All signs are Garbage issue won’t be resolved even by 2060

Garbage: Heed CM’s proposal (Island Editorial)

The main difference between Sri Lanka and the rest of the world is that the latter is manically focused on economic development and the former is still grappling with basic issues which should have been sorted out decades ago such as mountains of garbage. It was only the other day that a visiting Japanese disaster management team said in Colombo that Japan had solved the waste problem way back in the 1960s in response to public protests. All signs are that our politicians won’t be able to tackle the issue even by 2060.

What really snuffed out so many lives in Meethotamulla the other day was not garbage as such but corruption, so to speak. Garbage has become a goldmine for politicians at all levels. There have been several proposals to remove the Meethotamulla garbage dump, but some politicians have scuttled them. Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya revealed, in an interview with Bandula Jayasekera on Sirasa TV yesterday, that he had asked for a government land encompassing about 60 perches to start a project with a British company to segregate, recycle and remove the Meethotamulla garbage replete with harmful heavy metals, but in vain. He said he had sought help from the Urban Development Authority (UDA), President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to launch the project only to be disappointed.

Cartoon added from the internetImage result for Sri Lanka garbage cartoons

President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a commission to probe the garbage issue. There have been many such commissions, but the problems they are intended to solve continue to trouble us. Most of them are toothless. It is hoped that the Western Province Chief Minister will be summoned before the aforesaid commission so that he will be able reveal why his plan to clear the Meethotamulla garbage came a cropper. He told Sirasa that his plans had gone awry because certain persons could not get their palms greased. Under the previous government everything became a deal and nothing got done unless the ruling party politicians and their kith and kin benefited from them. The situation hasn’t changed in spite of the 2015 regime change.

Let the Cabinet be urged to study Chief Minister Devapriya’s project and see whether it is feasible.

Finding facts

On Thursday, Justice K. T. Chitrasiri, Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the alleged bond scams, happened to declare that his outfit was only a fact finding one and it could not punish anyone. He made no revelation. That its mandate does not provide for prosecution is only too well known.

Bond scams perhaps may get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most probed issue in the world! It was first investigated by the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) in 2015 under the chairmanship of UPFA MP D. E. W. Gunasekera. The second probe was conducted by the COPE with JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti as the Chairman. Now, presidential commission inquiry is currently underway. It was also investigated by a committee consisting of UNP lawyers. Enough and more facts about the bond rackets have already been found and what needs to be done now is to have the culprits arrested just like the Joint Opposition MPs who are made to languish in remand prison for alleged abuse of public property.

Nobody in his proper senses expects the government to punish those responsible for the bond scams. For, that will be plain political suicide for the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration, which captured power by promising to eliminate bribery and corruption. If any of the politically connected bond racketeers were to be sacrificed by any chance, he would surely rat on the mastermind behind the racket before being thrown behind bars. Therefore, the powers that be are all out to ensure that the culprits will get away with the mega financial crime.

Some of the much-publicised probe committees and presidential commissions of inquiry, appointed by successive governments, have been like fake wrestling matches on TV. Those well rehearsed contests look real and are very entertaining. But, nobody gets hurt.