The Megapolis and Western Development Ministry yesterday assured that the Aruwakkalu Sanitary Land Fill (SLF) site will not have any adverse impact on the environment or the people in the Puttalam district.

“The ministry will take full responsibility for the project and we assure there will be no adverse impact of any kind,” Ministry Secretary Eng. Nihal Rupasinghe and other top officials said at a press briefing in Colombo.

Rupasinghe urged the people not to be fooled by false propaganda for political gain and support the project.

“As professionals who are involved in realising this endevour, we are taking the full responsibility of this project,” Rupasinghe added.

Eng. Rupasinghe also said that a special technical team consisting experts from the Urban Development Authority, Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation and Sri Lanka Army has already been selected for the maintenance activities of the facility.

“The logistic facilities for this technical team have already been provided”, he added.

“This project is not a dumping ground for waste like what happened in Meetotamulla. This is a humongous project involving most advanced technology used in this particular field backed by an extensive scientific study. This is not a project that would be abandoned half way. This is a long term sustainable project that may span from 25 years to 80 years. We are also purchasing a High-Tech Land Fill Compactor especially for this project,” Secretary Rupasinghe pointed out.

According to Secretary Rupasinghe, the total estimation of the project worth 125 million Dollars, including the purchase of four train engines that will be used in transporting compressed garbage from Kelaniya to the Aruwakkalu site. “The project is to be completed within a year and three months,” he also said. The railway road from Puttalam to Aruwakkalu will also be developed as a part of this project, Rupasinghe pointed out.

Rupasinghe also assured that contaminated water generated from liquids present in the waste will not be released to the Puttalam lagoon as alleged by certain groups. He also pointed out that the Deodorization Facility will make sure that the people living in surrounding areas would not have to undergo bad odour emitting from the garbage. Rupasinghe also denied the allegation that salt production would be affected by the SLF.

“We have taken steps to recruit people in the area as workers in the site, as a way to build up community awareness on this project. We have also made sure that no family be removed because of this project,” Secretary Rupasinghe furthered. In answer to some allegations levelled against the project, Project Director Jayavilal Fernando said that the second meeting of a series of discussions will be held this month, where anyone concerned about the project would be given a chance to raise their questions. “We have already had some discussions with activists, religious leaders and people of the area with regards to this project. It is already clear to us that the people who raise concerns over this project have separated into two groups. One group is open for explanations and they understand the real importance of this project, whereas the other group stands with an extreme opinion, without accepting any kind of explanation that we offer. However, we will be conducting awareness programmes and discussions further with all these groups, and especially, we have allowed people to visit the site to inspect it themselves,” Fernando explained.

According to the experts, recycling activities at the Aruwakkalu landfill will begin before the end of this year. With the commencement of the activities, people who suffer from the waste disposal for many years will find a sustainable solution, they added.

Additional Secretary to the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry M. Waidyaratne, Professor in Environmental Eng. Mahesh Jayaweera of the Moratuwa University, Eng. Chandana Gunawardena of the China Harbour Engineering Company and Eng. Wipula Jayasinghe of the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau were also present at the press brief.

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