President orders acquisition of land for garbage

The President had ordered the acquisition of land that could be used to dump garbage with immediate effect under emergency regulations, Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament yesterday (25).

This would help the government to dispose garbage which had caused mosquito related diseases, he said, in response to opposition criticism at an adjournment debate on the dengue epidemic.

Moving the motion for the debate, UNP Gampaha District MP Joseph Michael Perera said that the government had failed to control dengue. He said that of over 11,000 dengue patients, about 145 had succumbed to the disease. He said that though the government claimed that all measures had been taken to meet the threat, nothing substantial had been done so far.

Blaming both Health and Environmental Ministries for the deteriorating situation, he said though legal action had been taken against people for not complying with government directives and regulations, the government and local authorities had done absolutely nothing to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds.

Minister of Construction and Engineering Services Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said there were four types of dengue. Of them, two had been prevalent in Sri Lanka and many people had developed immunity to them.

But an outbreak of a different type of dengue had caused chaos, he said, adding that Sri Lanka wasn’t the only country affected by this.

Kandy District JVP MP Navaratne Banda said that the epidemic had spread over 15 districts. Of them, Kandy had the highest number of deaths. Of them, 25 percent were women. He attacked Health Minister for urging women not to wear mini skirts to escape dengue. He asked the government to follow the Cuban example in eradicating the disease by using bio-control methods. Cuba had developed a bacterium called Bacillus Thuringiensis (BTi) to be sprayed on water clogged areas . 

Minister of Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, Jayaratne Herath said that the UNP had now nothing else to talk about except dengue. He assured that Sri Lanka would follow the Cuban example.

Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the government had launched a massive programme to meet the threat. The ministry couldn’t tackle this on its own without the support of the public, he said.

He pointed out that though people talked about people succumbing to dengue, they had ignored the fact that over 12,000 had survived. "All shortcomings are heaped on me just like all garbage is directed to Bay of Bengal. Those who had obtained Court orders preventing garbage dumping on lands too, must be held responsible for this situation. The President has taken a decision at my request to acquire land that could be used for the purpose of dumping garbage so that town councils and urban councils would be able to find places to dump garbage preventing further spread of the disease.

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