CEA Starts Inspection On Over 600 Polythene Industries
► Over 450 CEA officials in the field
► Restaurant owners request President to investigate mafia on ban
► CEA says it will impose the law strictly
The Central Environmental Authority (CEA), which is enforcing the law on harmful polythene products from 1 January, has commenced inspecting nearly 600 polythene manufacturing industries island-wide from yesterday.
CEA Waste Management Division (WMD) Director Ajith Weerasundara told that a contingent of over 450 officers, including those who are attached to the CEA, WMD, provincial and district offices, have been deployed in the inspection operations covering all districts.
During the inspections held in December last year, the CEA had visited over 20 polythene manufacturing industries, mainly those making lunch sheets and shopping bags, and had found some were still manufacturing those products in defiance of the new guidelines.
“We have given the final warning to heed our guidelines before 1 January and we will revisit those industries soon,” he said.
The guidelines were announced in the gazette for manufacturing shopping bags, rigifoam boxes and lunch sheets following a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the Minister of Environment.
Under these new guidelines, the Government had announced a ban on all polythene products less than 20 microns from 1 September last year.
Weerasundara said that there were nearly 600 polythene manufacturers who had an environmental protection licence issued by the CEA but over 500 people were engaged in domestic trade.
“We have doubts whether these people are following our guidelines to produce non-degradable polythene products and will raid these places on tip-offs from the public and our intelligence sources,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Association of Sri Lanka Restaurant Owners (ASLRO) in a letter to President Sirisena requested a probe into the banning of lunch sheets, stating that there was a mafia connected to the ban who sought to sell biodegradable lunch sheets.
According to ASLRO, 15 million lunch sheets are consumed daily and over 10 million grocery bags. In its letter to the President, the ASLRO has threatened to shut down restaurants in an islandwide protest if the CEA imposes a fine of Rs. 10,000 for using non-biodegradable lunch sheets at their restaurants.
“We ask the officials why the ban is only for lunch sheets. The so-called non-environmental friendly shopping bags and grocery bags are still in use,” ASLRO National Organiser Asela Sampath said in its letter.
When CEA Chairman Prof. Lal Dharmasiri was contacted he said that the ASLRO lacks knowledge on the ban, which bans all polythene products – lunch sheets, grocery bags, shopping bags and rigifoam boxes.
“We are working closely with reputed restaurant owners who welcome the ban. We challenge the so-called association to expose themselves, to show how many restaurants they have and who the owners are,” he claimed.
The CEA chief said they would impose the law strictly as the directives came from the President to protect the health and the environment of the country. (By Shanika Sriyananda)