Yahapalana move to clear C’bo garbage with military help treated with scorn


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Joint Opposition MP and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said that the government should be ashamed of seeking military assistance to remove garbage in Colombo and its suburbs.

Colombo District MP Gammanpila said that the military shouldn’t be tasked to clear garbage under any circumstances.

The MP was responding to Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s declaration that the armed forces would be deployed to clear garbage within four days in case those responsible were unable to tackle the issue.

The minister blamed Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya and the relevant line ministries for the crisis.

Minister Karunanayake said that the public shouldn’t be allowed to suffer due to failure on the part of relevant authorities. The UNPer revealed the proposed deployment of the military after laying a foundation stone for a new building at Kanapathi Hindu Girls school, Kotahena on Wednesday (June 14). According to the Minister, both President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe had been briefed of the situation and were aware of the measures taken to address the issue.

Colombo District UNP MP Mujibar Rahuman was also present.

MP Gammanpila said the government should mobilize all Provincial Councils and local government authorities to clear garbage in the city and its suburbs.

Asked whether the JO opposed the government move on political grounds, Gammanpila pointed out that garbage issue couldn’t be resolved by deploying the military. The MP said that as the collection, removal and disposal of garbage had to be done daily, therefore Provincial Councils and line ministries should implement proper plans.

The PHU leader emphasized that garbage collection process in the city, its suburbs as well as outstations had suffered severely due to dissolution of local government authorities over two years ago.

Wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday told The Island that in the run up to presidential and parliamentary polls in January and August 2015, respectively, the then Opposition repeatedly accused the government of deploying the military for labourers’ work. The war veteran said that the Rajapaksa government had never utilized the military or the police to do such work. "Of course, we deployed personnel to supervise the CMC and other bodies to ensure proper implementation of projects," Rajapaksa said. Yayapalana spokespersons wrongly described men recruited to Army units tasked to maintain bases and related work as soldiers, Rajapaksa said, emphasizing that the fighting Army would never engage in garbage clearing.

MP Gammanpila alleged that since the change of government in January 2015, every sector had deteriorated. Perhaps, yahapalana government created a new portfolio in the cabinet as well as in Provincial cabinets to take care of garbage, MP Gammanpila said, urging the government to implement a cohesive plan. The MP pointed out that the situation had deteriorated to such an extent garbage had piled up next to the Dutch hospital, a fashionable area across Bank of Ceylon headquarters, frequented by foreigners.

The JO member said that in the absence of proper local government administration, provincial towns were experiencing serious difficulties. The MP said that irate residents yesterday (June 15) blocked the main road at Hatton against the failure on the part of the local authority to clear garbage. Gammanpila said that protests could spread to other towns due to rapidly deteriorating situation.

A couple of hundred people protested for about 90 minutes and dispersed after CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman assured them that their grievances would be taken up with relevant authorities.

Those who had propagated the lie that yahapalana government would be the panacea for Sri Lanka’s ills were silent today. The UNP-SLFP coalition hadn’t been able to maintain systems that were in place at the time the change of administration took place in January 2015. 

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