Kandy struggles with multiple shortages

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Kandy, which is famous as the second capital city of Sri Lanka, is also going through a tough time as with the entire country affected by the current crisis situation.

Petrol shortage disrupts essential services

The situation is extremely dire at the Kandy Municipal Council (KMC) owing to the shortages of petrol and gas. Namal Dissanayake, a mechanical engineer at the KMC said that officials are facing difficulties going for inspection, and also with planning and logistics.

Dissanayake claimed that they are unable to go for manuscript reading and disconnecting lines. “They have been unable to fix meters to newly constructed buildings as planning officers are facing difficulties with transport”.

He says that tuk tuks are idling as there is no petrol and drivers not willing to wait in queues for days. Even though they are an essential service, Dissnakayake says it has been challenging for the Municipal Council to get fuel.

He also said that water supply and fire fighting is barely managed, plus there are difficulties keeping the generators ready for an emergency due to the lack of fuel.

Safety of the Perahera spectators

August is the city’s special month as it is the month of the Esala Perahera, also known as the Festival of The Sacred Tooth and KMC officials are getting ready for the annual procession as usual.

But as there is a shortage of petrol, they have been unable to continue preparations for the Perahera. Dissanayake said that as there is no petrol for machinery, they have been unable to cut down rotten branches that are dangerously bent over streets and overgrown grass remains untrimmed.

Therefore, he said that he has requested the Governor to provide them another extra quota of fuel to continue preparations for the Perahera and ensure the safety of pilgrims.

Reduction in the number of garbage runs

Dissanayake said they have been unable to keep up with routine garbage collection but since the KMC has a private diesel shed, a considerable amount of garbage has been collected.

He also said that the KMC has reduced the number of garbage runs to conserve fuel and will continue using a minimum amount of fuel. 

Meanwhile, he stated that they can clearly see people have reduced buying goods.

“Especially the amount of leftovers has been reduced and consequently we have been collecting less garbage in the city”. According to his point of view it is because of the rapid inflation in the country and the reduced number of tourists.

The crisis affects even after death

Dr. Pasan Parakum Jayasinghe, the Head of KMC Health Department said the gas shortage has affected cremation activities since April this year. 

Accordingly, he said that one cylinder can burn a maximum of three bodies. He said that earlier there was a capacity of cremating eight bodies per day but with the lack of gas they have limited the number to a maximum two bodies.

Thus, since April to June, nearly 250 bodies had been cremated when more than 100 bodies were buried.

Dr. Jayasinghe explained that cremation is the most convenient and safest method for the environment and the people, but with the gas shortage they have been unable to provide cremation facilities, therefore, when one or two bodies go for cremation, six or seven bodies are buried in graves.

He alleged that if the situation continues they will run out of the space for burials and will have to bury one on the top of another which is not safe. He said it takes two years for a body to decompose and cannot bury another body at the same place before that.

He claimed that cremation takes only few minutes but burying a body takes more time and human resources.

Dr. Jayasinghe said people have fallen out of the frying pan into fire with this situation as the cost of cremation has increased up to Rs 15,000 and that prices have also increased for transportation and other activities.

“We receive gas under the essential services for cremation; people suffer in queues to obtain gas to quench their hunger. What is essential?  Hard to answer isn’t it? That is why we call it a crisis,” he explained.

By Kanchana Kolagolla