Cracking down on litter and hygiene offenders

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Colombo and suburbs will be cleaner and healthier with the introduction of new regulations on solid waste management. Western Province Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas have been asked to draw up waste collection schedules and notify the public on collection days and times, including public holidays.

“The new standard by-laws on solid waste management have been issued by the Western Provincial Council,” Western Provincial Council secretary, Jayanthi Wijetunge, told the Sunday Times. “Local government institutions should adopt the by-laws, in accordance with the Local Authorities Standard By-laws Act of No. 6 of 1952.”

Residents in Nawagaththegama Pradeshiya Sabha areas in Puttalam district have to carry their own garbage and dump it into a garbage truck parked on the main road.
Picture shows an expectant mother dumping the garbage onto the truck as the Pradeshiya Sabha employee looks on.
Pic by Hiran Priyankara Jayasingha

Under the by-laws, members of the public may lodge complaints of negligence or failure to act on the part of the authorities, or cases of nuisance, to the Mayor or Commissioner of the Municipal Council, the Chairman of Urban Council, or the Secretary to the Pradeshiya Sabha. Action will be taken within two weeks of the complaint being made.

Waste will be categorised, and bio-degradable, re-usable and recyclable waste will be managed in environmentally friendly ways. Waste bins will be installed on both sides of roads and highways and in all public areas. Mobile waste bins will be set up during festivals and special events.

Labour hired to sweep roads and collect, separate, transport and dispose of waste will be provided with appropriate clothes, hand gloves, mouth covers, and boots. Waste bins will be installed in residential areas, and garbage removed regularly before it becomes a public nuisance.

In the meantime, the public is requested to separate garbage into designated bins. The garbage will be removed by authorised collectors. Littering in public places, including throwing litter out of vehicles, will be a punishable offence.

Burning waste in open areas within Municipal Council limits is also prohibited. Fruit, vegetable, meat, fish and poultry vendors will be expected to put their waste in separate bins and store these out of the reach of flies, insects, rats and other vermin.

Western Provincial Council legal officer Palitha Abeywardena said the laws may be amended so that fines can be increased. At present, fines for offences against hygiene and cleanliness range Rs. 750 to Rs. 1,500.

The Western Provincial Council has also introduced a new set of by-laws relating to the eradication of mosquitoes and disease-inflicting insects within the Municipal Council, Urban Council and Pradeshiya Sabha limits.

Under the law, any officer authorised by the Municipal Council Commissioner, the Urban Council Chairman or the Pradeshiya Sabha Secretary may at any time of day between 6.00 am and 6 pm enter any premises within their areas to conduct inspections relating to mosquito breeding.

Open tin cans, plastic cans, bottles, boxes, tyres, and coconut shells are potential breeding spots, and should be cleared, as well as choked gutters, pipes and drains. Water tanks should be maintained, closed and covered. Artificial ponds or pools should be emptied and cleaned at least once a week.

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