Meethotamulla remains a danger to the environment; Urban park plans still in progress | Print edition
Pix and story of Rekha Tharangani Fonseka
A proposal to transform the old Meethotamulla rubbish site into an urban park for which Rs 400 million was to be spent, faces several environmental problems.
Following the Meethotamulla landslide that claimed the lives of 32 people in 2018, residents predicted another disaster in the near future.
The project to convert the Meethotamulla landfill into an urban park was to be completed by 2023.
However, even though the Meethotamulla landfill has been abandoned, methane has accumulated and sewage continues to flow into the area.
Among many opinions regarding the best method for developing areas where garbage was once dumped, converting it to city parks was considered the most appropriate solution, as it is a proven method in many countries.
After the tragedy, the Colombo City Council (CMC) stopped dumping garbage in Meethotamulla.
Due to the inability to move the trash or recycle it on site, plans were made to make it an urban park and some plants were hastily planted by Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali. Champika Ranawaka.
Even though work on the urban park has started, construction work is currently halted due to the pandemic.
Urban Development Authority director MM Anura said the project is moving slowly as a number of families are illegally occupying the area.
“The earth where the waste is buried in layers has now been compressed to make it more solid,” he said.
He also said the mound, which once stood 50 meters high, is now reduced to 33 meters.
“All measures will be taken to ensure that no damage is caused to the inhabitants of the region during the construction of the urban park,” said Mr. Anura.
He said the area was being scientifically reclaimed as directed by experts from the National Building Research Organization (NBRO). He also said that a blended development program with the help of foreign private sector investors was also being considered for Meethotamulla.
NBRO officials said if another landslide occurred in the future it would not cause much damage as people were evacuated from the area.
Debris from the disaster is still being removed and nearby canals are being cleaned up. Meanwhile, an underground piping system is to be put in place to remove the leachate, and plans are underway to release the gas coming out of the landfill as well, they added.
He added that the installation of machines for cleaning sludge from old waste has also been halted due to the interruption of the project.