate fossils. According to Rajeeve Yapa and others, Sri Lanka’s northern Tertiary deposit is vast, composed of fossiliferous limestone that hosts fossils dating to the Miocene and late Pleistocene. Surveys by early explorers recovered fossils of both invertebrates and vertebrates, of which the latter are considered important because the earliest vertebrate fossils found in Sri Lanka date to the Miocene (Deraniyagala, (1969b). Holicim is already destroying this archeological museum by blasting the lime stone for cement industry.

The dumping of waste will be on the lime stone quarry mine with high permeability. The impermeable layer does not give a hundred present assurance of damage according to the EIA. It may brake due to the blasting in the Holcim mining site. Therefore, if the leachate leaked to the aquifer it will destroy the ground water table.  More importantly, Tabbowa- Wavathavillu aquifer which is the best and the largest fresh water aquifer in Sri Lanka will be under threat of contamination. The proposed project is fundamentally wrong approach to the sustainable waste management solution for Sri Lanka.  There is a high possibility of destroying the Arruwakkaru dumping site and the railroad from Kolonnawa to Arruwakkaru due to the leachate.

As we know the former UDA officer Rohan Senevirathne serving under then Secretary Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakshe insisted the EML consultant not to include any alternative  when producing the EIA.  We have learned that the original EIA has mentioned the possible alternatives to the problem. 

Mr. Prime Minister,

Colombo garbage can be easily handle if you involve the public who are responsible for generating garbage.  Introducing zero waste policies, Managing recycling industry, introducing Extended Producer Responsibility, banning polythene, you can reduce the garbage problem and save millions of public funds you will be dumping in Arruwakkalu and along the railway line. You must manage garbage within the city and please do not pollute remote wildlife parks or community lands. (END)

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