Disasters Forewarned due to Ill-Planned and Badly Executed Landfill in Wilpattu Buffer

 

Disasters Forewarned due to Ill-Planned and Badly Executed Landfill in Wilpattu Buffer

We visited the vicinity of the Aruwakkalu area which has been a matter of threats, protests and a controversial project by a blacklisted Chinese company which is being rushed through by the Ministry of Megapolis under Minister Champika Ranawaka to transfer Colombo Garbage to Puttalam District (Daily Mirror, 15, 2019).

Aruwakkalu Landfill site

The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development has proposed to develop a landfill in Aruwakkalu (in the Puttalam district), with a waste transfer station in Kelaniya, as a necessary alternative solution for the municipal solid waste disposal problem faced mainly in the Colombo Metro Region and in the Grater Colombo Area largely. The plan is to transfer the garbage using rail transport from Colombo to the proposed landfill site at Aruwakkalu, at a rate of 1200 tons per day, covering a distance of 170 km one way. However, the landfill is open to other local authorities in the Greater Colombo and the local authorities in Puttalam.

Aruwakkalu Landfill, reservation and buffer zones
Aruwakkalu Landfill, reservation and buffer zones

Final report, EIAR For the Proposed Project on Metro Colombo Solid Waste Management, MINISTRY OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT, WATER SUPPLY AND DRAINAGE, Central Environmental Authority, August 2015  (pp15-21) – link 

Proposed landfill site
Proposed landfill site

Final report, EIAR For the Proposed Project on Metro Colombo Solid Waste Management, MINISTRY OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT, WATER SUPPLY AND DRAINAGE, Central Environmental Authority, August 2015  (pp15-21) – link 


 

Aruwakkalu-Wilpattu Buffer

Mr. Barr Kumarakulasinghe is a environmental scientist. In the discussions Mr. Kumarakulasinghe highlighted threats to the water ways, ecosystem and wildlife particularly to three adjacent areas as the garbage Processing center is situated in a critical area.

 

  • Puttalam lagoon through leaching from the groundwater – this shall affect the fisheries and ecosystem
  • Kala Oya basin as the garbage processing center is 3km from the Kala Oya – water can be contaminated.
  • Wilpattu Forested Area which is six km away to which there is a threat from aquatic contamination through the groundwater and for the wildlife.
Different types of aquifers in Sri Lanka
Different types of aquifers in Sri Lanka (Panabokke and Perera, 2005)

Ground Water: The capping of the sanitary landfill is to be made of cement, it may crack as a result of dynamite blasting in the nearby area by Holcim and INSEE cement companies and if it cracks the effluents will end up in the waterways and groundwater.

Further, he says, the rain in the locality can be intense for brief periods -maybe 2000 mm for one and a half months – it will lead to overflowing of the landfill and we need to address the risk of leaching into the aquifers as well.

Links: https://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/colombo-garbage-to-wilpattu.html

https://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/update-colombo-garabge-to-wilpattu.html

 

 

Discussions with Mr. S.M. Mubarack

Mr. S.M. Mubarack

Mr. S.M. Mubarack is an environmentalist and a development planning officer, who has looked in to in-depth in development planning projects in the area over the years. Puttalam has been the butt of past projects with disastrous environmental impacts and he raises the issue of environmental racism in how projects are handled. The project to bring garbage to Aruwakkalu is the latest.

Site with Dangers

Aruwakkalu is the most unsuitable land to have the sanitary landfill or even open dumping, because what they are doing is on top of the limestone quarry which would not bear the load built up of 1200MT per day according to the Megapolis Ministry.

Shady Dealings

Even though the EIA says the loading will be for ten years the minister say eighty years and the funds for this project would be raised from the World bank and AIIB (Chinese bank) and the whole project is said to be estimated to be USD 274 Million, which in his opinion is much more of a building program than a garbage management program and knowing that the contract was given to a company (CHEC) which is a blacklisted company by the World Bank where the World Bank has withdrawn USD 115 million and USD 44 million was to be contributed by the government of Sri Lanka.

He further added, that the conditions that have been laid down by the Central Environmental Authority as part of the EIA are being completely violated and they are supposed to bring the garbage by train but, now they are coming by trucks.

