Meethotamulla: Contempt of the Supreme Court?
Posted on April 27th, 2017

Dr. M. W. N. Dharmawardene Courtesy The Island

Much has been written on the foreseen disaster which could have been averted easily and was a manmade disaster by the authorities of CMC, by their sheer neglect by piling tonnes & tonnes of rubbish of Colombo on the hapless Meethotamulla residents, in spite of their continuous protests not do so. What use is it of having the so called Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, UNHRC of the World body, and so called NGOs shedding crocodile tears on dogs’ rights and elephant rights, but not the human rights of the Meethotamulla residents inspire of their pleadings?

Moreover, there is a Ministry for Disaster Management but unfortunately it has no foresight or action plan for mitigation of disasters, and is ever blind to even the man made disasters happening daily next door to it, let alone natural disasters. Anybody with a little knowledge of microbiology knows that dumping & piling rubbish in wet zone marshy areas will lead to accumulation of such dumps and not to their degradation, leading to emanation of green house gases and explosions, due to spontaneous ignition of methane, which could even mimic earthquakes. Large scale landfills and composting should be done only in dry and arid zones of the country, and not elsewhere. Why was this principle in basic science ignored? What was the reason for apathy and neglect by the CEA to monitor such dumps and advice the authorities for migratory action?

There is no way of denying that the prime responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Municipal Commissioner, the former Mayor & the UNP which held the power of the CMC continuously after the defeat of Dr. N.M. Perera being the Mayor of Colombo. I recollect vividly how I, as a young lecturer in Biology after my postgraduate studies in UK, and returning to the country in the Seventies with determination to do my stint giving up all the lucrative postgraduate positions in UK, urged none other than Honourable Karu Jayasuriya, then Mayor of Colombo, to device a similar system of garbage disposal for Colombo as used in many counties of the UK. This was by setting up an anaerobic digestor generator system under Colombo CMC as done in UK then in the Seventies and well established there, which serves not only to light the roads and homes of Counties in the UK, but also to control all the pollution while producing a rich organic fertilizer.


Collapsed Meethotamulla garbage dump

In fact, I published an article titled “Bio gas generators for Power, fertilizer & pollution control” in the middle page of the Ceylon Daily News in the Mid 1970s, urging this be put into action in daily garbage collection by CMC. In fact, when this appeared in the CDN, an eminent professor from UK, Professor Dowdswell who was on an ODA assignment with Kelaniya University Botany Dept. then asked me, Nande, I saw an excellent write up by you in the press this morning, and I want to know how many politicians & VIPS phoned you up to take action. I said none! Oh! Is that so, he exclaimed in surprise and disgust, and told me that if such an excellent piece appeared in the daily press in UK, the author would have been deluged by callers promising action, and to work together to set it up. He said bringing new ideas is the essence of success. You have done it, but if your country fails you, then one day they will realize it. This he said is the difference between your country & UK, I guess, he said. Taking the cue from him, I sent the article to then Lord Mayor of Colombo, none other than the present Hon. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, whom I had a very high regard and respect, for he always acknowledged any letter sent to him. In this case too, I remember, he acknowledged my letter with the article and that he passed it to CMC Chief Engineer for necessary action.

Unfortunately, I never heard anything from the Engineer, except that, as far as he could grasp, the ideas & concepts were too new to him, and the land fill in some place in Seetawaka is the solution he would advocate. Then, I pointed out to Hon. Karu Jayasuriya that, nobody would want somebody else’s daily rubbish even as land fill, and as Mayor of Colombo he should not be a party to that sin and disgrace to be called the Mayor who dumped Colombo rubbish in the Sitawaka backyard. I never heard anything from Hon. Karu Jayasuriya on that matter thereafter, but it is clear how the prophecy and one of the best solutions then proposed in the 1970s had been negated by bureaucracy of the CMC; because Chief Engineer of CMC then had no knowledge of the advance technologies used even then by developed countries to mitigate urban rubbish and put it to equitable use of man.

Now, it was published in the daily press last morning that CMC and Successive governments, and Chief Ministers have, willfully or otherwise, chosen to ignore the Supreme Court order made in year 2009 that garbage dumping at Meethotamulla is restricted to TWO years, and confined to an area of 2 acres only. Thus, any dumping of Colombo rubbish since 2012 and spreading over 16 acres, stands clearly in Contempt of the Supreme Court. Thus the Head of Previous Cabinet & Cabinet of Ministers, and the Head of Present Govt, Head of CMC & Clearly the PM who has given an assurance in 2015 election citing the same, who were fully aware of the Supreme Court order, will have to answer to Supreme Court in the name of all those who sacrificed their lives, bringing their plight to the attention of the world, and disgracing the whole country. Why should they not be charged for contempt of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka? The question is: Who will bell the cat?

Dr. M. W. N. Dharmawardene


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