Bla­tant vi­o­la­tion of con­di­tions gov­ern­ing garbage dis­posal for filthy lu­cre

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS - By An­thony David

ACom­mis­sion prob­ing the col­lapse of the garbage dump in Meetho­ta­mulla on Sin­hala-Tamil New year’s day, has re­ceived star­tling de­tails on how mon­ey­mak­ing deals were made over garbage.

The Com­mis­sion headed by for­mer Judge Chan­dradasa Nanayakkara, re­ceived in­for­ma­tion on how a pri­vate com­pany was con­tracted to spray the garbage dump with a chem­i­cal, a few weeks be­fore it col­lapsed, on how ex­or­bi­tant sums were paid to hire ve­hi­cles from a com­pany in Bat­tara­mulla, to level the garbage dump, and how ten­der con­di­tions for pri­vate clean­ing com­pa­nies were vi­o­lated.

The de­tails are to be stud­ied by the Com­mis­sion in com­pil­ing its re­port about the in­ci­dent in which at least 37 per­sons were killed, sev­eral in­jured and dozens of houses dam­aged.

Among the de­tails the Com­mis­sion has re­ceived is that, two com­pa­nies con­tracted to col­lect and dis­pose garbage, were per­mit­ted to dis­pose garbage in Meetho­ta­mulla, in vi­o­la­tion of the ten­der re­quire­ment where the com­pa­nies have to de­clare the lands where garbage would be dumped. Colombo Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil (CMC) Com­mis­sioner V.K. Anura is al­leged to have given per­mis­sion for the com­pa­nies to dump garbage.

Though, there is also a ten­der con­di­tion that if the sur­charge for fail­ure to ful­fill ten­der con­di­tions, ex­ceeds Rs 1.5 mil­lion, the ten­der would be can­celled. Sup­port­ing doc­u­ments too have been at­tached and sent to the Com­mis­sion.

An­other al­le­ga­tion was that, prior to the Supreme Court per­mit­ting the dump­ing of garbage at the Meetho­ta­mulla site, the CMC Com­mis­sioner had granted per­mis­sion to dump garbage there.

The de­ci­sion to hire heavy equip­ment from a com­pany in Bat­tara­mulla, for an an­nual fee of Rs 187190 mil­lion, to level the garbage mound, has been ques­tioned, as the an­nual ex­pen­di­ture had been around Rs 34 mil­lion, be­fore the Com­mis­sioner took over.

A sys­tem to con­duct an in­ter­nal au­dit on the ex­pen­di­ture too had been halted on a di­rec­tive of the Com­mis­sioner, en­abling pay­ments for the heavy ma­chin­ery.

Among the other ev­i­dence brought be­fore the Com­mis­sion is that, the garbage dump was sprayed with chem­i­cal by a com­pany from Pagoda Road, Nuge­goda, prior to the col­lapse, with­out proper ap­proval, thereby vi­o­lat­ing govt reg­u­la­tions.

A pro­posal by the com­pany had been sub­mit­ted twice to the CMC Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, claim­ing that four spe­cial­ists had in­spected the chem­i­cal. In­quiries by the CMC Trea­surer from the ex­perts, re­vealed they were un­aware of the chem­i­cal. The Com­mis­sion has been in­formed there was no writ­ten con­sent for the use of the chem­i­cal.

How­ever, sub­se­quently, the CMC Com­mis­sioner had al­legedly claimed he was au­tho­rised to ap­prove pur­chase of the chem­i­cal and gone ahead with the pur­chases, the Com­mis­sion has been in­formed.

The Meetho­ta­mulla res­i­dents be­lieve that the use of the chem­i­cal on the garbage dump had led to its col­lapse, but the CMC has re­peat­edly de­nied a chem­i­cal was used.

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