By Ifham Nizam
The responsible authorities are now discussing what action to take against the two companies -Ceylon Metal Processing (pvt) Ltd and Hayley’s Hub – which imported toxic garbage from the United Kingdom.
The Sri Lankan Government would demand Rs. 1.6 billion from the United Kingdom for illegal dumping of waste in Colombo in clear violation of the Basel Convention, a senior government official said.
The Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and the Department of the Customs would also file action against those who were behind the import of British garbage. An informed official said that though supposedly only two local companies were behind it, technically four private firms were involved.
Senior officials of both the Department of Customs and CEA yesterday told The Island that they were having discussions on penalties to be imposed. However, due to the second wave of Covid-19, they had to go slow especially due to the shortage of human resources, they claimed.
It is not clear why they took nearly three years to move against the local collaborators of the toxic scam.
The Island reliably learns that though the parties concerned in the United Kingdom have agreed to pay, neither stakeholders of the Environment Ministry and Customs is aware of it.
Environment Ministry officials told The Island Minister Amaraweera had requested them to monitor the development of the waste containers dumped here and act fast.
Ministry officials said Sri Lanka Customs Department and Central Environmental Authority had agreed to prosecute the companies responsible for the illegal importation of post-consumer waste.
Meanwhile, after a yearlong court process, on Wednesday the Court of Appeal ordered repatriation of 243 waste containers imported from the UK.
Court also ordered authorities to take legal action against the companies involved in the illegal importation.
Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Hemantha Withanage who was the first to take action against, the garbage containers dumped here, told The Island that those waste containers had been imported by Ceylon Metal Processing (pvt) Ltd in 2017 with the support of Hayley’s group and found in Hayley’s Hub operation location in Katunayaka Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and in the China container terminal in Colombo Harbour. The UK exporter Vanguard is owned by the brother of the Sri Lankan importer.
During the legal process the Court requested the Government analyst to produce a report after examining the containers, which was not done due to the lack of capacity. Later the Ministry of Environment and the Central Environmental Authority negotiated with the UK Basel Focal point to take them back.
As a pilot activity two agencies repatriated 21 containers imported by the same companies which are not the subject matter of the case filed by the CEJ. Later the UK Environmental Agency sent an email indicating their interest to take them back.