More bodies recovered from garbage mound, 30 others are missing
Posted on April 17th, 2017

Courtesy Adaderana

April 17, 2017  01:16 pm

Authorities say the number of dead and missing has risen from the collapse of a massive garbage mound in Meetotamulla. At least 28 people have died and some 30 others are missing and are feared to be beneath the rubble.

The Disaster Management Center said Monday that 11 people were injured and 79 homes were destroyed when the mound collapsed Friday as people celebrated the local new year.

Military personnel were searching the site and were speaking to survivors to determine how many people were still missing. The site became a dumping ground for Colombo’s garbage as authorities pushed to develop the capital in recent years. Residents protesting the dumping because of health hazards.

Hundreds of soldiers have kept up the search for survivors after the disaster, which followed heavy rain the previous day and a fire hours earlier.

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11 Responses to “More bodies recovered from garbage mound, 30 others are missing”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dump explosions can be caused by methane gas build up.
    Likely this is what happened at Meethotamulla too.
    What a pity that plans in place to move the Dump were not implemented by the Yahap govt.

    Political infighting is a WASTE of life, time, energy and funds.

    High time Lanka moved away from such WASTEFUL patterns and resorts to peaceful and creative ways to solve the problems of the people.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Gota had proposed a solution to this problem when the MR/UPFA govt was in power that was discarded and not implemented by the Yamapalanaya despite a near complete breakdown of garbage disposal system that had function efficiently under Gota.

    However, even Gota’s solution did not make good use of the garbage, for example for energy production. Gota had said recently that a detailed study commissioned by him had concluded that the ‘Sri Lanka’s garbage content was too “wet” ‘ to be used for energy generation, which I presume would be by burning as fuel to generate steam in a boiler.

    I tend to disagree with the “too wet to burn” assessment. The garbage can always be “pre-conditioned” or “sorted and dried” using the effluent hot gases of burning before those gases are vented through a chimmney stack. Furthermore, there are other efficient ways of using that garbage, including microbial digestion to produce combustible gases.

    Since the bulk of the waste is organic matter, ordinary composting with air injection can produce both combustible methane gas, and valuable solid compost fertiliser. Organic compost fertiliser could be used to replace expensive inorganic NPK fertilizer to grow fruits znd vegetables. In the USA, the sale and consumption of organically grown foods, at premium prices above food grown using inorganic fertilisers and herbicides, is increasing exponentially. There are methods of using organic compost fertilisers that even eliminate the need for synthetic hrrbicides (such as the notorious Glyphosate, now that has recently been added to the list of CARCINOGENS in California with specified MCLs).

    IT IS TIME that composting of garbage and the organic growing of food is adopted as National Policy in Sri Lanka. This can be economically done by individual homeowners as well as public and government institutions.

    A well designed and integrated system to transform garbage into useful energy and organic fertilizer, will help us immeasureably to spend less on food, solve the garbage disposal problem, live healthier longer lives, pollute our lovely land less, and maintain a clean environment in a sustainable way.

  3. Dilrook Says:


    Unfortunately, Gota’s proposal makes no economic, environmental and political sense at all.

    Further, it only transfers the problem than resolve it. A stinky train traveling 170km daily (and back) will be an environmental hazard in itself. This travels through highly residential areas. People may not tolerate it. Nobody wants Colombo’s garbage. How about garbage of other councils?

    Gota is an excellent military strategist and a rare leader among useless politicians. However, he severely lacks economic knowledge as can be seen from some of his ambitious work (Colombo beautification, floating markets, attempted boat passenger service, very expensive road construction, etc.). This is not against Gotabhaya (who is the best we have) but stating a fact that his non-military skills leave much to be desired.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:


    I have already said that even Gota’s solution for disposal of Colombo garbage is NOT OPTIMAL and that there are BETTER VIABLE SOLUTIONS.

    Gota’s solution does not utilize the garbage for a productive use such as energy generation and organic fertilizer manufacture, as I have suggested, but merely proposes to dump it in a sanitary landfill in a remote rural location in Puttalam.

    However, it is better than creating mountains of garbage open to air snd rain in TWO ways: 1. It RELOCATES the disposal site to a remote rural area albeit at the expense of shipping by train, and 2. It BURIES the garbage below ground rather than piling it on top of land open to air, rain and animals.

    There are much better solutions and technologies available for disposing of garbage not noly cost effectively but also PROFITABLY in ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE ways.

    Another idea I want to propose is that instead of trying to collect garbage and dispose of it in CENTRALLY located plants, the emphasis should shift to disposing of the BULK of the waste is a DISTRIBUTED way at the source itself.

