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Private-Public sector partnership for composting garbage:

WMA to end waste dumping in WP

Disposal of solid waste has become a huge issue in the Western Province. Garbage collected by the municipality has to be disposed of in a systematic manner. Managing solid waste in the Western Province which houses nearly 30 per cent of the country's population and is responsible for generating more than 60 per cent of the country's solid waste is an issue that has to be addressed on a priority basis. With a population that thinks that garbage is not their responsibility but is an issue that has to be handled by the government, managing solid waste has become a critical issue.

Eyesore

Despite, the fact that householders are responsible for generating garbage at their own homes, the sight of heaped up garbage collected and kept by the roadside has become an eyesore. Business places and kiosks are also responsible for heaping garbage on the roadside and evade from handing over garbage to garbage collectors. Householders and business places are the biggest culprits and they feel that since disposal of garbage is the responsibility of the State, they have no say in the matter. They are not aware that they are also partly responsible for the open dumps created by local bodies as these open garbage dumps cause so many health, environmental and social hazards.

The time is ripe for every citizen to become environmentally conscious and find ways of managing solid waste generated in their households, business places or at public places.

The Western Province Waste Management Authority (WMA) which was established in 2004 to find methods of managing solid waste in the western province has come out with a master plan to end the open dumps in many parts of the province.

"When considering solid waste collected by the municipality, we have now introduced a provincial waste management system. All activities have been divided into seven steps from separation of waste, collection and sorting out and five other steps", Nalin Mannapperuma, Deputy Director (Training) of the Western Province Waste Management Authority said.

It has been decided to use waste as a resource. Once garbage is sorted out as plastic, glass, paper, and other waste at the place of generation itself, then there is a way to use waste as a resource.


Navana composting facility under construction

EYESORE : Heaps of garbage collected outside a kiosk

"The two possible methods of using garbage as a resource is either for bio gas and composting", Mannapperuma added.

The WMA has already started 18 composting sites under 18 Local Government Bodies in the province to effectively carry out the plan.

But carrying it out as a State owned project has become somewhat difficult due to financial regulations and other limitations in the public sector.

"The government sector alone cannot handle this situation. Sometimes we have to stick to some financial regulations and we have some limitations when we handle such projects", he added.

Private sector

At the same time, the alone cannot handle these projects as they have to get support from Local Authorities.

"If we can have a private and public sector partnership we can achieve the objective easily.

That is why we are adopting a new mechanism for the 19th composting site we are going to start under the initiative of the Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga", Mannapperuma added.

Therefore, the Navana Composting site which is to be opened on March 3 , will be the first public and private sector partnership for a composting site.

The Western Province Waste Management Authority, Divulapitiya Pradeshiya Sabha will be the public sector partners to the project, whilst Christo Industries which has been selected after following tender procedure has been selected as the private sector partner.

"Our responsibility is to give technical assistance and other infrastructure facilities for the private sector partner and their commitment is to get facilities of the WMA and operate the system according to the guidelines given by the Central Government and the WMA", Mannapperuma added.

Apart from that, whatever earnings they get have to be given to the WMA and the respective Local Government Authority. The facility will totally manage the disposal of waste within that local authority. This is an interim benefit for the local authority. "The Divulapitiya composting plant's design capacity is 15 metric tonnes of garbage per day and on the request of the WMA Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and the Provincial Council Members representing the area. Rs. 12 million has been allocated for this project", he added. However,it was not an easy task for the WMA and the Divulapitiya Pradeshiya sabha to initiate this project in Navana, there was huge public protest against the project because the people of the area thought that this will be an additional open dump like in the case of many others.

It was after a series of programmes conducted to educate the people in Navana that the project got off the ground under the leadership of Chief Minister Prasanna Ranathunga, Provincial Councillors, Chandana Jayakody, Neluka Mallawa and Members of the Divulapitiya Pradeshiya Sabha supported the WMA to educate the people.

Agreement

"The WMA has reached an with the private sector partner to transport garbage which has been sorted out. Currently Divulapitiya Pradeshiya Sabha has also reached an agreement with the people of that area to sort out garbage. We are committed to transport at least 80 per cent of the sorted out garbage into the site", Mannapperuma added.

Meanwhile, the WMA is having a separate program titled 'Pivithuru Pura' and it has gazetted Solid Waste Management rules.

"To implement the rules, we are selecting one or two GN divisions through the local authorities and we are going to start that from that area and collect only sorted out garbage", he added.

Accordingly the sorted out solid waste collected from houses, shops, schools and fairs in the Divulapitiya town area and Kotadeniyawa area will be directly transported to this site. At the second stage of the project sorted out garbage will be collected from Maradagahamula, Doonagaha, Ballapana, Badalgama located within the Divulapitiya Pradeshiya Sabha. The garbage collected from various places will be transported to this site and will be spread on concrete ground for nearly three months after mixing them from time to time

According to Mannapperuma the private company is responsible for the composting of garbage transported to the site and also marketing of the compost ."We have a continuous quality improving program and we send samples to Gannoruwa to check the MPK value of the compost produced there and then give an assurance for the compost produced in this plant", he added.

"This will be a medium scale plant and when we take large scale projects the same methodology will be applied", Mannapperuma added.

Like this project many other medium and large scale composting sites will come up in the Western province in the near future.

"Considering the medium scale and large scale site the limiting factor is the lands in the Western province. Now we have developed a land bank in the western province, out of these a few places can practically be used as dump sites without any protest. Karadiyana and Kaduwela have been identified and we are in the process of establishing mass scale composting facilities in these areas. In the Gampaha district too, two sites have been identified", Mannapperuma added.

"This will be a way of solving the open dump problem in urban areas as well", he added.

The implementation of the project at Navana is due to the effort taken by Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa to turn the Gampaha district into a beautiful city under the "Sundara Gampaha" program.

According to the Director of the WMA R. Samarakkody entering to private and public sector partnerships for this helps lot to manage the solid waste in the province. By providing infrastructure and other technical expertise we are encouraging more private sector people to enter into such projects.

"Although there are many other ways of using garbage, composting is the cheapest way of using it as a resource. Using garbage as an energy source is a costly exercise", Samarakkody added.

He said even developed countries who used garbage as an energy source are reverting to composting garbage because in the case of the former a heavy cost involved is incurred using waste for power generation.

"But we have to be careful not to mix clinical, toxic and industrial waste into the urban and municipal solid waste if we are to use it for composting to allay fears that this compost is free of any mixtures and would not affect cultivations", he added.

"Therefore, we have to go for proper solid waste separation mechanisms at national level if we are to use garbage for composting projects, in order to give an assurance to those who are using compost fertiliser that they are using compost free of clinical and industrial waste", he added.

Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranathunga, Western Province Waste Management Authority Chairman Sarana Dharshana Karunaratne with the help of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Environmental Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa are working tirelessly to make necessary attitude changes among the people to achieve this end.

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