25 May, 2024


A Mountain Of Dirt Behind Waste Management 

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

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;

  1. Expenditure for Garbage collection                      GRAPH  I 
  2. CMC fuel cost for garbage collection                   GRAPH II
  3. Total cost for garbage collection                          GRAPH III
  4. Garbage collection cost per ton                            GRAPH IV
  5. Expenditure for the dumping site                          GRAPH  V
  6. Garbage dumping cost per ton                              GRAPH   VI
  7. 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

  • Collectors
  • Transporters
  • Fuel suppliers
  • Those who provide dumping sites
  • Excavators and Bulldozer hiring companies
  • Officials and  MMCs associated with the subject
  • Political authorities
  • Environmentalists
  • 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.


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Latest comments

  • 4

    If one were to leave a problem ‘as is where is’, lot of people will forget the problem particularly if the victims are from the lower economic strata. Successive GoSL have resorted to this form of problem solving but in the long term the problems snowball.
    Did someone say “Stitch in time saves nine”?

    • 6

      “A Mountain Of Dirt”

      The biggest mountain of dirt people fail to see is the entrenched political setup/establishment ………. of which you are struggling to be an insignificant minor cog by playing your partisan politics Mr Rusiripala

      If we herd our mountain of dirt into a spaceship and shoot it into outer space never to return ………….Lanka will start smelling like heaven …………

      • 0


        Why don’t you try to expose what you know and what Rusiripala is not doing
        You seem to b very worried that he does not do what you want
        Leave him alone man
        You try to do something of your own if you can without blaming others who do what they think is right for them
        Rusiripala seems to b the only politician you know and hate

        • 0

          “Rusiripala seems to b the only politician you know and hate”

          P U K Jayantha/Rusipala,

          I have never ever even seen ye ……….. but let’s say that ……….. from the picture I don’t like your face. :))


          • 0

            Mr Rusipala/PUK,

            I saw you for the very first time on YouTube talking about banks with that Muslim gentlemen who wears suspenders – over the shoulders – whatever his name is.

            I am a collector of vintage comedy movies from the silent era …….. and was struck by your resemblance to Norman Wisdom ……… if you didn’t color you hair and a vee bit lighter you’d be a mirror image. I think you missed your vocation Mr Rusipala! ……. Just think of the money and the gals you could’ve had!

  • 0

    So, it seems that a number of Lankans have sat around oval tables, looked very intellectual, and then put in all kinds of strategies in place to LOOK as though rubbish was being attended too. After the results of their long talks, workers were sent with all kinds of bulldozing equipment to push the very-same rubbish around the very- same dumping mountains. So now the rubbish has a different shape to accommodate the growing mountain, but shaped up to look smaller.
    Best that can be done with the rubbish is to involve it in the drainage problem, and to fill in marshy areas. Then grow vegetation on top. Use it under roads. Use it as foundation for building construction. Use it to fortify the port city development. Also is for pits to be dug in each section of Colombo, and rubbish to be taken care of, in each individual locale. Rosie has to be the first to show the good example of clearing rubbish with a spade and bucket (on a weekly basis). So much cheaper too.

    • 0

      ok….marshy areas cannot be filled with garbage, but used as drainage areas.

  • 1

    Why does the CMC need 119 Councilors ? What do they do on a daily basis ? What is the cost to maintain these people ? Garbage is big money to the “mafia”. Wont be surprised how many politicians get a share. In other countries garbage is turned into money by converting them into Energy, also ensuring a cleaner environment. Here it is converted into money for the corrupt, at the cost of innocent lives.

  • 3

    Has the Government considered the amount of garbage that will be produced by the Port City and all other high rise buildings coming up in Colombo and how the Waste is to be managed.

  • 3

    This is okay when there is an Everest of dirt behind the country’s management.

  • 1

    I am ready to help by providing machines to turn organic waste to compost in just 24 hours.
    I even contacted Rosy and explained the system. We can arrest the problem at source.
    Let us ask what we can do for the country and what the country could do for us (JFK)

    • 2

      The problem is the inorganic waste.

  • 1

    Thank you for such an awareness article……….instead of Language/religious discussions and disputes which is saturating the media should focus on the bigger killer we are creating for ourselves may divert the minds of our people away from the current mindset and to something more critical for their survival tomorrow.
    We need find a way to educate our masses bypassing all the obstacles perhaps we could ask the TV stations to translate excellent programs already exists in local languages and broadcast/give some coolness to young in the social media locally to discuss environment as there future is in jeopardy…..the sinners like us going to leave behind for them to deal with…..