    For example, it is possible to setup a composting unit at every home to did pose of most of the ORGANIC wadte generated at a residence. Only items such as plastics, metal cans, batteries, bulbs etc need to picked up for disposal at a central site, while food waste, grass clippings, leaves, paper, wood chips etc can be composted in small composting drums and converted to compost fertilizer. Such composting units can be built to fit in apartments, small urban homes, large urban homes and even rural village homes with large gardens. The process can be made very convenient to operate, neat and odorless. The organic fertilizer produced can be used at the source itself for flower and vegetable gardens or periodically delivered to collection centers to be used by farmers.

    WIt regard to your criticism of Gota’s signal achievements (Colombo beautification, floating markets, boat passenger service, road construction etc), I fail to see why you criticize them. They made Colombo into a place where people want to live and a place where tourists want to visit. Furthermore, he created a MODEL for other urban centers in Sri Lanka to EMULATE if Sri Lanka is to be successful in transforming itself into a modern country with civic pride! For the first time, it created HOPE IN ME that Sri Lanka can break out of the mold of disorganization, indiscipline, and lack of civic pride that bedevil South Asian countries. In fact, in the few years Gota had the responsibility and the means to effect a change, he transformed not only Colombo but several other towns and cities in Sri Lanka as well so successfully that people from other South Asian countries began commenting in news reports and articles on it, marvelling at HOW CLEAN Sri Lanka is compared to the rest of South Asia.

    That image of CLEANLINESS and BEAUTY that was created in the eyes of the world of this newly resurgent and beautiful Sri Lanka drove hundreds of thousands of more tourists to Sri Lanka, bringing in much needed foreign exchange, and creating more jobs for our people.

    If the Yamapalana TRAITORS had not ARRESTED and DESTROYED that drive towards the VISION of Sri Lanka as the emerging Wonder of Asia, we would today be RACING AT FULL SPEED to achieve escape velocity out of the third world status of our country.

    Gota’s efforts CONTRIBUTED MIGHTILY to the ECONOMIC SUCCESS we were about to achieve. I think you are QUITE WRONG in criticizing his “economic skills”.

  5. Dilrook Says:


    A similar sentiment was aired by The Island editorial today.

    We need to leave politics aside and resolve national problems before more Sinhala people perish to keep minority occupied areas clean and abundant with clean drinking water (while lack of clean drinking water kills Sinhala people in Rajarata and Rathupaswala).

    [Quote] Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would have us believe that his administration was about to launch a project to rid Meethotamulla of rotting garbage when it was dislodged in 2015. He seems to be blaming the people who defeated his administration, for the disaster! His government was in power long enough to solve the garbage problem. After all, it crushed terrorism in less than three years and built two expressways. While keeping urban areas clean by shifting municipal waste elsewhere it unveiled a grand plan to transport the Meethotamulla garbage all the way to Puttalam and dump it into deep pits left by the overexploitation of limestone for cement production. The proposed solution would have proved to be as bad as the problem! Unless the Rajapaksa government had been defeated it would have polluted another part of the country.

    Having brutally crushed a protest against groundwater pollution in Rathupaswala, the Rajapaksa regime may have felt confident that it would be able to overcome resistance to its garbage project in Puttalam in a similar manner. You don’t need a government to remove garbage from one place and dump it elsewhere, do you? That is what some irresponsible members of the public have been doing all these years! [Unquote]


  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    I am NOT politicking when I contest your WRONG characterization of Hota’s accomplishments after the war.

    He did many things that few other politicians revognized as essential to transgorming Sri Lanka to benefit the way we Sri Lankans live and manage our everyday lives. That is NOT politicking!

    This Island newspaper Editor is NOT THE ORACLE of TRUTH, WISDOM or SAGACITY or a MODEL of IMPARTIALITY: His manner of diminishing the accomplishments of the MR/UPFA govt demonstrates that. Qouting from your quote, he characterized that govt’s accomplishment as “defeating terrorism in e years and building two expressways”. Was that ALL the MR/UPFA GOSL did? Not by a long shot!

    He says you don’t need the govt to move garbage from one place to another! Oh yes, you do …. when it is a public health issue and requires the govt to allocate land and authorize removal and landfill operations against opposition from one group or the other motivated by Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) impulses.

    There will ALWAYS be one or two things that were not accomplished to the satisfaction of some group by ANY govt. Jump starting Colombo as a clean tourist city to generate income was a HIGH PRIORITY. RELOCATING festering mountains of open air garbage dumps in Colombo into a BURIED LANDFILL in a remote tursl location as an interim solution, until better solutions could be developed, was better than no solution at all.

    I urge you to READ Gota’s statements on this subject. He had done the preliminary research of trchnologoes to base his interim relocation solution on, because the problem was getting to be critical, as we now see from the Meethotamulla disaster. At least he had a solution ready and budgeted for implementation in 2015. What has the present Yamapalanaya done in 2 years?

    This Island Editor clearly has some iron of his own in the fire!

