Importation of consignments of waste materials challenged in Courts | Daily News


Importation of consignments of waste materials challenged in Courts

A Writ Petition was filed in the Court of Appeal yesterday seeking an order in the nature of Writ of Mandamus, directing the Director General of Customs to act under and in terms of the customs Ordinance in taking measures to punish the offenders who imported consignments of waste materials from United Kingdom.

This petition had been filed by Centre for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director Hemantha Ranjith Sisira Kumara naming Central Environmental Authority, Director General of Customs and Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioners are further seeking an order in the nature of Writ of Certiorari quashing the validity of all documents or permits granted by any authority to import waste in violation of the provisions of the National Environmental Act.

The Petitioners state that some importers have imported consignments of waste material which includes clinical waste, used Cushions and mattresses, plant parts, plastic waste and other uncategorized and hazardous waste into country from United Kingdom in the guise of importing permitted consignments with the intention of disposing such waste within the country, which may cause severe damage on the environment as well as cause severe threats on the health of the general public of the country.

The Petitioners state that if any such consignments containing chemical waste are permitted to be buried in our soil or sent to open dumps, the underground water table and the surrounding environment will be severely affected thereby polluting and contaminating surrounding water bodies.

The Petitioners state that hazardous chemicals in the waste may also cause adverse health risks including cancer and kidney diseases when such waste is buried, disposed or exposed without adhering to the accepted methods for disposal of such waste.

The Petitioners also state that the local population will be exposed to severe health risks due to the pathogens in the clinical or other waste found in the imported waste. This could also have negative impacts on the Biodiversity in the country.

The Petitioners further state that all such alleged imports of waste have been done without adhering to the terms of the BASEL Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal for which Sri Lanka is a signatory and had ratified the said convention in 1992.

The Petitioners further state that disposal of waste could be done only under a permit issued by the Central Environmental Authority under and in terms of the National Environmental Act No.47 of 1980 as amended.

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