By Chathuri Dissanayake
With plans to sweep up the waste problem in the country, Megapolis Minister Champika Ranawaka appealed for public support to implement the proposed projects.
As an initial step to address the growing waste problem in the country, the Megapolis Ministry plans to create a sanitary landfill project costing $ 120 million in Aruwakkaru, in Puttalam, utilising an abandoned limestone quarry. Plans have been drawn up for three more incineration plants with an individual capacity of treating 500 tonnes a day.
“We want everyone’s support. We plan to create awareness among all stakeholders regarding the new project and I request everyone to support us. This is not a responsibility of the ministry but we have taken it up. But if there is political pressure and opposition then we will abandon the project as we have no intention of fighting with anyone,” Ranawaka warned, speaking at a press conference yesterday.
To ensure public support for the project, the ministry plans to first treat waste generated by the Puttalam area. However, the landfill, which is similar to the one built in Padukka, has the capacity to process 50% of waste generated in the Western Province for the next 10 years.
The ministry is currently holding negotiations with the World Bank to obtain a loan facility to fund the project. However, the Government has allocated an initial sum of Rs. 500 million to commence the project immediately, Metro Colombo Waste Management Project Director Jayavilal Fernando told Daily FT.
A further sum of Rs. 2 billion will be given by the Government this year while another Rs. 4 billion is to be used next year. The World Bank has expressed its willingness to reimburse the money spent if a final agreement is reached on granting a loan facility for the project, Fernando said.
The project proposes to transport waste collected from Colombo to the landfill utilising existing railway lines. A transfer site is to be set up in a 64-acre wetland in Kelaniya, where waste transported from Colombo and other urban areas will be compressed and loaded onto railway wagons and transferred to the landfill site.
The project has already completed its Environmental Impact Assessment and is awaiting approval from the Central Environment Authority, the Minister said.
“We expect the project to receive approval within this month. And we can commence work thereafter. The project is expected to be completed in 2019,” he said.
Following the approval, the ministry will be calling for tenders for the construction work involved in the project. This will include construction of the transfer plant and the landfill site, Ranawaka said.
“We will be calling for local and international construction companies to submit proposals. We aim to start construction by September this year,” he said.
The ministry initiated three more waste treatment plants as private-public partnership ventures with investments of above $ 100 million each. Three different private sector partners have been selected for each project by the implementing government agencies.
The Colombo incineration plant, managed by Colombo Municipal Council, has selected the Western Power Company, while a PPP agreement has been signed with Fairway holdings for the Karadiyana waste treatment plant, while a Korean company, K.C.H.T Jang, has been awarded the contract for the Muthurajawela waste treatment plant. The three plants will be utilising technology shared by Korea, Germany and Denmark, Fernando said.
“The agreement is that the Government will supply the waste material for the project and pay the tariff bills, whereas the private companies are to set up the treatment plants and invest in the equipment,” he explained.
Two companies, Western Power Company and K.C.H.T. Jang, have already completed the EIAs and are awaiting approval, which Fernando expects will be granted within two months.