    Given the NIMBY aspects of garbage disposal, my PROPOSAL that MOST of the garbage should be disposed of, or transformed into energy/fertilizer, at the place the garbage is GENERATED is not only environmentally and economically advantageous, but it is POLITICALLY advantageous. We will then be saying to each LOCALITY: if your generate garbage, it is your responsibility to DISPOSE of it safely, according to the SAFETY standards the GOVT soecifies. If you don’t want to DISPOSE safely, then don’t generate it!

    The NIMBY issue is bedevilling the Disposal of Nuclear waste in the USA, with states in which waste reposotories are dcheduled to be built unwilling to accomodate nuclear waste generated in other states. The solution is to REQUIRE each state to SAFELY dispose of its own wasye within its own territory, come to a financial agreement with states willing to dispose of it in repositories built within those states, or forgo the generation of such waste (by nuclear power plants, hospitals etc). This is how Canada is approaching the issue. In the USA the federal govt is trying to force NEVADA to accept all the waste and it is not working.

    Nevada was chosen for building the US Nuclear Waste Repository at Yucca Mountain, because it was a REMOTE, largely uninhabited, desert-like low-rainfall area with relatively stable earthquake-free low-permeability volcanic-tuff geologic formations.

    That is, you choose a rural area with a low-population to dispose of waste, not a highly populated urban area. ERGO, the choice of Puttalam to dispose of Sri Lanka’s conventional garbage!

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Oops! The above comment was addressed to Dilrook in response to his citing the Island newspaper article!

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    By the time the MR Govt finished the war with the LTTE and Gota got down to the Urban projects, the west and INDIA had come down hard on the MR Govt re the ‘Contain China’ program.
    The west and even India did not help with the development efforts AFTER the war, of the MR Govt.
    In fact, the GSP plus was removed.

    We think Gota did his best, under the circumstances, to remove the garbage from Meethotamulla. Filling up the limestone quarries were a simple and possible solution for the problem in the short term. It is entirely possible that Gota’s plans included some kind of covers (plastic) for the train trollies carrying the garbage so that it was secured properly.
    Gota may have had uses for that quarry landfill area after the garbage broke down. Ask him.
    They might have had the idea to have a large area of solar panels to generate power, who knows ! Ask him.
    If I have stated anything incorrect here, please feel free to write in.

  9. Dilrook Says:


    Having seen problems being transferred instead of solving them, I’m no supporter of that approach. In 1991, Premadasa transferred all beggars on Colombo roads to Hambantota temporarily for the SAARC summit. The same was done in 2013 CHOGM. This time to Ridiyagama in Hambantota. For the same event, dogs on Colombo streets were transferred to Ja-Ela.

    Facing rising rabies and 700,000 dog bites annually (mostly by strays), then Health Minister Sirisena decided to cull 3 million dogs in 2012, a tough and for some an immoral decision. However, an earlier Health Minister’s wife opposed it apparently on humanitarian grounds. Ultimately it was not completely done but dogs in town areas were captured and released to rural areas. This was done by another ministry. Still, about 2,000 people get bitten daily and millions of dollars are spent on importing rabies vaccine. Sri Lanka may be the only island with such high rabies incidence. The trauma, loss of productivity and needless human death is unacceptable.

    City folk are safe and clean. Rural folk pay with their lives, again. Given cities have a different ethnic make up to rural dumping areas, there is an undeniable ethnic aspect as well. The victims are always the majority while the beneficiaries are always mostly the minorities. Voters of the majority must take note. Do they want to be the dumping grounds of mostly minorities’ problems? (Minority voters have proven they cannot be fooled by problem transfer. It is the majority that must come to the party before another disaster kills more of them.)

    I have already mentioned the lack of economic feasibility of the proposal. Hopefully, the government will resolve the problem than transfer it.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:


    You may have mentioned the ‘lack of economic feasibility of the oroposal’ but that assertion does not constitute a convincing argument.

    I, for one, don’t think it is not economically feasible.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    What was published as GR’s plan is only HALF the story.

    GR planned to BAN polythene and plastic bags throughout the country and then use COMPOST to fill up land cavities in PUTTALAM. It works. This will be UNPOPULAR that was why it was put off.

    It is a GOOD plan. It has NOTHING to do with RATHUPAWELA.

    IF commentators have a BETTER PLAN please say so. Don’t hide it!!

    (SPOILER – I will NOT hear any better plan.)

    On the dog killing, a 25 year mad dog disease injection contract was signed with GERMANY in 1997 by a SL company. IF mad dog disease REDUCES their PROFIT reduces!!

    DOGS, MOSQUITTOS and SNAKES are BIG BUSINESS in SL. You can see DOGS, MOSQUITTOS and SNAKES behind all these DEALS to save these “INNOCENT” animals!

    Same thing with a POPULAR DENTIST who is now the HEALTH MINISTER. DIG archives of newspapers about this man. This is what I found. In 1999 he was SACKED from parliament by CBK for supplying BAD MEDICINE (by a company he owns) to the ARMY. He came back again. Now he is the HEALTH MINISTER!! Do you see the DEAL?

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