Is my country drowning, in a sea of garbage?
Posted on July 29th, 2019

Laksiri Warnakula

I saw a picture on Facebook on (27-07-19) that made me silently cry. It was the garbage-strewn river mouth of the Kelani Ganga. It is literally a giant carpet of garbage, the thickness of which could be anyone’s guess.

Then came the containers. The ghostly shapes stuffed with garbage sitting somewhere, on this pristine land of ours, its filth slowly leaking to the ground, its stink penetrating and permeating through the air around started to play tricks on my mind. The boxes of metal now glistening as if livid with demonic rage began to float in front of me, a grotesque, savage dance prophesying the ill-health of the nation. 

People from all walks of life, the poor and the not so poor are talking about it. It has taken media on all fronts and formats by storm. It is about this despicable, disgusting act, which is tantamount to spitting on ones’ ‘Motherland’ with spite and venom, by heartless rogues and I wonder if it doesn’t make any sane person, even with a modicum of care, concern and love for the country of his/her birth, fume, what else can? 

These containers are said to contain garbage and filth, some even carrying human remains.

I heard somewhere that those containers cannot be sent back, according to ‘Basal Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal’, which prohibits cross-border (land/sea) traffic of garbage transport. And this ‘Treaty was also designed specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to less developed countries (Wikipedia)’. I think this is quite relevant and applicable to Sri Lanka as regards this present case since part of the garbage is said to contain health-hazardous hospital garbage including human remains, which ought to be considered hazardous by Sri Lanka in any case, which is the country of import.

The covenants, conventions and treaties have to be fair by all parties. An illegal act has taken place at the point of origin, where the despatch of the cargo was initiated and subsequently effected. Consequently its voyage to its present location was illegal too. So why that cargo cannot be sent back? I am not a lawyer. Yet, common sense and fair play suggest that it should be so.

Mr President, you were born and bred in a village. I am sure you have heard the enchanting sounds of humming bees and chirping birds, seen how beautiful the greenery can be, smelt that uniquely refreshing fragrance coming from a meadow, felt the breeze and smelt its delicate scents, which only a clean and pristine environment can give. And I am sure you had many a dip and swim in those pristine waters of our ‘ala, dola and ganga’. 

And then you are also the Minister, who is responsible for looking after our environment. Therefore, please make it a task of highest priority to initiate an island-wide campaign to handle and properly manage the disposal of garbage. Transferring of garbage from one place to another is an eyewash. It is not only unsustainable, it defeats the purpose too, which is to make our environment free of garbage and trash. I have read about few small-scale garbage sorting and recycling plants in operation in some locations. Why not make this an island-wide project, where each council has its own to cater to garbage produced in the area that comes under its jurisdiction? Or a few can work together, where capacities come into the equation, having one plant to serve them all. And I have also heard that as one would expect these days that there exist ‘garbage mafia outfits’ too in many a locality or council and you should be prepared to handle them as well. 

Sir, please make sure that those containers will be leaving Sri Lankan shores to whatever the destination without delay. And also make sure that all those, who are behind this despicable act, will also be expediently dealt with, if there is enough legal grounds for such action.

Please do not let our beautiful country drown in a sea of garbage!

Laksiri Warnakula 

2 Responses to “Is my country drowning, in a sea of garbage?”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Please read the FINANCE ACT, No. 12 OF 2013 and the original Act of 2012. This must be repealed (preferably) or at least amended.

    Published as a Supplement to Part II of the Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka of April 26, 2013.

    Here is the link.

    “https://www.srilankalaw.lk/YearWisePdf/2013/FINANCE_ACT,_No._12_OF_2013.pdf”

    Please refer to PART III, AMENDMENT OF PART IV OF THE FINANCE, ACT, NO. 12 OF 2012

  2. dingiri bandara Says:

    People are also to be blamed for the garbage problem and they must be educated about the danger of the situation. Garbage has become universal problem. Every government and every citizen must be proactive and work towards reducing the amount of trash produced. The manufacturers must use part of their profits to find ways dispose of the products that contribute to this problem. They also must do more research to produce environmentally friendly items. People need to stop using single use plastics.
    Of all do not work together, the future generations will be living and swimming in garbage

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