Posted on October 12th, 2016

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

Meethotamulle in Kollonawa area is being used by Colombo Municipal Council  ( CMC)  as a garbage dumping ground ,which has created an extremely hazardous environment ,which led to mass scale protests by the residents in the area .The matter has been taken to courts by some people seeking legal redress due to the fact the authorities have not been able to find a long lasting solution.

A company with majority shareholding held by Western Power ( a subsidiary of Aitken Spence ) has mooted a project to segregate garbage  to compost and dry burnable material with plans for generating electricity. The project is on stand still due to non-availability of an investor

Many other private investors are trying to find an economically viable solution and unfortunately none has come with a viable plan

It is ESSENTIAL to find an alternative site to dump almost 1200 tons garbage  delivered daily by CMC to at least calm the public down ,but neither UDA nor CMC has been able to find a land for above .Over 2-3 million tons of old and new garbage are lying in Meethotatamulle and the immediate requirement is get rid of part or the whole heap to some other place in close vicinity. It is not advisable to carry raw wet garbage to any land nearby to dump as it may not be cost effective but also it may generate public outcry

Hence solution below will be the most suitable option providing that the Government and the Authorities who have a land bank and the resources agree with the plan proposed

Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation ( SLLDC) –holds a land bank near Colombo.

In Muthrajawela SLLRDC developed a 400 acres as am Industrial park ,by reclaiming a marsh with Sea sand in 1996 after obtaining Environment Clearance .and now fully occupied by various companies as fuel and gas storage ,ware housing and power generation etc .SLLRDC lately obtain environment clearance to reclaim 200 more acres between the buffer zone and the 400 acre developed plot and now ready to offer to investors for various industries.SLLRDC has also pumped over 2.5 million Cu M of Sea sand which is now stock piled next to the 200 acre plot and being sold   to retail buyers .This stock pile of sand can be used to reclaim the 200 acres and offer to investors, and SLLRDC has advertised the land calling for offers.

Now SLLRDC is contemplating to hand over 10 acres of land to Western Power to process garbage .But due to some short sightedness land earmarked has been identified next to the western boundary of the landfill adjacent to a canal .Beyond the canal there over 2-300 families with deeds who will be protesting very soon against locating the dumping site.It will be another Jaela” very soon

Government can initiate a action plan to remove the OLD garbage which has already being party composted lying in the southern part of the Meethotamulle Dump using trucks to the 200 acre plot for reclamation .

It is advisable to use part of the available sand to lay a 1-2 feet layer in the marshy layer  of 200 acres prior to dumping of the OLD GARBAGE and fresh layer of either sand or earth ( being excavated in many building sites in Colombo) can be used to cover the garbage payers one by one .SLLRDC has a large fleet of equipment and trucks  which are idling and the workforce can undertake this work .Government via Treasury and also from CMC coffers funds should be made available to SLLRDC to carry out above work .It is anticipated that removal of the OLD GARBAGE can be completed within 3- 4 months.

Land which is cleared in Meethotmualle dump may be used to install a Garbage sorting ware house and compacting unit  for further transportation either for incineration or  degasifying else where Residents in the area can have employment for segregation of the garbage, which is now being practiced in Karadiyana Site in Moratuwa Part of the 200 acre land can be used for installation of the incineration plant which can be the source to generate steam for power generation .

The land reclaimed by above means can be offered to Investors who may come with an investment plan to generate power using the raw garbage which can be transported after compacting and bailing.

