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Sanitary landfill in Waga Pelpola, Sri Lanka

In 2008, the project to establish a sanitary landfill in Waga Pelpola has been abandoned thanks to local communities protests, but Sri Lanka still face problems with waste disposal in many other sites.


In 2008, the project to establish a sanitary landfill in Waga Pelpola has been abandoned thanks to the protests carried on by local communities and EJOs [1]. The proposed site was not far from Labugama water facility which provides drinking water to about 2 million people in Colombo city. Moreover the location was in the middle of "Indikada Mukalana" Forest reserve which releases water to three of the main Sri Lankan rivers. According to the proposal made by the Central Environmental Authority, approximately 90 metric tons of unsorted waste collected from Maharagama, Homagama and Sithawaka areas would have been brought to the site but people complained that the landfill would have became the dumping site for Colombo metropolitan garbage too, hurting this sensitive area [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sanitary landfill in Waga Pelpola, Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
State or province:Western Province
Location of conflict:Waga Pelpola
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Land
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

At the national level, more than 40,000 tons of hazardous waste is being produced per annum [10].

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Level of Investment for the conflictive project6,500,000.000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:2007
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Environmental & Natural Resources and Secretary to the Ministry of Environmental & Natural Resources.
Central Environmental Authority (CEA).
Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government
Local Authorities of Maharagama UC, Seethawaka Pura UC, Homagama PS and Seethawaka PS
International and Finance InstitutionsGovernment of Korea from Republic of Korea - financer
Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) from Republic of Korea - financer
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Center for Environmental Justice.
Friends of Earth.
Theth Bim Kalamanakaranaya commettee (regarding Kolonnawa garbage dump)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Fires, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsdeath of wild animals due to the foraging for food in open dumps
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRush, skin disease and health disease caused by inadequate sanitary condition (dengue, cholera, typhus) affect people living in the areas surrounding the dumps
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
New legislation
Project cancelled
On October 2007 the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has taken steps to formulate a National Policy on Solid Waste Management (NPSWM) and drafted new National Solid Waste Management Strategies for implementing the National Policy on Solid Waste Management [5,6]
Proposal and development of alternatives:Require authorities the implementation of a comprehensive National Policy for Municipal Solid Waste Management.
Require industry to design waste reduction and reuse
Center for Environmental Justice is leading a campaign to educate public and students on reuse electronic waste.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The project to establish a sanitary landfill in Waga Pelpola has been abandoned but the landfill has been shifted to Dompe.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

National Environmental Act. sections 10 (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) section 23 (g)

[1] Central Environmental Authority, Ministry of Environment. Annual report 2012. (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[2] Article publishe on Center for Environmental Justice web site (14/01/2009). Proposed Garbage Dumping in Waga. Posted by Hemanta Withanage (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[3] News paper article from 'The sunday times' (6/09/2009). Dompe dump: Detractors Vs defenders (accessed 8/04/2015).
[click to view]

[4] C. A. Ap. No. 565 / 2007. Petition to the Appeal Court against the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) over the formulation of a National Policy for Solid Waste Management. (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[5] Successful Integrated Urban Planning Approach to Solid Waste Management in Sri Lanka. Planning and Implementation of Pilisaru National Solid Waste Management Project. by Malaka Dassanayake. Pilisaru National Solid Waste Management Project. Central Environmental Authority, Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources. Sri Lanka. (Accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[6] web page of Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. National Policy on Solid Waste Management. (last updated 17/2/2012) (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[7] News paper article from 'the Sunday times' (21/10/2012). Garbage strikes back: Disposes people of their homes By Aanya Wipulasena. (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[8] News paper article from 'Daily News' online (1/04/2015). 'Dump' this garbage dump. (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

[9] News paper article from 'the Island' online. Proposed Garbage dumping in Waga by Hemantha Withanage. (accessed 8/04/2014)
[click to view]

[10] (13/1/2007). Say no to Colombo garbage! The saga of unending recyclomania and more stinking city garbage dumps. By Hemantha Withanage. (accessed 8/04/2015)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Centre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)
Last update24/04/2015
Conflict ID:1908
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