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Solid waste management on firm footing

The Environment and Natural Resources Ministry and the Urban Development Authority will take over the control of the four of Sri Lanka's largest waste dumping sites from respective Municipal Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas in keeping with a Cabinet decision to manage urban solid waste on a firm footing, said Environment and Natural Resources Minister Champika Ranawaka.

He said these steps are being taken to acquire the waste dumping sites at Bloemendhal in Colombo, Karadiyana in Werahera, Pohorawatta in Kalutara, and Gohagoda in Kandy in conformity with a Cabinet decision.

Meanwhile, the Daily News learns that the Urban Development Authority (UDA) has already acquired the famous Kolonnawa garbage dumping site, which they plan to hand over to the Central Environment Authority to address the waste management issues of that area.

Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka said, once the UDA acquires the dumping sites at Bloemendhal, Karadiyana, Pohorawatta and Gohagoda, they would rehabilitate the sites for sustainable management of waste.

The Environment Ministry will commence the rehabilitation of Kolonnawa site within the next few months, he said.

Commenting on the problem of solid waste in Colombo, Ranawaka said , the waste issue in Colombo is not a problem caused by its tax payers, but a problem created by those coming into the city for the latter is responsible for 80 percent of the waste in the city. " They are not tax payers of the city," he pointed out.

"Despite this being the reality, whenever a solution was proposed to address the city's waste disposal problems by having a waste dumping site outside the city, the people outside Colombo have made it a habit to come out against the idea with the rallying cry of "Kolomba Kunu Apita Epa " (We don't need Colombo Waste").

Asked why it seems that the solid waste management in the Municipal Councils appear to be deteriorating, he said that the legal ownership of waste is one of the issues they have to cope with since the ownership and the responsibility to dispose of waste lie with the Municipal Councils and the Pradeshiya Sabhas..

"Two years ago we issued guidelines to the Colombo Municipal Council with regard to disposing and collecting of waste that all waste have to be collected before 6 pm. The Ministry can only stipulate guidelines. Whether to accept them or to act on them is a matter to be decided by them," he explained.

He said, the Colombo Municipal Council has been repeatedly saying that they have signed an agreement with a partner to dispose of waste in Colombo and that we had to wait until it lapses in 2027." .

The biggest issue in dealing with garbage is the lack of landfills, he said.

The politicians have come up to criticize the problem of waste in Colombo.

But neither any Urban Councils nor any governments have allocated an inch of land in Colombo for waste management since the British colonists had allocated a land in Kirulapone for the purpose.

There have been so many mayors for the city of Colombo, but there has not been an inch of land allocated for disposing of waste in the city, he said.

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