Sri Lanka moots higher fines, compulsory community service for marine polluters
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s marine environment is under serious threat from virtually unchecked pollution owing poor public attitudes and weak law enforcement by authorities, a marine environment expert has warned.
“If Kenya banned plastic bags in one night and Rwanda followed it, why not Sri Lanka?” asked Terney Pradeep Kumara, general manager of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) in the Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy.
“We need to change the existing norms and culture in our society to instill values to protect our marine environment. If we don’t, our future generations will have to face the consequence.”
Kumara warned that the negligence of authorities of their duty to keep harbour premises clean had worsened marine pollution.
The main issue lies in the implementation of policies and legal action, a statement quoted Kumara as saying.
Sri Lanka has limitations even when taking actions against oil spills, Kumara told a forum on marine environment pollution held by the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka, a think-tank.
During the forum it was suggested to have a fine higher than the existing penalty of 5,000 rupees and compulsory community service for offenders to be implemented, on the polluter pays principle.
Kumara noted that Japan treats more than 90% of raw sewage whereas Sri Lanka treats only 2% of it.
As a result, coral reefs, sea grass beds, beaches, lagoons and estuaries around the island are polluted.
The beaches in Trincomalee, Mirissa, Kudawella and Mannar are no longer attractive, with plastic moving on the waves, oil spills and dumped solid waste and chemicals, Kumara said.
“Going for a swim in Mount Lavinia today is like taking a bath in a sewage pit,” he said, referring to a popular beach just south of the capital Colombo.
(COLOMBO, 15 Octber, 2018)