Meethotamulla Garbage mountain collapsed causing many unfortunate deaths including children, destroying a large number of houses and injuring hundreds.Still many remain buried under the garbage mountain.
The accident took place in Kolonnawa on the borders of the capital city of Colombo on 14 April (Sinhala/Tamil New Year day) when heavy rains combined with a fire at the dump site led to a collapse of the mountain of rubbish. By 17 April the death toll was 29 and around 30 persons are missing. Six of the deceased were children.
The 300 foot mountain of waste that grew relentlessly over time, was a catastrophe in the waiting, as prompted by many. According to reports close upon 150 low income homes in the area were affected by the fall of the 23 million-tonne pile-up. Families living close to the dump had repeatedly brought the matter to the attention of the authorities. They complained of the terrible stench, unhygienic conditions and the risks of an eminent disaster. The newspapers and TV channels too ran repeated news stories. But their complaint and the agony of the people fell on deaf ears. Each successive government has managed to ignore the continuous suffering of the people in these hazardous environs.
We are aware that landfills have led to some of the most heated, acrimonious battles over pollution in the public commons. While there are a number of reasons for the vehement arguments that often surround landfills, one of the largest is the juxtaposition of both the understood need for landfills and the lack of will to live near one. With the population skyrocketing across the country particularly in the suburbs of the capital city, these landfills will only become more and more of an acute public issue as time goes on.
Despite the arguments over landfills in general, there are no arguments over the assertion that there are many things that contribute to the environmental problem of landfills. Those living in the capital city should realize that they are also responsible in more ways than one for the disaster which happened in Meethotamulla due to the haphazard ways in which they dispose waste.
The environmental problems caused by landfills are numerous. In addition to threats to groundwater, landfills give off potentially harmful gases, and odours will often permeate the neighbourhoods. Some studies show that birth defects increase in communities surrounding landfills. Landfills are often classified by the type of waste they can accept: Municipal waste, medical waste, special waste, or hazardous waste landfills are four common types. Because even our household waste contains toxic chemicals, it is not significantly safer to live near a municipal or special waste landfill than one that accepts more toxic waste.
The solution to waste rests in reducing the volume and the toxicity of our garbage. Zero Waste aims for the elimination of, rather than simply the “management” of, waste. “Waste” is something cast off with little to no value – but many items individuals throw away have value to other people, businesses, and communities.
A city with poor sanitation, smelly and with waste matter all over the place do not attract good people, investors and tourists. Such cities tend to have poor living standards.
To preserve the beauty of our surroundings every citizen need to join the drive for Zero Waste. We can achieve this goal by following three simple methods: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Reduce- The best way to manage waste is to not produce it. This can be done by shopping carefully
Reuse- It makes economic and environmental sense to reuse products. Sometimes it takes creativity
Recycle - Recycling is a series of steps that takes a used material and processes, remanufactures, and sells it as a new product. Begin recycle at home.