National plan to tackle waste

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 00:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Chathuri Dissanayake

In a bid to control escalating waste mismanagement by local authorities, the Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry launched a drive to develop a national waste management strategy yesterday. 

The Ministry has also allocated Rs. 5.24 billion to improve waste management at a local level while taking steps to establish control centres in each district to monitor the collection and transportation of garbage. 

“We need to find immediate, medium- and long-term strategies to the waste issue and on how to tackle dengue. With the situation escalating, where foreign missions have even advised tourists not to visit the country, this has become a national issue,” Provincial Council and Local Government Ministry Secretary H.T. Kamal Pathmasiri said.

He was  speaking to representatives from nine provincial councils at the Foundation Institute. 

The ministry summoned officials from the provincial councils to develop a national strategy to address the country’s waste management issue and dengue crisis. 

Despite efforts made by local authorities to encourage waste generators to segregate waste at the source to streamline recycling efforts, 250 MT out of 600 MT does not get segregated, Pathmasiri said.

“We need a change in the attitude as well. We have been able to reduce waste from 800 MT collected each day to 600 MT through separation at the source method. But yet there are people who refuse to comply with the efforts to effectively manage waste,” he said.  

At present only 15% of the waste generated is managed systematically, National Solid Waste Management Support Centre Director A.B. Ilangasinghe highlighted. The 335 local authorities in the country have only 162 composting plants out of which 132 are functional. 

To address the shortcomings, the Government has allocated Rs. 5,240 million to provide the resources needed for local authorities to effectively manage the issue. 

“We have been granted $ 50 million by the World bank to provide immediate solutions to the crisis. So money is not the problem here. We have funds,” Pathmasiri said. 

According to the Provincial Council and Local Government Ministry, the fund allocation through a loan facility given by the Korean Government includes Rs. 1,660 million for the purpose of buying 190 compactor machines for garbage collection, while the Government has allocated another Rs. 1,000 million to purchase 100 more machines. 

“This will solve the problem of waste transportation that we are now facing,” Pathmasiri told the audience. 

To battle the dengue crisis presently affecting a number of districts, the Government has allocated another Rs. 600 million to be distributed among local government authorities. 

The ministry also plans to set up a taskforce in each province to troubleshoot and monitor waste management, while each district has been instructed to set up control centres to effectively monitor waste transportation and address shortcomings.