Political corruption flourishes on garbage

By The Nation – Apr 22, 2017


Immediately after the Meetotamulla disaster making money out of garbage became a subject of discussion in all electronic and print media. During Nation’s attempt to get to the bottom issue it was revealed that the garbage dump a business value to certain underworld groups.

In the aftermath of the Meetotamulla debacle reports of corruption concerning waste disposal have surfaced. Addressing a gathering of heads of media institutions President Maithripala Sirisena said that he would appoint a committee, headed by a retired judge next week to probe into the issue and submit a report within a month. He further pointed out that a major cause for the issue is failure of government officials to carryout directives.

Organiser of the People’s Movement Against Meetotamulla Garbage Mound, Nuwan Bopage said that whatever happens in the Meetotamulla Garbage Mound it has to go through former Kolonnawa Urban Council Chairman Ravindra Udaya Shantha.

He revealed that even refused food items such as onions are cleaned and resold in the market under the sanction of corrupt politicians. “All those who engage in such a practice are expected to take care of Ravindra Udaya Shantha,” alleged Bopage. The Nation also reliably learns that truckloads of expired food stuffs that are provided at the site are resold.

Though it is planned to dump garbage in Karadiyana and Kirindiwela landfill in the future, environmentalist Ravindra Kariyawasam said it will be a recipe for another Meetotamulla. “For other countries garbage is a fine source of energy but here in Sri Lanka it is a fine source of income for corrupt politicians,” said Kariyawasam expressing his repulsion. He said that though only the CMC was allowed to dump garbage in Meetotamulla, garbage from private companies at Kaduwela, Ranala and Biyagama areas made it a practice of dumping garbage by paying Rs 4000 per lorry to extortionists. He charged that Ravindra Uadaya Shantha should be held answerable. “Here 19 lorries have been dumping garbage daily,” said Kariyawasam. According to him Meetotamulla garbage dump is an issue of extortion.

During an interview with People’s Movement Against Meetotamulla Garbage Mound, Convener, Keerthirathna Perera, who lost most of his family in the recent disaster, they have evidence that implicate the former Kolonnawa Urban Council Chairman Ravindra Udaya Shantha in an alleged racket that left him with a cut from every truckload of waste dumped at the site. “Seven backhoes operated here around the clock and these people got Rs 4000 for every hour as their cut. This is why they were reluctant to solve this issue,” he alleged.

Perera said that the trucks are issued receipts for Rs 8000 and that the receipts bear no seal of an accountant and there is no indication where this money ends up. Perera said that the Peliyagoda fish market waste also ended up in Meetotamulla, a site allocated for Colombo’s waste. “They bring in the container and change the truck to a Kolonnawa Urban Council truck near Meetotamulla,” said Perera.

The residents of Meetotamulla staged a protest on December 27, 2016 demanding a solution to the expansion of the dump site by three acres. The dump site is to be extended over a period of two and a half years, until the Metro Colombo Waste Management Project is completed. Under this project waste will be transported to Aruwakkalu via train.

In the clash that ensued during the protest staged last year, six people were injured. Counsel Gunaratna Wanninayake appearing for the aggrieved party had said that the then Kolonnawa Urban Council Chairman Ravindra Udaya Shantha was furious over the protest because he allegedly received Rs. 4000 for every truck load of garbage dumped at Meetotamulla.

Tender trouble

According to authoritative sources, five waste management tenders not recommended by the CMC Technical Evaluation Committee have been awarded to two companies in 2015 by the CMC Financial Committee.

The Nation last year investigated allegations of tender fraud during which it was revealed that the waste management tenders are awarded every four years and the rate difference is only a 10 percent increase every four years. “But when these five tenders were awarded last year there was a 100 percent price difference,” said an official.

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