Sri Pada Turns Into A Dumping Ground

by Ifham Nizam

Unless strict action is immediately taken to ban plastics and polythene, Sri Lanka will continue to suffer number of garbage related issues, environmentalists and scientists warn.

Many expressed concern last week after it was reported that more than a million plastic bottles were collected from Sri Pada area which was discarded by pilgrims who had travelled to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) for past few months.

Environmentalists point out that during months of May and December, some organisations collect garbage especially bottles and plastics from Sri Pada area. However, despite awareness campaigns the trend goes on.

Many are of the view that that though there are polices and guidelines especially by the state institutions like the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), but the enforcement is not satisfactory.

When contacted, Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Hemantha Withanage told The Sunday Leader that agencies such as CEA is responsible for  plastics and polythene issue not only in Sri Pada but for the whole country.

He said that there was a cabinet appointed technical committee which he was part of and they produced guidelines and regulations to control and ban polythene and plastics.


Producer responsibility

He stressed: “There is no other way to stop this other than banning polythene and introduce extended producer responsibility where the producer would take the responsibility to recycle the bottles and e-waste etc.”

When it comes to plastic bottles and polythene, CEJ have filed action against the garbage gazette, asking for a scientific waste management policy and a mechanism.

“It should be based on zero waste policy. Earlier, we had 3R which is Reduce Reuse Recycle but now all developed countries promote zero waste. This means all waste should be treated as resources for another production process,” he stressed.

A CEA official said that they have limited resources. However, they are in the process of taking all relevant measures making sure for a cleaner environment and rich biodiversity.

He stressed that when it comes to the disposal of plastic bottles, it is a common problem worldwide. Millions of single-use bottles end up in landfill sites or in oceans and a very small proportion are recycled.

“It is the same in Sri Lanka, of course we have strict measures. There are shortcomings as usual when it comes to implementation,” he said.

World Heritage Site

Environmentalist, Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam who is also Director of the Center For Environment and Nature Studies said that the road leading from Sri Pada to Nallathanni and  the surrounding areas were declared as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO a few years back,

He says in other words there should be no construction or renovation without a valid reason and appropriate approvals from the authorities concerned, especially from the UNESCO committee.

It was declared as one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka for the ecological and biological diversities which need to be protected and reserved without any harm being done to the site.

“Sri Pada has a lot of tourist attraction and was supposed to be protected by the government. But it is being damaged and threatened in the expectation of boosting the tourism industry in the country is not an appropriate plan by the government. Projects aren’t sustainable nor will they be a contributing factor to the tourism industry. The government needs to understand the reality before allowing such projects in such a holy place where  people of all religions worship,” he said.

No private and domestic buildings were allowed in close proximity of Sripada for over several years and the government that needs to protect the place is trying to put up unnecessary constructions. The false claims of the developers should be seriously looked into,  he noted.  Some claim to provide facilities for the devotees who visit the place from various places all around the country and also to foreigners.

“According to the Flora and Fauna Act, they cannot even cut down a single tree in the site how can they clear an area of 99 acres for the construction? Who has the authority to allow such projects in a UNESCO protected site.”

Adam’s Peak is worshipped by all people of the country, the Sinhalese Tamils and Muslims by giving various names for the mountain and the sacred footprint. Adam’s Peak is important also as a watershed.


Precious stones

The districts to the south and the east of Adam’s Peak yield precious stones, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, one thing the island has been famous for. The development projects and the luxury hotels will endanger the sanctuary which is filled with plants and trees.

“We are not against building luxury hotels and cable wire cars to boost tourism in Sri Lanka but Sripada is a place for worship and a UNESCO world heritage site, the government should put in place immediate measures to stop the ongoing project and to conserve the reservation,” he added. He also told The Sunday Leader that they had been campaigning since 2001 from the days at Young Zoologists Association (YZA).

.He also said that they had taken up the matter several times with Sabaragamuwa Pradeshiya Sabawa and with the then Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. A report in the British based The Guardian says that it’s estimated Americans throw away at least 50 million bottles every day. Every year, a UK household uses 480 plastic bottles, but only recycles 270 of them, according to Recycle Now, a campaign group funded by the government’s waste advisory group Wrap.  A survey by Greenpeace found five out of six global soft drinks firms sold single-use plastic bottles weighing more than two million tones only 6.6 per cent of which was recycled plastic.

Recycling in Sweden, for example, is so effective that they have to import waste to turn into energy, but in most countries schemes are either less efficient or don’t exist at all.

2 Comments for “Sri Pada Turns Into A Dumping Ground”

  1. Sangaralingham

    Get on it with all of you. Keep the mountains cities clean. Cleanliness of the society reflect underlying mentality of the individuals. Sanitations garbage management is a social issue and part of individual responsibility how they deal with garbage. Collectively whether you like it or not each and everyone must take the blame. Tell your children family garbage random throwing is reflection of social responsibility. Dispose at designated site.
    Children must be taught at school.everyone must get the message via tv radio and other media

  2. over the years religion too has been routed and treated so, going by the display we receive as daily dosage of such ceremonies. Has society got better? The worse is when politicians use it as a cover up and for image building. Only a few members pf the clergy live a true dedicated life as priests and shun publicity. Some of the places of worship look like palaces and not the ideal or correct atmosphere for worship and meditation.

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