Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prevention of Marine Pollution in Sri Lanka

Sumedha Amarasena

Inshore and coastal waters of Sri Lanka are exposed to various types of pollutants from inland, coastal and offshore sources. These sources release high amount of pollutants in to the sea daily. The pollution will be resulted environmental and socioeconomic problems. The marine pollution due to following reasons.

(1)Industrial wastes is coming from industries such as leather tanneries, paper mills, rubber processing units, coral-based lime kilns, textile factories and batik printing units, arrack distilleries and asbestos-cement plants

(2)Agriculture, Pesticides and fertilizers are used extensively in Sri Lanka. Run-off with agrochemicals drains into rivers, estuaries, lagoons and eventually into the ocean.

(3)Domestic wastes: Except for Colombo, no other city in Sri Lanka possesses treatment facilities for municipal wastes. As a result, all waste is eventually discharged into rivers and seas.

(4)Aquaculture: Most shrimp culture sites are located in the northwestern coastal belt of the island. Aquacultural activities have resulted in the increased concentration of nutrients, the production of toxic metabolites like ammonia and hydrogen sulphides.

(5)Oil pollution: As a consequence of the international shipping route to the south of Sri Lanka, the country’s coastal waters are exposed to oil pollution from the heavy maritime traffic in the area.

(4)Ballastic water is making environmental imbalance due to the pollution.

(6)Degradation of Natural Habitats


(8)Coastal Erosion,

(9)Over fishing and Destructive Fishing Practices,


There is a legal framework provide provisions to prevent the marine pollution under the several authorities. These are Marine Pollution Prevention Act, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act, National Environmental Act, Coast Conservation Act,The National Aquatic Resources, Research and Development Agency Act No. 54 of Councils (PCs) and for the devolution of powers and functions to the Provinces. 1981,The Natural Resources Energy and Science Authority of Sri Lanka Act No. 78 of 1981, The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act No. 2 of 1996, The Urban Development Authority Law No 41 of 1978 and its Amendment in 1982, The National Environmental Act No 47 of 1980 and 56 of 1988,The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (LRDC) Act.

But this legal framework has several short comings such as Narrow, geographic definition of the coastal zone proposed by the Act enforcement and monitoring actions and capacity of the CCD have generally been weak, CCA provides for the delegation of powers and functions to district governments, in practice, the permit system is highly centralized, Coastal management initiatives should be proactive rather than reactive, Lack of participation of local and provincial officials and coastal communities in the formulation and implementation of plans.

Therefore I have proposed some suggestions like Permit issuing process should be decentralized to the local governmental authorities to some extent.

It should be established a new interconnecting body among these institutes, Technology should be updated time to time in this sector,Laws and regulations must be activated in practice.

Review of policies related to waste management in Sri Lanka

Gayesha Jayasinghe

Waste is a growing problem in Sri Lanka aggravated in the absence of proper management systems. Waste includes any matter prescribe to be waste & any matter, whether liquid, solid, gaseous or radioactive, which is discharged, emitted or deposited in the environment in such volume, constituency or manner as to cause an alternation of the environment. Mainly there are two types of wastes. They are solid waste and hazardous waste. Solid waste is described as non liquid waste material arising from domestic, trade, commercial, industrial & agricultural activities as well as waste arising from public sectors. Hazardous wastes have become an important environmental matter in many countries including Sri Lanka.

Mismanagement of waste & its improper lead to health & environmental problems. Air pollution, water pollution can arise because of the waste. Mainly hazardous wastes make serious health problems such as cancers.

Generation of waste is increasing with the increase of the population, technological development & the changes of life style of the people. Therefore policies should be formulated to encourage waste management practices through waste avoidance/reduction, reuse & recycling & thereafter final disposal in an environmental sound manner. When we consider the policies which are relating to the waste management in Sri Lanka, we can consider about the Municipal Council Ordinance, Urban Council Ordinance, Pradeshiya Sabha Act, National Environment Act, Amendment to the National Environmental (Protection & Quality) regulations No.01 of 1990, Basel convention & Rota dam convention.

If someone looks at those acts, he/she can think that waste management is properly happen in Sri Lanka. But actually there are various problems related to the waste management. Eg: Local authorities have lack of knowledge to preparation of suitable project proposals, It cannot be easy to get actions against the haphazard activities related to waste management done by LA,s, No legal mandatory for source separation and producer responsibility, polluter pay principals, etc.

Even if there are problems, many programmes are conducting in Sri Lanka. Some examples for those programmes are Composting programes, sanitary land fill in Mawanella, Bio gas generators in Tamankaduwa & Pathadumbara, Incineration programme carrying by Holcim Company, etc.

It’s necessary to get implementation actions for above mention problems such as educate the local authorities by giving resources, Create a separate Tax for waste management or spot fine system for the illegal dumping, Make a proper disposal mechanism for hazardous waste, etc.

If can solve the problems related to the waste management and can implement the existing programmes, we can make a proper waste management system in Sri Lanka.

Implementation of CDM in Sri Lanka

Thilina Jayarathne

Among the many benefits that forests provide, there is growing appreciation of their role as major storage of carbon. Growing trees, through the process of photosynthesis, absorb carbon dioxide, storing vast amounts of carbon in their wood.

