Activists suspect attempts to dump UK garbage in Aruwakkalu | Sunday Observer

Activists suspect attempts to dump UK garbage in Aruwakkalu

Activists working against the Aruwakkalu sanitary landfill suspect whether the authorities behind the project were attempting to dump garbage imported from the United Kingdom in Aruwakkalu.

Saheed Mohammed Mubarak, a development planning officer who is part of ‘Clean Puttalam’ concept which launched the 200-day protest campaign and Sathyagraha at Colombo Face in Puttalam, which rejected the Ministry of Megapolis’s project said they believe the garbage imported from UK would be dumped in Aruwakkalu. A petition filed by thirty petitioners seeking a stay order on transportation and disposal of garbage at the Aruwakkalu sanitary landfill is scheduled to be taken up before the Court of Appeal tomorrow (5). Residents in Puttalam district, politicians and environmental activists are among the 30 petitioners who demand all work at the sanitary landfill to be halted.

“All the projects launched in Puttalam are polluting the district. A large percentage of the community is involved in fishing and these projects are directly affecting marine life,” Mubarak said. The projects in Puttalam include the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant and a cement manufacturing plant. A recent study by IPEN in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Justice found that most women had concerning amounts of mercury in their body. The etiology of the issue stems from the coal power plant. A group of representatives of the ‘Clean Puttalam’ concept met President Maithripala Sirisena and Minister of Megapolis Patali Champika Ranawaka, on Wednesday (31), to discuss the issues faced by residents in the area. However, President Sirisena has requested the group to support the project as it was a ‘national issue’ and over 50 percent of the project was complete.

“But we said there were failures in implementing the project that we are opposed to,” Rev. Fr. Christie Perera, Parish Priest of Wanathawilluwa who was also at the meeting with President Sirisena said. The project promised to prepare several layers at the bottom and around the landfill to ensure that liquid would not seep out and contaminate freshwater bodies and also to take the garbage to a designated center, segregate and compact before taken into the landfill.

“None of them is being done now. And they are already bringing garbage to the landfill,” Fr. Perera said. However, Project Director of Western Region Solid Waste Management Project Sarath Bandara said the allegations made by the residents in the area are baseless.

“They are worried about the leachate mixing with the lagoon. But we are taking all precautionary measures to avoid this,” he said.

The project is currently on the standstill as they are awaiting permission for the project proceed from the Wanathawilluwa Pradeshiya Sabha. The Central Environmental Authority and its North Western provincial branch has granted approval on the basis that Wanathawilluwa would give the green light. Bandara said they will go ahead with the project as planned.

The Puttalam district comprises 2,800 acre salt production, 3,000 acre prawn farms from which 7,000 MT of prawns are exported from Puttalam district bringing in foreign exchange into the country. 

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