Human waste creating health hazard in Srilanka's Beira lake

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Colombo, Sep 23 (UNI) The faecal matter being discharged through storm water drains in Beira lake is leading to a serious health hazard in the city.

Although a World Bank project is currently trying to intercept unauthorised wastewater outlets opening into the lake and reducing sewerage overflows, public indifference and official inaction has resulted in an unbearable stench and a glaring site of thick green algae floating about.

''Inside their homes, Sri Lankans are clean and ensure good hygiene, but there is no concern for the environment outside,'' Daily news reported Chief epidemiologist Nihal Abeysinghe as saying.

Municipalities and Urban Councils were not paying enough attention to good sanitation, drinking water and garbage disposal.

''They, would be more interested in having clean pavements or putting up a market place. Sanitation is considered a personal issue,'' he said.

Attempts to clean up the lake succeeded for a while with the water looking fresh and clean. But the success was short-lived as the discharge from shanties, homes and offices on the banks of the lake which the authorities failed to remove or control led to the return of stink and algae.

Although the country boasts the best sanitation facilities in Asia for the rural poor, after Thailand, the leakage of toilet waste into water bodies from pit lavatories is a growing problem.

So serious has the problem become that it is threatening to negate Sri Lanka's impressively high human development indicators, the newspaper reported.

According to a World Bank report, more than 90 per cent of the Sri Lankan population had access to improved sanitary facilities in 2004 across South Asia, against 34 per cent in Afghanistan at the lower end of the table. Pakistan has a reach of 59 per cent while India has been able to reach out to 33 per cent of its population.

Deputy Director-General, Health Ministry, P G Mahipala said, ''On many of our travels overseas we have found that our sanitation infrastructure is far better than in the rest of the region.'' UNI

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