Written by Staff Writer
19 Jul, 2019 | 9:43 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): State Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Ajith Mannapperuma responding to questions posed by journalists during a media briefing held today (July 19) commented on the import of the garbage containers to the country.
The Minister says that the person responsible for bringing the 102 containers to the country will be dealt with according to the legal provisions. When questioned if the legalities would be carried out tomorrow, the State Minister only said that it will take a reasonable amount of time to implement the law.
The State Minister continued to say that although this matter is illegal, that the immediate action that was taken was to hold these containers at the port after which they will order the responsible companies to send them back to the country of origin. He assured that the garbage will not be allowed to be processed in the country but that they will not confiscate them. He further said that the third step is where they punish the people responsible.
When the State Minister was repeatedly questioned as to why the people involved are still out in the open, he assured that those individuals will not be allowed to roam free.
– Is it political power? Or is it the power of money? Or is it the power of their companies? What is it? –
The State Minister assures that the court proceedings are not influenced by political powers. He further said that he has no knowledge of who brought them down to the country and that he only is aware that the containers are at the port. The Minister was then questioned if he did or did not look into the matter since he was unaware of who brought them down, to which the State Minister replied that he did look into it and that investigation is currently ongoing where the containers are being opened and the content is inspected.
When he was questioned why the matter is delayed, the State Minister said that if the matter is to be rushed that they will also have to act like how the law was implemented against Sarath Fonseka when he was grabbed by the ear and thrown into prison. He noted that their government is not to establish such laws in the country.
The State Minister was battered with the questions as to why the responsible parties are still allowed to roam free, he only replied that they protect the environment and not the person, while also assuring that he will personally take responsibility that no is allowed to sneak in.
Meanwhile, the Central Environment Authority issuing a media release stated that Hayleys Free Zone Limited which is located in Zone C of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone had imported this consignment of garbage. The Central Environment Authority also pointed out that this company does not possess an environmental permit or permit to import hazardous waste material.
During the last few days News 1st reported that 130 containers laden with garbage have been piled up at the premises of a private company inside the Katunayake Free Trade Zone. Another 102 garbage containers, currently held by customs, are placed at the Colombo International Container Terminal in the Colombo port.
A communique issued under the signature of the Director-General of the Central Environment Authority or the CEA Hemantha Jayasinghe stated that the garbage is being stored in an unsafe environment.
Officials of the CEA who inspected the site discovered that liquid and solid waste piled up at the location is being released into the environment. According to the CEA 27,685 tonnes of waste has been piled up at the site over an area that spans across 50,000 square feet.
The CEA said that orders have been issued to send the garbage back to the country from which they were imported from, as hazardous waste cannot be imported into the country according to the national waste management policy. The communique issued by the Director-General of the CEA also notes that the company has been strictly warned against importing such garbage in the future.
It added that as the company did not possess the required permits to import the garbage, legal actions will be taken under the National Environmental Act. The CEA further stated that this area inside the Karunayake Free Trade zone had been used for entrepot trade involving import, minor processing and re-export under a Gazette issued on the 11th of July 2013.
Meanwhile, the head of the company responsible for clearing this consignment of garbage made this revelation to News 1st today. Owner of Sign Logistics Private Limited, Rushan Perera said that generally when an importer’s cargo comes to the port that it cannot be cleared alone which definitely has to be done through a company such as Sign Logistics. He added that companies like them have the required permits from the port and the customs to provide required services.
He also claimed that from what he remembers that their company cleared 130 containers and not 250 as it is alleged. The owner of this company admitted to having cleared this consignment. He further said that although they did provide this service for another company, that the reason why they were only brought under the spotlight is that they are the authorized service providers with names registered at the customs.
J: — If you brought in a container full of garbage you cannot shy away from the responsibility by saying that you simply don’t know. —
The owner of the company responded that the cargo is sent to the relevant companies even without it being inspected by the customs officials because of which they do not get to see what is inside these containers. He further said that what they do is calculate duties that should be paid as per the documents sent and clear the cargo from the port. The company owner also said that even though these containers were brought under the name of another company that they are also only providing a service. He clarified that he provided the service to Hayleys and that Hayleys provided their service to another company.
When inquired who the third party is, he only said that he really does not know of the matter, since it does not concern him and since he clears about 600-700 containers or even more than that every month for Hayleys.
Importing garbage into the country is a crime. Will the law be implemented against the people who imported this garbage?
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