During the World Environmental Day recently held I was driving around the city of Colombo and suburbs and was walking along the local roads, where I live it was an eye-sore to observe empty polythene packs of tea, sugar, fruit drinks and milk, printed with very popular brand names, on the roads, in drains and unauthorized garbage dumps.
Sri Lankans have been challenging our local researchers and industrialists to manufacture a bio-degradable bag for packing and carrying common consumables. Their attempts of research and manufacture seem to have miserably failed due to overt and covert reasons. The main purpose of this challenge was to phase out the use of polythene, which has become a menace causing innumerable problems such as spread of dengue, clogging of waste water and drainage lines and even causing a threat to our wild life, mainly the wild elephants and the domestic cattle who swallow polythene packs along with the food waste dumped in the periphery of wild life national parks of Wasgamuwa, Manammpitiya and Udawalawe which are highlighted very often by the media.
I really do not know whether bio-degradable small containers/bags made of waste papers, straw or reeds are too expensive. If so the consumers can pay a small sum for them as in some places we already do for polythene bags. I am sure it will not raise the present cost of living which is already high and increasing unchecked, any way. In the long run this move will save most vulnerable environment, save the lives of citizens of the country from dengue menace and further save colossal sums of money in the government coffers, now being spent on eradication of dengue and treatment to thousands suffering from the diseases.
A few years ago the government enacted laws to make polythene bags thicker. This probably made the polythene bag manufactures and dealers richer, and it has certainly not made, the use of polythene bags lesser. Substitutes to polythene bags, made of natural straw elephant dung and reeds are confined to the neglected cottage industries and their brochures.
A. M. U. Seneviratne, Rtd.
Dengue – Who is
I am a resident of a road leading off Galle Road close to the CTB Depot in Ratmalana. The municipal area concerned (Municipal Council of Dehiwela-Mt. Lavinia) has been declared a “dengue disaster zone” and they in turn are blaming the citizenry. On the other hand not too long ago a political big wig took the law into his hands in meeting out punishment “Kekille style” in what can only be described as the act of a political lackey trying to impress his masters.
My attempt here is not to discuss politicians but try to bring to the attention of the powers that be the urgent need for action.
Let me illustrate a few points here, based on what I observe day in and day out.
1. Storm water drains not cleaned of the accumulated sludge thus impeding the flow of water and becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. But several rate payers were prosecuted when a few water sources were found in several home gardens.
2. Permanent, semi-permanent and temporary shops – virtual shacks – built over the drains at the top end of the road, obstruct the cleaning of such drains and prevent the smooth flow of storm water. But rate payers will be prosecuted if they construct any unauthorised building in their private gardens that obstructs the flow of water.
3. Approving or allowing such shops to be built with no thought of the need for sanitary facilities of the shopkeepers who have to be in those from morning till evening. But will any rate payer be allowed to build a house with no toilet facilities?
4. There are even house owners who have created drains that discharge their kitchen and bath waste water on to the road surface. This is because there is no storm water drain on one side of the road but this should not be an excuse for allowing some residents to break municipal laws on health and sanitation.
How the PHIs dare to come and tell householders to take action to remove mosquito breeding places baffles me when they ignore the more obvious breeding grounds such as above.
W. A. J. Francis