 CMC ,UDA ,SLLRDC and a Treasury Representative shall form a committee headed by a high powered authoritative person  who shall report to Prime Minister for speedy execution of the project .Government shall appoint a high powered officer  who can undertake to manage and  above task providing absolute authority is given to  executing above, subject to agreement by all three agencies above Treasury Representative shall provide avenues to source funds for the above project 



During a reason visit to Maldive Island the writer has witnessed how garbage is carried by landing crafts to an area closed to the city ,and over 500 acres has been reclaimed by du ping garbage and covering with sea sand .This newly generated land is now a Industrial Estate in Male .Maldives has very stringent environment rules and yet they opted to do above to solve the problem .Therefore reclaiming the land observing proper guidelines not to pollute the area for Industrial Purpose is the ideal short term solution for above problem



Dr Sarath Obeysekera


  1. plumblossom Says:

    You cannot bail garbage since it is a putrefying material. If you try to bale garbage which is a putrefying material, it would create a huge heath hazard. The issue of solid waste management should be left to those who are experts on that subject since those who do not know about the subject will suggest completely inappropriate solutions which will create massive health hazards.

    You cannot dump garbage in and around Muthurajawela since it is a wetland and a nature reserve and it is against the law to disturb a nature reserve in any way. Wetlands are disappearing fast and we should preserve whatever wetlands we have and Muthurajawela is an important wetland and it must have protected status as per Sri Lankan law and therefore garbage cannot be dumped near a wetland in this way.

    About the garbage problem, the normal practice followed is to reduce the amount of garbage produced by following the P plus three R’s concept. This is prevent, reduce, reuse and recycle. Therefore, children and households should be educated as to how to prevent, reduce, reuse and recycle rubbish. Householders can be provided a compost bin and taught how to compost the organic part of the garbage. There can be separate collections of items such as tin, plastic, paper, cardboard, glass etc. which can then be recycled. In fact recycling bins can be installed in every town so people can bring items to be recycled and dispose of in the recycle bins. All these measures will reduce the final amount of garbage from households that needs to be disposed at a landfill site.

    A designed land fill site can be used to disposed of garbage. Designed means using a liner to prevent leachate from the putrefying garbage entering the water table, and methane gas collection pipes installed to collect methane gas which is also produced when the garbage putrefies. On top, leachate should also be collected and treated in a wastewater treatment plant. As you can see, a designed landfill site is expensive to build. During the previous government’s time, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya landfill sites were semi-designed. The Bloemendel garbage site was also capped by a Malaysian company. An alternative is to install a number of incinerators and to produce energy using the waste to energy concept. However, this is also expensive and will produce greenhouse gases and toxic substances which as need to be disposed in a careful manner. For a tropical country, landfilling is best rather than incineration.

    There was a plan to use a disused quarry site in Puttlam to dispose of garbage from the Colombo area. It is OK as long as the quarry floor is made impermeable using a liner so that leachate from the putrefying garbage does not reach the water table. Here a designed landfill will have to be built to treat the leachate and to collect the methane gas which will be produced. A wastewater treatment plant will also have to be built.

    The best solution to the garbage problem in Colombo is to educate children from kindergarten level up the concept of prevent, reduce, reuse , recycle. Provide each householder with a composting bin to compost the organic part of the garbage and distribute leaflets educating the public as to how to compost the organic part of the garbage, have separate collections for recyclable material such as plastic, tin, paper, cardboard, glass by provision of coloured bins to each household to distinguish recyclable material from garbage to be disposed of at a landfill site. Finally provide each householder a separately coloured bin to collect that part of the garbage to be disposed at a landfill site.

    Also in each town and village, install a number of large bins so that villagers can dispose of recyclable material such as plastic, tin, glass, paper and cardboard which should then be collected for recycling by the local council.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    The design of landfill sites, siting of landfill sites, citing of incinerators (if to be used), all these are issues that should be handled by a qualified civil/ environmental engineering consultancy since design of landfill sites is part of the subject of environmental engineering. This issue is not about some ‘environmentalists’ protesting but all over the world, landfill sites are designed by civil/ environmental engineering consultancies. Environmental engineering is a subject taught as part of the civil engineering degree at university.

    The CEA will only provide consents as per the environmental laws of the country, As far as my knowledge of the law, if Muthurajawela has a protected status as a nature reserve, it cannot be disturbed in any way as per the law of the land and the CEA will then not give their consent to any plans which will disturb a nature reserve in any way.

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