    • 1

      Unfortunately we have idiotic comments like some here who focus on the writer his politics and such rubbish instead of the issue

      • 6

        P U. K Jayantha

        Because he has established himself as the Sri Lankan equivalent of public intellectual.

        If one is in the public domain frequently one is expected to be stoned.
        On the other hand, whenever Prof Noam Chomsky, Prof Gananath Obeysekere ………… appear on public they are listen to carefully by the audience in an pin drop silent atmosphere .
        Now you should have known the difference between fearless public intellectuals and full time b***s carriers.

      • 4

        Mr P U. K Jayantha,

        When we have so many politicians with all the perks paid for by the taxed hard toil – now made more efficient by the recent tax-regime introduced by Ranil – of ordinary working people, running around doing nothing, is it the duty of us to solve these problems?

        Just look at the suggestions and offers to solve the problem put forward in the comments. Do you in your wildest dreams believe that any of the suggestions or offers will be accepted by the people in government whose task/responsibility is to solve them?

        I am a realist an ultra-realist and not a dreamer ………… and I know how these things end. ………. I know Lankans; like my own people. Only too well!

        Mr Rusipala is a partisan political player ………… who sees the faults of only one side and not the other ………..and these type of characters who we have an abundance of, are responsible for the situation in the country today …….. and that’s a fact we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend we don’t see.

        Mr P U. K Jayantha ……… who is the idiot now?

        I am ever willing to argue this point ……. and I hope you will accept the offer to argue like a man and not runaway like the typical cowardly Lankan ………… and I promise to be civil :))

        The truth is a hard thang to face ……. but easy to skirt around with fancy steps.

        • 0

          You still appear to b the person who deserves to wear the hat I threw.
          Rusiripala ‘s article deals with all those in power now and before
          Looks like you jump to comment when you see his name!
          2009 to 2016 cover most of the recent regimes my dear
          Try to understand facts before barking!
          For us such factual and statistics backed articles are important
          God knows what is the political partisanship you are talking about in this article
          Looks like you have some axe to grind
          Don’t waste public space and time for petty minds
          No body would come to argue any sensible matters with the likes

          • 0

            “For us such factual and statistics backed articles are important”

            P U K Jayantha/Mr Rusipala,

            As a fully grown Lankan adult with years of experience living in the shithole …………. you think that a “factual and statistics backed article” from an expert whose expertise is “The Bond scam” is going to solve the garbage problem, eh?

            I suppose ………. you are one of those who believe that the return of the Rajapakses is going to solve all our problems too? Garbage and all? :))

            You guys can write articles till kingdom come …………. but from the little experience I have of how things work in Lanka ……….. without any article I can easily arrive at a rational conclusion how things are going to end ………… you may not know even if it falls on your head ……… but that’s called intelligence Mr Rusipala/PUK.

            That’s why I’m here making fun of you and you are there sucking up to murderers and thieves for daily sustenance :))

            Have a nice day.

        • 0

          Nimal F,
          Don’t you think this PUK guy sounds strangely like our pal Rusiri . You know, the perfect syntax, biting wit, etc?
          Well, he’s not mentioned “bond scam” this time, so let’s allow him his two cents. But again, the CMC had a UNP administration most of the period in question.

          • 0

            “this PUK guy”


            The thought did occur to me! :))

            It’ seems good ol’ Mr Rusipala feels my comments got showed right up his PUK. :)))

            Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. …………… or should I say a patriot?

            Never a dull moment in Lanka!

    • 1

      an excellent introduction to solid waste management and could be shared at schools too.

  • 1

    Hi, I went to see this lady Dr Vanthana Shiva in Colombo/Sri Lanka in 2014 during the “seed law” discussion as our parliament was passing the seed law then…..one of the audio speech in SL because SL Environmental groups have invited her to speak on the subject of “Seed for life”at a time our parliament was passing the seed law
    You will find some exceptional presentations around the world in the youtube……her website also very interesting for the young people to get involved. We need to have green parties in Sri Lanka represented in the parliment and uniting us all to shape a better place for us to live not the same old politics we are focused on for the past 70 years. Outdated/unqualified disputes/discussions/policy making does nothing to address real life issues matters to humanity in a small island.

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