Last Updated: 2017-04-21
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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka April 21 (NNN-DPA) -- Sri Lanka has declared the clearance of garbage an essential service, after a string of protests by the public over both the disposal of garbage and the collapse of a dump last week that led to the deaths of 32 people, officials said Friday.

The declaration empowers police to arrest those who disrupt the collection or disposal of garbage, Deputy Inspector General of Police Priyantha Jayakody said.

"Any person violating the regulations can be sentenced up to a period of two years, if found guilty by courts," Jayakody said.

Last Friday, the city's main garbage dump site collapsed, killing 32 people and destroying more than 165 houses.

Villagers claim at least another 10 to 15 people are missing, but officials have not confirmed that number.

The government was forced this week to halt garbage disposal at the site and to look for alternatives, moves that were met with strong protests from villagers in different parts of the capital.

In several cases, members of the public prevented the dumping of garbage in their neighbourhoods.

Police backed by commandos were deployed Friday to ensure the collection and disposal of garbage. -- NNN-DPA