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JO calls on President to take action on waste containers

The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday called on President Maithripala Sirisena to take measures to prevent future imports of medical waste that could lead to potential health concerns and conduct an investigation on people responsible for the incident.

Speaking to media at the Opposition Leaders’ office, JO Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardena said the Government should take immediate measures to prevent a repetition of incidents of importing waste that could impact the environment and public health.

“Importing 102 containers containing medical waste has raised concern as this could lead to a potentially dangerous situation for the entire country. Therefore, I believe as the President and as the Minister of Environment Maithripala Sirisena has a responsibility to step up,” Gunawardena said.

He called on the President to conduct a criminal investigation into the matter to find those responsible. Gunawardena said as the Police and Environment Ministry come under the President’s purview he can take decisions more readily than other Government members. “If the Police arrest those responsible for the importing of medical waste that will be a good lesson for others as well. These are incidents that we should not take lightly.”

Referring to claims that a gazette issued during Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure was responsible for the legal loophole Gunawardena argued the gazette issued in 2013 had not allowed importing garbage.

“I was in that Cabinet when that gazette was issued, but I do not agree that has allowed anyone to import garbage. Therefore I think it was a baseless accusation by the Government to cover up their mistakes. This culture has to be stopped. Even after four and a half years they still point the finger at Rajapaksa. This is not good governance they claimed to champion when they came to power.”

Gunawardena claimed if the Government signs more trade deals such as the Sri Lanka - Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) it might open doors to import materials that could lead to environmental and health issues. However, Gunawardena did not provide details on how SLSFTA has paved the way for garbage imports.

(FT)

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