Karadiyana waste management project:
Turning garbage into a resource
Site Manager Karadiyana garbage dump Kosala Gunawardena
The lush greenery and the waterways all around accompanied with the
cool and misty weather due to rains gives the impression that we are in
The scenic Bolgoda lake in its calm environment adds more beauty to
the area. No wonder it inspired poets and lyricists to come out with
However, trucks and tractors loaded with heaps of garbage lined up in
a queue and the stench emanating from the garbage mounts take you to an
entirely different world in a few minutes, as you enter the Karadiyana
garbage dumping site in Boralesgamuwa adjoining the Bokundara village.
Twenty five acres of marshy land in Karadiyana in Boralesgamuwa has
become a site to dump more than 400 metric tonnes of garbage collected
from four local government bodies in the Colombo suburbs-the Dehiwala
Mount Lavinia and Moratuwa Municipal Councils and Kesbewa and
Boralesgamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha for many years.
Considering that 60 percent of the country's garbage collected from
the western province which represents only six percent of the land mass
of the country it is not a matter for surprise to see mountains of
garbage in the western province invading the lush greenery left in the
If not for the intervention of the government, politicians
representing the area, government officials and residents living around
the Karadiyana dumping site which was earlier handled by a private
company, would have been easily turned into another garbage mountain
like the Bloemendhal site in Colombo.
The law suit against the private company and the timely intervention
of ministers led by Gamini Lokuge, A.H.M. Fowzie and the Western
Provincial Council Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has avoided that
disaster by taking the site under the Western Province Waste Management
Kosala Gunawardena the site manager of the Karadiyana garbage dumping
site said the private company which was handling the dumping site
without adhering to environmentally accepted scientific methods had
caused immense health, environmental and social hazards in the area
spreading dengue and making the aquatic species in the Bolgoda Lake
As the private company has not followed conditions laid out by the
Central Environment Authority, the site was handed over to the Western
Province Waste Management Authority (WMA) in 2010.
"Local authorities had paid exorbitant prices for dumping garbage at
the site but there was no proper management of that garbage by the
company. It was handed over to us with a backlog of more than 4,000
metric tonnes of garbage collected over ten days", Gunawardena said.
Karadiyana garbage dump - prior to Waste Management Authority
taking over and today
Trucks and tractors loaded with garbage await their turn for
Weighing garbage at the dump
A mafia was handling the recyclable waste collected from the dump by
poor peasants living around grabbing their valued collection at a cheap
The Police and local politicians came forward to control this mafia
in the effort by the WMA to make the site more environmental friendly to
prevent health and environmental hazards.
About 25 people who collected valued items like plastic and metal and
copper from the site were registered with the WMA and were provided with
boots, nose pads, gloves and uniforms streamlining activities within the
"We provided them a platform to sell their collections and brought in
companies to purchase their collection at a reasonable price",
This enabled the increase of the daily earnings of these peasants
from a mere Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 per day to nearly Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,000.
Deputy Inspector General Anura Senanayake who is in charge of the
environmental police helped the WMA and the police officers of the area
to control the big mafia running this thriving business of grabbing the
wealth of the peasants.
The WMA went ahead with its responsibility of turning the garbage
dumping site into a more environmentally friendly one clearing the
backlog left behind by the company and smoothly handling more than 400
metric tonnes of garbage brought in by the four local government bodies.
"Within three days we could clear the backlog and we had the capacity
to handle it. We had the determination that we can manage the site with
the available resources as the chief minister and the heads of the WMA
were extending their support", Kosala added.
To handle 400 metric tonnes collected on a daily basis, a person was
selected by open tender and provided facilities for collecting
recyclable garbage by keeping ten per cent of the daily collection with
The garbage brought to the site in vehicles are weighted on arrival
and pressed using heavy machinery.
"With the pressure, the bags open and small layers of soil laid on
the dump to avoid odour coming out of the site", he said.
Facilities such as access roads and sleepers to facilitate the
vehicle movement on the site were made available with the speedy
intervention of Provincial Chief Minister Prasanna Ranathunga.
Kosala Gunawardena at work
"Minister Basil Rajapaksa on the request of the chief minister
allocated funds to construct the access roads and the roads within the
site", he said.
The operations of the site is under the close scrutiny of the
Karadiyana Site Review Committee.
"Even Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who extended his support
by providing us soil to lay on the garbage through the Land Reclamation
and Development Corporation is monitoring the activities of the site",
Representatives from the village, the CEA, LRDC, Grama Sevakas,
Divisional Secretary, Disaster Management Centre are included in the
committee and they meet monthly to review activities of the project.
Dumping garbage and managing it properly is not the only objective of
the WMA. "We hope to produce compost out of the garbage collected and to
generate energy using garbage", Gunawardena said.
On January 26, the foundation was laid to construct a compost yard at
the site. With the establishment of this compost manufacturing yard 100
metric tonnes of perishable waste can be used to manufacture compost on
a daily basis.
"Using 100 metric tonnes of perishable waste per day means we can
handle 200 metric tonnes of normal waste on a daily basis since there is
about 50 percent of solid waste which can be used for compost
manufacturing", Gunawardena said.
The Western Provincial Council has provided Rs.80 million out of the
Rs.107 million of the total project cost. The balance will be funded by
the Pilisaru program of the Environment Ministry.
"We will be able to start manufacturing compost fertilizer by the end
of this year", he added.
Apart from this, experiments are on to make use of the methane gas
emanating from the site for power generation.
"Methane is 21 times more detrimental to global warming than carbon
dioxide and what we are trying is to collect at least a percentage of it
without allowing it to add to the air", Gunawardena said.
The Provincial Irrigation Department and the Disaster Management
Authority helps avoid leachate of the site flowing to the canals and the
Bolgoda lake preventing water pollution.
Mangroves will be cultivated in the surrounding areas to provide
greenery to make the site eco-friendly.
Deputy Director WMA Nalin Mannapperuma said the support of the public
is essential for the project to reach its ultimate goal.
"We need the support of the public by way of separating the garbage
and adhering to proper garbage collecting methods, he said.
"We are promoting the seven steps of waste management-managing the
waste at the place of origin to take garbage from the places of origin,
cleaning of public places, to stop usage of open garbage bins,
streamlining garbage transportation, using garbage as a resource and
streamlining the garbage dumping sites", Mannapperuma said.
"If we can implement these seven steps involving the community,
officials and the local government bodies we can make use of the waste
collected in the western province as a resource of the country", he