By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
For Sri Lanka waste handling and management has been a widely discussed subject. There have been several disagreements, disputes and debates surrounding the issue. It has cost many human lives flaring up in most inhuman manner. Shocking news of a mountain of waste devastating a whole area of residential houses causing a death toll of over one hundred human lives just less than two years ago, was seen as its latest culmination.
The incident spurred many actions and programs which are yet to see the light of day. The speed and the momentum that was built up in the wake of the Kolonnawa episode as public concern appear to be decelerating. Is the matter going to rest composed as it was before the explosion! Plans said to be on the way are unfortunately gestating through long periods.
Continuation of the state of affairs and perhaps a “status quo ante” seems to be much preferred by those sharks that were used to the taste of juicy morsels in the run of affairs than the much awaited solutions. The slowness in the approach to resolve the issue is a temptation to peep into the affairs hidden behind a heap of crap shielding the treasure of accumulated wealth and earnings of some involved in the waste-management. Alarming as they are, the entire picture is taking us towards far horizons. This has lead to a consternation, whether health, environment, cleanliness and such important elements to a decent human life could be laid by and compromised for the pillage by those in high places.
The issue of waste collection dumping and proper management is mostly centered round the city of Colombo. The role played by the Colombo Municipality is extremely important in this connection. Hence with no accusing fingers pointed towards anybody the following data statistics, the veracity of which could be ascertained by anybody from sources that matter, are produced to enable the public to form their own opinion based on these.
Historical Data – Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) was dissolved with effect from 23rd June 2010, over charges of corruption and a special commissioner was appointed to oversee the functions of the CMC. Among the alleged irregularities on the part of the CMC members the following issue also came up;
“ awarding of a two-year contract in 2007 to private company Carekleen Pvt Ltd to clear solid waste in two areas of Colombo, without calling for tenders and seeking the CMC’s approval”
Elections were held in 2011, to elect 59 Councilors and 53 were elected and 6 were nominated. The term of this council ended in December 2015 and was extended from Dec 2015 to June 2016 by Gazette Notification.
This term of the Council ended in 30th June 2016 and the administration thereafter (until the last election) came under a special commissioner .
Elections were held again in February 2018 and elected 119 Councilors for a term of 4 years – returning 60 from the UNP and 59 from all other parties.
Now let us take a look at the relevant statistical information:
Expenditure for Solid waste management comprise of the following elements;
- Expenditure for Garbage collection GRAPH I
- CMC fuel cost for garbage collection GRAPH II
- Total cost for garbage collection GRAPH III
- Garbage collection cost per ton GRAPH IV
- Expenditure for the dumping site GRAPH V
- Garbage dumping cost per ton GRAPH VI
- Hiring charges for bulldozers and excavators GRAPH VII
An analysis of the Solid Waste Management related expenditure of the Colombo Municipal Council during the period from 2009 to 2016.
Expenditure for Garbage Collection Graph I
CMC fuel cost for garbage collection GRAPH II
Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Rs. Mn. 54 67 71 89 108 96 77 81
Total cost of Garbage Collection Graph III
Garbage collection cost per ton Graph IV
Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Rs. 1832 2115 2228 2680 3188 3256 3744 5015
Expenditure for the Dumping Site Graph V
Garbage Dumping cost per ton Graph VI
Amount paid for Hiring Equipment for Garbage handling (Bulldozers & Excavation) Graph VII
In arriving at a conclusion or forming an opinion the following factors too should be taken into consideration;
- Garbage was dumped to a site at Bluemendol on a payment for dumping, up to 2009 March
- From March 2009 till 2016 (collapse of the garbage mountain) garbage was dumped to Meetotamulla site with no payments for the disposal. CMC incurred only the cost of maintenance of the site
- In 2012 3 Dozers belonging to the SL Army were engaged by paying for 200 liters of Diesel cost per 8 hour day for a period of 6 months
- Till 2013 the average garbage collection per day was calculated as 700 tons but from 2014 it went up to 800 tons per day for calculation purposes
There are several groups involved in the Solid Waste management of the CMC. Such as
- Fuel suppliers
- Those who provide dumping sites
- Excavators and Bulldozer hiring companies
- Officials and MMCs associated with the subject
- Political authorities
- Media personnel
All these groups have exercised their contributory participation in the process according to their area and capacity. Society will assess their performance depending on how purposeful and worthwhile their contribution has been
Any decision making or an assessment related to the garbage issue should be based on all these factors. Any drastic increase in the costs would heavily burden the CMC budget and limit its capacity to spend on account of services to be provided to the tax paying citizens. Particularly the less affluent sectors of the society depending on various assisted facilitations should continue to enjoy those. Ironically the increase in the garbage handling has been due to a demand made by a State Organization the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Board. There cannot be any doubt to the possibility of a reasonable cost determination on a consultative basis between State Organizations in a mutually beneficial manner. The payment of a high fee would be an unfavorable bench mark for the future in the most unlikely event of CMC having to face the issue without the assistance of a state organization.
Sanity should prevail in such matters and the primary consideration should be the COUNTRY and the PEOPLE.