Posted on April 24th, 2017

with Ravi Ladduwahetty Courtesy Ceylon Today

“A lot of people like lollipops. I don’t like lollipops. To me, a lollipop is hard candy plus garbage. I don’t need a handle. Just give me the candy”


The interview that Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadharshana Yapa had with this columnist in yesterday’s Sunday edition of the Ceylon Today says not just a mouthful, but a bellyful!

The Minister also disclosed that the underlying reasons for the incumbent crisis is the rapid urbanization of Colombo and more so of the suburbs which have almost become satellite towns. He also asserted that Colombo accumulates 900 metric tonnes of waste a day and the figure for the entire Colombo District which includes the Districts of Gampaha and Kalutara is a whopping 2,000 metric tonnes. However, what the Minister did not say or know is that there are 20 million polythene/ poly propylene bags, better known as the ‘sili sili bags’ and another 15 million lunch sheets (buth kola) which are used in the Colombo District, making the problem very frightening, at the mere sight of the statistics.

So, it is not only the government has to be blamed. However, much finger pointing has to be made at the poor consumer as well, who cannot be absolved of the issues at hand.

It is indeed heartening to note that President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Government are determined to find a sustainable solution to the issues at hand.

There will be new legislation to tackle the rot as we quoted the Minister. He also says that the new laws will also see that the consumer pays for the garbage and there will be massive fines for those who arbitrarily and irresponsibly throw garbage out onto the roads which could also pose health threats and other hazards too like the proliferation of animals such as monkeys. Enough is enough!

The members of the public have also to be blamed for resisting almost every strategy to find a solution in the last three decades which made the issue curioser!


The Minister also missed big time in the question on software development which could be usable in these efforts.

It is also moot to note that the Sahana software which was developed by the Sri Lankan NGO Sanasa which is being used in the USA is now being made use of in the cases of the Syrian refugees! Also another Sri Lankan Harsha Purasinghe, now runs his own corporate outfit in Silicon Valley, having prided himself as a college drop out! So, it has now transpired that Sri Lanka cannot draw the expertise of her own sons in technology.

Rings a bell! That has happened even in the case of international cricket.


Now rings the second bell! This columnist is also reminded of the quote of the Editor of the Wisden Cricket Almanac, widely acknowledged as the Bible of Cricket, which he said in the 1988 Edition under Sri Lanka …The country’s cricket has occupied the same confused state as other aspects of general life over there.

That was after Sri Lanka not sending the results of its First Class Tournament for seven consecutive years since election to full membership of the International Cricket Council in July 1981 and till 1986 under the stewardship of Editor John Woodcock and in 1987 under the stewardship of Editor Graeme Wright where the Wisden Cricket Almanac said under the chapter on Sri Lanka…The country report of Sri Lanka has not been received at the time this edition went to press. In 1988, in absolute desperation, the Wisden Almanac Editor Graeme Wright (1987-1992 and 2001/2) said: “The country’s cricket has occupied the same confused state as other aspects of general life over there…”

But, this columnist now believes that the reverse is more apt in the current context. The country’s other aspects of general life have occupied the same confused state of its cricket over there…!!!


The Minister was also quick to retract a tense situation and was incensed on the question about a measly Rs 100,000 for the beneficiaries of the dead vis-a-vis the million spent on the Bavarian limousines for politicians when he remarked that the priorities were to bring the situation under control and that the compensation would be higher for the destitute. So, the State is not that heartless after all.

The Minister’s erudition of the subject, being the Attorney he is and the analytical mind he has and the manner in which he skillfully handled the recalcitrant Sri Lanka Telecom trade unions who struck work at the drop of a hat, in his previous incarnation as Deputy Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Media in the first CBK Presidency in 1995, was indeed laudable.


But the irony of it is that he says that the Government cannot afford the big technology akin to Singapore. Bit funny that!

It should also be remembered that Singapore also started small and did not have the billions of Dollars when it started. But the heart of the matter is that they started their economic development and their per capita growth simultaneously with the environmental controls. They also, unlike Sri Lanka, did not have protesters at the commencement of every development project citing environmental reason and that it was detrimental to the environment. Examples such as the Norochcholai and Upper Kotmale Hydropower Projects come to mind.

The irony of this devastating problem is that all the solutions up to now have been repeated ad nauseum by different people.

Same wine in different bottles or same moonshine (kasippu) in different pots!


Anyway, the silver lining looming among the dark clouds is that the Ministry of Megapolis has developed three systems now, better than any one of the projects which have been tried and tested. But the heart of the matter is that the project will take around two and a half to three years to get off the ground. So, it is bound to be QUO VADIS SRI LANKA until such time!



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