Murder at Meethota
Posted on April 21st, 2017

By Lucien Rajakarunanayake Courtesy The Island

A recent cartoon in the popular “Marmaduke” series, showed the dog Marmaduke look sadly at the trash cans emptied by urban sanitation workers. The friendly boy tried to make him feel better saying “Don’t be sad, Marmaduke. We can always make more trash.”

This must be how so many of those we now learn profited from the garbage dump at Meethotamulla may have felt – that there will be more garbage ahead – whenever there was a drop in urban garbage collections.

Meethotamulla is the painful buzz just now.  The death toll is more than 30 and sadly will rise. The tragedy will keep growing, and there will be many proposals on how to avoid a second Meethotamulla. But, it is good to bear in mind the decisions on garbage remain in the hands of that powerful garbage conglomerate in society – the dirty politicians.

Many are the proposals being made by citizens interested in preventing another Meethotamulla. One such, by a doctor who seemed to have studied the matter, was that the Meethotamulla mountain of Garbage be transferred, with all necessary precautions, to carry out the landfill at the Port City.

Seems to be a good idea for Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka who is keen that no land of the Urban Development Authority be used for garbage disposal, giving the impression that any land outside the UDA is fit for this now deadly job. Who cares if there is another stinking and deadly mountain of garbage, anywhere outside the UDA? In the past two years, we have heard much about the Port City or the Financial Hub of Colombo in South Asia, but little was said by those who kept promoting the new urban expansion of the deathly piling up of garbage right on the fringe of the city. The obsession with the Port City did take their minds away from the reality of Meethotamulla, and all the dangers it held. The Prime Minister and Patali Champika lead the politicians aspiring to see Colombo as a financial hub and mega-city such as Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong. Yet, if we cannot manage the garbage of the city can we ever reach the heights of those other cities? Are there any plans other than Meethotamulla for the garbage from all the high rises coming up for the wealthy and foreigners? Some Champika thinking on this is better than hurling garbage abuse across the political ground. Also, a Port City built with a garbage landfill from Meethotamulla, will be a wonderful memorial to those who were killed by the politics of garbage that has prevailed for more than the past decade.

The politics of garbage puts the blame for today’s tragedy on all political parties, from those who held power, to those now in office. It is a disgusting story of how the Colombo Municipal Council ignored court rulings as it kept on with the garbage pile at Meethota. Strangely, today there is a surprising silence from the Minister in charge of Local Government, on this huge calamity. Why do we not hear from Minister Faizer Musthapha about Meethota, when all that Meethota garbage came from the CMC and Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia MC? He was very loud about having to delay the local polls. He is also not silent on the dumping of dogs on city streets, and trying to change a good Buddhist policy on the treatment of community dogs. Have the dogs that must have also died at Meethota, together with their owners, caused him much worry?

The tragedy at Meethota is not one of yahapalana origin, although it now stands out as a deadly example of the yamapalanaya – or the devil’s governance that prevails today.  Yet, it is not a situation where politicians of the past can escape condemnation. One was not surprised to see Mahinda Rajapaksa being quick to say that all this tragedy was because their plans to shift the Meethota Garbage to Puttalam was not carried out by the present rulers.  For one who is repeating threats to topple this government within two full moons, this is not a surprise statement. But, what did the Rajapaksa regime think of Puttalam? What plans did they have to protect the people of Puttalam, from having to face what those at Meethota have to face today?

Did they have any concern for the wildlife in the area, especially at the Wilpattu Wildlife Reserve? Or did they think of Wilpattu as another minister of that Rajapaksa regime, who is now with Yahapalana, thinks of the place, as a good settlement for kith, kin, and clan, with no concern for the wildlife?

Mahinda Rajapaksa had better admit that the tragedy at Meethotamulla today is certainly very much to do with the failure of that government to act in the broader interests of the people, rather than of transporters and others in the garbage business, who saw that mount rise to the deadly height from which it began to crash on the auspicious Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day. Was there no astrologer to advise the then government, which believed so much in the movements of the planets that Meethotamulla was a threat to all governments – whatever their colour or political symbol?

Coming together with the promotion of that Rajapaksa brother Gotabaya as the new leader of Sinhala politics, are the suggestions now made that following his policies on city garbage would have prevented the Meethota tragedy. Those who are promoting the future leadership of Gotabaya are very strong on how he beautified Colombo. Hold on. What is readily forgotten is that much of that beautifying of the city had to do with the huge piles of garbage that was continuously piled up at Meethotamulla. That is another dirty garbage catch for the Rajapaksa clan that cannot be easily shaken off.

The Meethotamulla tragedy is a pile up of corruption – in politics and business. Those guilty of having caused all the deaths at Meethotamulla cannot be bundled in one political pack or sidelined in one dirty business group. They also include the bureaucrats who cared two hoots about violating the law and even acting in contempt of court.  This tragedy, we witness in a time of peace, stares at us even more that the tragedies of war, because the peace was exploited for the benefit of crooks in politics, business, administration and governance.

This cannot be pushed aside as any corrupt politician would like by regarding it as an unexpected tragedy or an exceptional calamity. That is not possible in a country that is so rich in Buddhism, that gives due place to cause and effect; although not seen in most present preaching. But it certainly cannot be considered as a huge tragedy or calamity only, especially after that other garbage-slide at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, exactly a month before Meethota, killing 65. That should have given enough warning to all our ministers, MPs, other politicians and administrators, and national leaders, to act with speed to prevent the impending disaster at Meethota. Nothing like that happened.  They were all planning for New Year festivities and the promises of the planets.

Therefore, it is time we went beyond calling this a tragedy, disaster, and calamity or what else,   and name it for what is – Blue Murder. It is time to begin calling this the Murder at Meethotamulla. Let’s wait for those who probe crimes to get down to this huge crime in peacetime, where garbage was the murder weapon used by so many criminals in politics, governance, and business.

One Response to “Murder at Meethota”

  1. Christie Says:

    The writer is not a fool but put the blame on all Sinhalese. What about the Indian Colonial Parasites who run Colombo and occupy Colombo are Indian Colonial Parasites. They will kill Sinhalese be they are Buddhists, Muslims or Christians. They will use guns to garbage.

    කොලොඹ කුනු එකතු කිරීමත් ඉවත් කිරීමත් කරන්නේ අබාන්ස් නැමති සමූහ වියාපාරිකයන්ය. මුන් ඉන්දියානු පරපෝසිතයන්ය. මගේ හිතට ඉතාම කනගාටුවක් දැනෙන්නේ සින්හලයන්ට මෙම විපතට මුල මුන්බව වටහා ගැනීමට නොහැකිවීමය. මේ බව කියන අයට හාමුදුරුවරු ඇතුලු සමහරු ඉතාම නින්දිත ලෙස බැනවදිති.නෝ ලිමිට් වර්ජනය කරපල්ලා කියන අය අබාන්ස්ලට ආවරනය දෙති.
    Abans Enviromental Services Pte Ltd is the contractor responsible for this tragedy. Owned and operated my well known Indian Colonial Parasites

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