Editorial- island.lk

April 20, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Grasp the nettle!


There is hardly anything that Sri Lankan politicians do not fight over. They get on like a house on fire only when public funds are misused to feather their nests. At present they are hurling rotting garbage at one another, so to speak, instead of putting their heads together to help solve the Meethotamulla garbage issue. It looks as if they were competing with one another to set a new world record by holding the most number of media briefings. Some of them are trying to settle old scores. They seem to have taken the masses for asses.

Interestingly, the ‘promising’ politicians who took the Meethotamulla people for a ride by undertaking to have the landfill, troubling them, shifted, and won the last general election with their votes, haven’t been sighted anywhere near the disaster site during the last few days. Were they near the garbage dump when it collapsed or are they scared of facing the irate public?


Ironically, those who flayed the Rajapaksa government for deploying the military personnel to clean canals and wayside drains have had to use them to dig a huge, stinking waste dump and protect garbage trucks against protesters.


Following the April 14 disaster in Meethotamulla people are taking to the streets to prevent the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) from dumping garbage in their areas. Their concerns need to be appreciated. The CMC has a remarkable ability to create a huge landfill anywhere almost overnight and nobody wants to get buried alive in a ‘garbageslide’. At this rate, the government may have to take out the security forces to ensure the protection of municipal workers engaged in garbage disposal!


The closure of the Meethotamulla dump has led to garbage piling up in the city and CMC is now using alternative sites to dump its waste. It is not possible to solve the garbage problem overnight and waste cannot be allowed to accumulate in Colombo; the CMC’s desperation is understandable. Until a permanent solution is found garbage has to be dumped somewhere whether one likes it or not. But, if the CMC is allowed to dump waste at Karadiyana, the entire Bolgoda Lake will be polluted like Beira. People living in areas adjacent thereto have been complaining of an unbearable stench and they has already started protesting.


Joint Opposition firebrand and former CMC Opposition Leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara, told the media on Tuesday that Colombo’s garbage problem couldn’t be solved because of some racketeers thriving on municipal waste. He said those elements by greasing the palms of politicians and bureaucrats put paid to all efforts to solve the issue. He is telling the truth. These rogues have made a very lucrative business out of garbage and will go any extent to scuttle plans to get rid of mountains of waste. It behoves President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Minister of Environment, to have these serious allegation probed and bring the culprits to book. Neutralising the kunu (waste) Mafia will be half the battle in solving the garbage problem. Are the yahapalana leaders equal to the task?


There is no way either the UNP or the SLFP can absolve itself of the responsibility for having created the garbage problem. The UNP-SLFP coalition should seriously consider summoning Parliament and appointing a presidential task force to study the issue and proposed solutions, ascertain views of experts, both local and foreign, and figure out how to deal with the problem effectively.


The time has come to grasp the nettle.