Rising CO2 levels over the past century are held responsible for global warming. Forests contain some 80% of all the carbon stored in land vegetation, and about 40% of the carbon residing in soils worldwide. Deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gases such as CO2 which is about 20% of total emissions. The 1997-1998 fires in Indonesia alone were shown to have contributed up to 40% of the annual emissions from anthropogenic fossil-fuel combustion. Further deforestation will accelerate the problems of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations that are caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was created as part of the Kyoto protocol to achieve the dual objective of lowering global greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest overall cost while supporting sustainable development initiatives within developing countries. It is based on the notion that it is much cheaper to achieve the same measure of carbon reduction in a developing country than in an industrialized country.

The CDM allows Annex I Parties (those required to reduce emissions) to implement projects that reduce emissions in the territory of a non-Annex I Party (those with additional emission rights). The certified reduction units (CERs) generated by such projects can be used by Annex I Parties to help meet their emissions targets while the projects also help non-Annex I Parties to achieve sustainable development. The CDM is expected to generate investment in developing countries, especially from the private sector, and promote the transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies in that direction.

In addition to energy projects, such as saving energy, developing alternative energy sources and active removal and storage of greenhouse gases, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities were recognized as relatively cost-effective way of combating climate change. This is accomplished either by increasing the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (e.g. by planting trees or managing forests), or by reducing emissions.

Sri Lanka became a party of Kyoto protocol in 1994. As 76% of the population in Sri Lanka lives in the rural areas where the main activity is agriculture it has a good potential for CDM projects. Energy, Transport and Forestry are the main aimed areas in Sri Lanka. Lack of Financial Support, Lack of access to new information, Fear of adopting new technologies, Unwillingness to take any risk in purchasing new technologies, People’s protests or reluctance to accept new, energy-saving technologies, lack of information on the effectiveness, running cost, operational phase and after sales service, lack of training, Economic and political constraints, New policies that flavor cleaner technologies and ban polluting, Cultural influences are the main constrains to implement CDM projects in Sri Lanka.

Control of persistent organic pollutants (pops) in Sri Lanka

Sulari Antony

The behavior and fate of chemicals in the environment is determined by their chemical and physical properties and by the nature of the environment. The chemical and physical properties are determined by the structure of the molecule and the nature of the atoms present in the molecule. Depending on the structure of the molecule, these physical and chemical properties span a large range of values. Toxicity, persistence, mobility, bioaccumulation, exposure are considered as these properties .It has been recognized that relatively few substances possess the necessary properties to make them POPs. In fact, if the range of these properties were presented as a distribution, only those compounds at the extreme ends of the distribution would express the degree of persistence, mobility and toxicity to rank them as POPs. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are organic compounds that, to a varying degree, resist photolytic, biological and chemical degradation. POPs are often halogenated and characterized by low water solubility and high lipid solubility, leading to their bioaccumulation in fatty tissues. They are also semi-volatile, enabling them to move long distances in the atmosphere before deposition occurs.

The twelve POPs which are the subject of this matter, are used in or arise from industry, agriculture and disease vector control. Nine are pesticides used on agricultural crops and/or for public health vector control. Twelve chemicals which are persistent organic pollutants, referred to as the “Dirty Dozen” have been identified for immediate global action.

The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel. In implementing the Convention, Governments will take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment.

Reducing the risks from POPs is no simple task but it can be and must be done.
The key is promoting shifts to alternatives, both chemical and non chemical.
Alternatives to POPs can be encouraged through voluntary programs, Public awareness campaigns, economic incentives, restrictions and enhancing the rules and regulations on using alternatives. Appropriate punishments such as imprisonment, fines against the users of POPs should be enforced

Friday, May 18, 2007

Review of Policies Related to Land Degradation in Sri Lanka


Land degradation is the lowering of productive capacity of land temporally or permanently. It can occur by natural phenomena as well as human interventions. Although there are several causes for land degradation, the soil erosion appears to be the major reason for land degradation in Sri Lanka.

According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), there are no any desert areas defined in Sri Lanka. But several parts of the country experience serious droughts and land degradation. Hence, many laws, policies as well as programmes and projects have been formulated and they are under the implementation.

National Environmental policy, Draft National Land Use policy and National Watershed Management policy directly address the issue of land degradation. Under them, many strategies are formulated and they are under the progress. Although policies like National Environmental Action Plan, National Agricultural policy, National Action Plan for Disaster Management etc. directly doesn’t address the issue, they emphasize some strategies those need to avoid improper land management practices.

The projects implemented in order to combat land degradation have been very successful in Sri Lanka. Environmental Action 1 project, Land Titling and Related Services projects, Coastal Zone management project are some of the projects those have brought favourable results to combat land degradation.

Despite the many policies and projects to prevent land degradation are available in Sri Lanka, agriculture lands are being increasingly degraded. Absence of formalized coordination mechanism between national level agencies and the provincial and local level organizations, absence of a National Land Use policy, absence of a single specific body to combat land degradation in the country and delay in the implementation of approved policies are some of the major reasons for the policy and project failures. Hence what can be concluded is that policies alone can not resolve the problems. It is important that all parties concerned are educated and awareness created, so they can effectively contribute to this issue.

Ultimately, it is very important to evaluate all sectoral policies to identify gaps that have a negative impact on integrate land resources. Rapid implementations of the formulated policies are also necessary. Developing an appropriate legal framework to deal with land related issues in a comprehensive manner and developing a mechanism for exchanging data between different agencies and make the information available to all relevant institutions are also very important. If those recommendations are successfully implemented, policies as well as projects can bring out successful results to combat land degradation in Sri Lanka.