- 18 April 2017
- By Athula Vithanage
Family members who lost their loved ones in a landslide caused by a massive garbage mountain have slammed the Sri Lankan government for dumping rubbish in their backyard despite opposition by residents and scientists.
The Meetotamulla waste dump in the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital collapsed when the country was celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil new year.
Bodies of 28 including six children have been found buried under the garbage and 32 are still missing while hopes of finding them alive are fading.
'This is murder'
The disaster management centre (DMC) said on 17 Monday that 980 people from 228 families have been affected.
Residents have been protesting against the dumping of waste from the capital in the less privileged suburb since 2011.
They called for the former government and the present administration to be held accountable for the deaths.
“This is not a natural disaster, it is one engineered by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe,” said Nuwan Bopage, Convener of the Peoples Movement Against the Rubbish Dump, “this is murder.”
Scientists have been warning that the Meetotamulla site is unstable to be used as a waste dump that receives 800 metric tonnes daily.
Following a research done in early 2016 experts from the Peradeniya university agriculture engineering department have informed authorities that the soil bed of the site is not stable to sustain such a massive weight.
“We warned that it is situated in a bad location that is not suitable even for a temporary dump,” says Senior Lecturer AK Karunaratne.
War of words
The Western Provincial Council (WPC) and the Urban Development Authority (UDA) are shifting blame to each other in a war of words.
WPC Chief Minister Isura Devapriya says that Meetotamulla was used to dump the garbage from the capital as the UDA did not allocate the requested land for waste management.
UDA Chairman Jagath Munasinghe who denies that the WPC made such a request alleges that the waste is dumped illegally.
Nuwan Bopage alleges that politicians who get kickbacks from private companies which are involved in lucrative garbage transporting contracts, prevented a scientific waste management system being implemented.
Waste management which involves massive amounts of money should be handled by the central government to avoid future similar disasters says Dr AK Karunaratne.
“There are no short-term waste management that safeguard human lives.”