Following the tragic collapse of a garbage heap in Meethotamulla in April 2017, the idea of constructing a landfill was proposed in order to better handle the mounds of garbage being produced. This subsequently led to the Aruwakkalu sanitary landfill project.
It is known that the undertaking of this project has seen a fair amount of protests and criticisms. Hence in order to find out some crucial details about this venture, a Right to Information application was sent to the Urban Development Authority in October 2019. Following this, a reply was received from the Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities, dated 26/12/2019.
The RTI application filed requested information such as the percentage of completion at the time of the Aruwakkalu sanitary landfill in Puttalam and also the expected date of (100%) completion of this structure. The ministry replied that the project completion percentage was 63% up to 26th December 2019. It was also stated that the expected date of total completion is 31st December 2020.
Landfills pose environmental threats concerning dust and contamination of groundwater. Therefore, the requestor wanted to know about pollution control methods that had been planned or were already being put in place. The measures taken to control the spreading of dust from the landfill were inquired about.
The environmental impact assessment report done for this project recognizes that “provision for dust suppression in the design and operating plan is essential”. It was also stated that this provision involves the gravel surfacing of the access road and service roads within the site, and also, the use of water for the purpose of suppressing the dust that does arise.
As for measures that have been/will be taken to minimize groundwater pollution due to the landfill, the Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities said in its reply that, in the construction of the sanitary landfill several filter layers are being used to prevent contamination of ground water from the leachate. The leachate is collected in two leachate regulation tanks built with concrete.
The ministry also supplied the information that “in the construction process world-wide acceptable technical procedures have been followed”.