A Third World disaster in pollution


I have just returned to my home in Tasmania, after visiting your once beautiful island for the sixth time. My wife and stepson are Sri Lankan, and I did hope to move there when I retire in the next two years.

Having said that, I am disgusted with the amount of waste and polluted ocean surrounding the once beautiful Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

On my first trip in 2013, I was shocked by the amount of rubbish, not only in the streets, but also on the beaches and in the water. I made enquiries then as to why there were no rubbish bins on the beaches and why there were not correct household bins, rather than bundled bags of dirt left in piles on the streets. I was pleased to find on my 3rd trip that there were bins on the beach (Mt. Lavinia), but the locals were not using them. This year I was hopeful after seeing signs had been erected advising locals to only leave their footprints and to use the provided bins.

I was dismayed to see the condition of the beach when I arrived on Aug 2nd. There was more rubbish than ever, not only on the beach but also in the water. Plastic bags, bottles, coconut husks, kite strings, food, at least 7 dogs in a group defecating, and all manner of things left by locals. It was more evident after the last Poya holiday. On that day, the beach was crowded with locals and a smattering of tourists. At sundown, it was hardly possible to see the sand because of the litter. As many people turned up again on the Sunday.

As there are no public toilets anywhere along the stretch of beach and thousands of locals there on both days, there was only one place for them to toilet, and that was in the ocean. The week following, there was sewerage slime mixed with rubbish in the water and certainly unsafe for swimming.

Several restaurants and local bars along the beachfront had several employees raking up rubbish in front of their establishments, to give patrons the idea they were concerned about the conditions along their boundaries. I was astounded to see them dig big holes in the sand, after raking the rubbish in piles, and burying it under a few centimeters of sand!

The situation disturbed me not just personally, but because Sri Lanka depends on Tourism for its survival. No Tourists and there will be more economic hardship than there is already. I personally went to the Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council and spoke to the official responsible, and he told me of the hardship, in policing and education of the locals.

I ask that you please have the decency to reply and begin addressing the problems existing. I have many photos taken on this trip of the problem and will start posting them on social media, on all popular sites relating to your tourism industry.

I live on an island that is 900 square kilometres larger than Sri Lanka; we too are surrounded with pristine beaches. Unfortunately, our climate is cooler between May and November, but I can guarantee they are always clean.

To the Police Superintendent: I always rent the same apartment on College Avenue, where I believe a high ranking Police Officer resides, and was told that is the reason for a highly visible Police presence. On every occasion that I left my apartment to either go out or to the beach, there was between 1-3 Policemen lounging in chairs in the apartment’s covered car park, some staying their entire shifts, sleeping and playing on their smart phones. When out and about, I see many motorcycles with two policemen riding, countless traffic infringements happening around them, yet not interested in their job. I have photos of officers sleeping and playing on smart phones if you would like to see them.

Proper policing and issuing of infringements for traffic offences and littering too, will educate the masses of locals and not only contribute to the economy, but to the Government coffers to provide better health services etc.

Another issue that bothers me is the use of horns, especially on the hundreds of polluting un-roadworthy busses and Tuk Tuk's that travel the entire country. It is unacceptable and unnecessary Carbon Dioxide and Noise Pollution.

On this trip, I rented a car and took my family South to Weligama. It didn't matter where we went; every piece of coastline was littered. On more than a dozen occasions, I was confronted with passenger busses coming toward me on the wrong side of the road, with total disregard to human life.

In closing, Sri Lanka will remain a third world country unless the air, traffic, noise and rubbish pollution issues are addressed, and I look forward to receiving a response from all addressees.


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