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Title: Political Economy of Water Pollution in Pinga Oya, Mahaweli River
Authors: Mahees, M.T.M.
Sivayoganathan, C.
Basnayake, B.F.A.
Keywords: Water Pollution
Pinga Oya
Issue Date: 5-Oct-2011
Abstract: This paper focuses on the relationship between the political economy and water pollution in river Mahaweli, Sri Lanka on the basis of power relationships of people who live in the watershed of Pinga Oya, the tributary of Mahaweli. It is based on the study of effects of socio-economic and political factors in solid waste generation and water pollution in River Mahaweli The unauthorized construction, direct solid waste disposal into water bodies and the untreated dumping sites due to political economic issues are supposed to be some of the major causes of water pollution. The political economy related pollution is a serious crisis in most of the developing countries. The patron-client relationship of power structure in the study area is directly linked up with the water pollution. The main objective of this paper is to understand the causal relationship between political economy of solid waste disposal and water pollution in Pinga Oya quantitatively and qualitatively. 350 Semi-structured questionnaires for households and shop-owners and 20 in-depth interviews with key informants were used to collect quantitative and qualitative data from Pinga Oya watershed areas. The samples were selected purposively and data were analyased on proportionate qualitative basis. Employment and income levels which are considered to be the most significant components of livelihood in this study determine the consumption pattern and class background of people. It is important to mention that unemployed people are more concerned about water pollution caused by improper solid waste disposal than employed people. In this study, 83% of unemployed persons, 61% of businessmen, and 50% of government servants respectively express that people discharge waste water into Pinga Oya. Those who are engaged in business (58%) are less aware of water pollution in Pinga Oya compared to government servants (82%). This study further reveals that those who earn higher monthly income generate more solid waste compared to lower income groups as a result of their changing consumption pattern. For example, 67% of solid waste is generated by higher income groups in this area. It is the economically rich who violate many of the environmental rules and regulations which indirectly pave the way for water pollution in Pinga Oya. Moreover, economically powerful people as well as those who are in the top of employment ladder are well supported by politicians and authorities to violate environmental laws related to waste disposal and water resources of Pinga Oya. For example, around 55% of higher income groups and 75% of lower income groups respectively state that there is political influence and corruptions in solid waste management These livelihood based corruption and unethical behaviors have polluted water resources of Mahaweli. Thus, the livelihood is closely linked up with solid waste and water resource management.
Appears in Collections:Department of Sociology

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