Written by Staff Writer
20 Jul, 2019 | 9:19 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Ajith Weerasundara, Director of the Hazardous and Chemical Waste Management Unit, Central Environment Authority noted that they were able to witness containers waste full of mattresses and carpets and the company which imported them claimed that the containers arrived in the country due to a mistake. He finally added that following the inspections they ordered the company to return them to the sender.
Although the officials of the Central Environmental Authority made such statements regarding the shipping containers on the 17th of this month, more details have come to light.
The Central Environment Authority has released footage of waste material dumped a the Katunanyake Free Trade Zone, to the media. The footage shows the manner in which liquid and solid waste piled up at the location is being released into the environment.
The Central Environmental Authority further adds that the site does not have a waste disposal system in place and garbage particles are being carried away by the wind polluting the surroundings.
Meanwhile, issuing a press release yesterday, the Central Environmental Authority said that the garbage consignment was imported by Hayleys Free Zone Ltd. located at the Katunayake Export Processing Zone No.4.
The Central Environmental Authority went on to note that the company had not obtained the required Environmental Protection License (EPL) and Hazardous Waste Management License for the import of this nature.
The Central Environmental Authority said, 130 containers containing 27,685 metric tons of industrial waste were amassed across an area of reaching up to 50,000 square feet.
The CEA added that orders have been issued to send the garbage back to the country from which they originated, as hazardous waste cannot be imported into the country according to the national waste management policy.
The Central Environmental Authority also said that according to the gazette issued on the 11th of July 2013, this company operated within the Katunayaka Export Processing Zone, as a re-export activities centre.
According to the gazette, if a company or institution is to be established of this nature, a minimum of 65% of the total investment must be funded through foreign sources.
The gazette further states that the new company and the board of investment must sign a minimum investment agreement amounting to US$ 5mn or Rs 878.9mn.
Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero, President Surakimu Sri Lanka National Movement shared his thoughts on the matter.
The Thero noted that the gazette was approved for the fancy of one or two businessmen. He added that the damage caused to nature is incalculable as the waste is discharged into water streams via rainwater and finally he noted that the government must intervene, and re-export these garbage containers to its origin.
Meanwhile, 102 garbage containers are currently held at the CICT terminal of the Colombo port, while the Department of Customs is due to make a statement to the media on Monday, July 22nd.
Environmentalist, Jayantha Wijesinghe noted that the deputy minister stated that the perpetrators of the heinous crime will be arrested however he questioned whether the arrest will be definitely made? He noted that laws imposed on citizens such as fining for burning a polythene bag were wise but he questioned why does it take long to bring those who are accountable of bringing shiploads of garbage before the law?
He continuously noted that the perpetrators should be arrested and private companies should not be allowed to amend laws for their personal benefit. He added that their business license should be revoked immediately. He finally added that sending back garbage was not enough and those who are responsible should be punished.
Meanwhile, following all the ruckus regarding the garbage shipments, Hayleys Free Zone Limited issued a statement responding to allegations raised against them with regard to the importation of garbage containers.
The release states that the company has no connection to the cargo that is lying at the Port of Colombo.
It added that Hayleys Free Zone Limited is not the importer nor consignee nor logistics services provider in respect of the said containers.
It said “There has also been adverse media publicity with regard to an earlier shipment, which was also not imported by HFZ. The said shipments were sent to HFZ by the importer for the purposes of processing and re-export. Some such cargo has already been processed and re-exported”
The statement goes on to note that the containers received by HFZ did not contain any garbage or other waste material as alleged in several media reports.
In its Press Release, Hayley’s Free Zone seems to be going to great lengths to explain that it isn’t an importer and is, therefore, NOT responsible for the haul of garbage discovered at the Hayley’s Free Zone in Katunayake.
If a company knows that there is hazardous material that has been illegally imported and stored for several years in its own facility, then it is imperative that as a responsible company to report activity and cease operations.
It is very suspicious that this organization hasn’t done this and instead chosen to offer implausible, trivial excuses once it has been exposed by the authorities and media.
The leader of the opposition, Mahinda Rajapaksa was reached regarding the matter he noted he was involved in the import during his tenure.
However the UNP MP, Mujibur Rahman noted that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa certainly allowed Dhammika Perera to bring down garbage to the island. He added that Mahinda Rajapaksa and Dhammika Perera maintained close relationships during his tenure and Mahinda Rajapaksa on several occasions provided bribes to Dhammika Perera to satisfy him. He finally added that President Maithripala Sirisena is the Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment today and he requests him to immediately take legal action in this regard.
He accepted that practice of laws in Sri Lanka differs based on whether the individual/group is privileged or underprivileged and this has been going on ever since and it needs to stop.
State Minister Ashok Abeysinghe was questioned by journalists regarding investigations into the import of garbage at a press briefing today(July 20).
Minister noted that the CID has been assigned to investigate this matter and to find out how the consignment was released from customs, the importers responsible in this regard, and how the consignment was placed at its current location. He added that the Central Environmental Authority has launched an investigation as well. He finally assured that the government will take action and punish those responsible for the crime.
DESPITE THE STATEMENT MADE BY THE STATE MINISTER IN KURUNEGALA THIS MORNING, THAT INVESTIGATIONS IN THIS REGARD WERE HANDED OVER TO THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DEPARTMENT, POLICE MEDIA SPOKESPERSON SP RUWAN GUNESEKARA CONFIRMED THAT SUCH A COMPLAINT OR ORDER WAS NOT RECEIVED BY THE CID, EVEN BY 2.30PM.
ARE SUCH FALSE STATEMENTS MADE TO PROTECT THE BUSINESSMEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE IMPORT OF GARBAGE INTO SRI LANKA?
SHOULD NOT THE GOVERNMENT TAKE ACTION AGAINST THOSE WHO MAKE SUCH FALSE STATEMENTS TO THE MEDIA?
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