Lack of Community Consultations

One of the integral parts of the EIA is community consultation, but, they have consulted about fifteen people at Kelaniya where the transfer station is and considered only two people from Aruwakkalu area, one of them is a Buddhist priest and the other is a farmer. Not a single local authority from the Puttalam area sends the garbage to Aruwakkalu but the unsorted garbage is sorted and the stinking garbage is brought from Kuliyapitiya urban council area is dumped at the Aruwakkalu site. For the whole project, the people and the Pradeshiya Sabha chairman and the members have objected, but Minister Champika is trying to implement everything in a dictatorial manner, he says.
Apart from that, they have consulted some government servants including Grama Sevakas who have said there is no problem without even knowing the integral parts of the garbage management.

References –

  1. Barr-Kumarakulasinghe, S, Colombo, Meethotumulla Garbage is not to Puttalam but the Wilpattu, October 14, 2015, Blogpost. http://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/colombo-garbage-to-wilpattu.html
  2. Barr-Kumarakulasinghe, S, Colombo, Update – Colombo Garbage to Wilpattu, October 14, 2015, Blogpost. http://wilpattuhouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/update-colombo-garabge-to-wilpattu.html
  3. Kamanthi Wickramanasinhghe, Aruwakkalu Landfill Project Another White Elephant, Daily Mirror, 14 August 2019. http://www.dailymirror.lk/news-features/Sanitary-project-Aruwakkalu-landfill-another-white-elephant/131-172841
  4. Malaka Rodrigo, Environmentalists derail garbage train to Aruwakkalu, Sunday Times, October 4, 2015. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151004/news/environmentalists-derail-garbage-train-to-aruwakkalu-166659.html
  5. Environmental Impact Assessment Report of the Proposed Project on Metro Colombo Solid Waste Management, Ministry Of Megapolis and Western Development, August 2017. https://ewsdata.rightsindevelopment.org/files/documents/55/AIIB-000055_LdaZhb5.pdf
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Aruwakkalu Landfill to accept garbage from Puttalam district

Aruwakkalu Landfill to accept garbage from Puttalam

Source – Link

By Disna Mudalige

The Aruwakkalu Sanitary Landfill site will accept garbage collected from all local authorities in the Puttalam district from March 15, Megapolis and Western Development Ministry Secretary Nihal Rupasinghe said.
In the wake of growing ‘hartal’ and other protest campaigns by the area residents with only a month remaining to the commissioning of the landfill, the Ministry Secretary took pains to dispel the doubts and fears harboured against the project.
Speaking to the media along with the project consultants, Rupasinghe firmly defended the project detailing on its scientific and technical aspects and the special precautions taken to avoid environmental and health hazards.
The Metro Colombo Solid Waste Management Project was commenced as a durable solution to the garbage problem in Colombo following the Meethotamulla tragedy in 2017.
Rupasinghe said Phase I of the much-needed project has now been completed and the Ministry has decided to initially accept garbage in the Puttalam district to the landfill.
“About 160 tonnes of garbage is collected daily in the Puttalam district and the current system of waste disposal in the area is open dumping and burning. This leads to many environmental and health hazards and we could observe that the leachate was leaking to the streets. People in Puttalam have got nothing to object to the landfill site as it also provides a scientific solution to their own garbage problem,” Rupasinghe said.
“People panic because they are not familiar with the technological aspects of it and are misled by wrong information. I ask those protesting against the landfill to come up with one justifiable reason for their objections,” Rupasinghe said.
“The Aruwakkalu Landfill will be fully completed by the end of this year and it can accommodate 1,200 tonnes of garbage per day. Once the Kelaniya Transmission Station is built, garbage collected in the Colombo, Dehiwala and Kolonnawa Municipal Councils will be transported from Kelaniya to Aruwakkalu in sealed containers via train. Four new train engines for the purpose have already been ordered from China,” he explained.
He pointed out that the Kelawarapitiya site where garbage is now being disposed would reach its full capacity in a few months’ time and an alternative durable solution is needed urgently. He said waste to energy projects in Karadiyana and Kelawarapitiya, each with a capacity to generate 10 MW, would be completed by another two years.
“However, the landfills are cost effective than waste to energy projects. As estimated waste to energy projects cost about Rs.7,000 per a tonne of garbage, while the landfill only costs Rs 3,000 per a tonne of garbage,” he explained.
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