BY Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
How can a government, which, despite repeated pleas from the Koslanda landslide victims to be relocated, made years before the tragedy, now suddenly find alternative land to relocate them after the disaster? NSSP Leader Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne questioned.
“These alternative lands offered are lands owned by the government, which they have not given to plantation companies. The people in these areas have been pleading for alternative lands since 2005. They were constantly left stranded. How come these lands are turning up now? This is unacceptable,” he told Ceylon Today.
He added that Land and Land Development Ministry has been withholding substantial areas of land, suitable for building houses in Meeriyabedda and Koslanda itself, on areas which are believed to be not prone to landslides.
“But now, after having neglected the people, by ignoring their repeated pleas for alternative lands, how come the government is suddenly in possession of alternative lands to relocate them?” he asked.
Karunaratne said that in the aftermath of the tragedy, the Disaster Management Ministry has said the government will be giving alternative lands adjacent to the disaster hit areas to the victims, to have them resettled.
Landslide warnings covering the disaster areas, namely Meeriyabedda and Koslanda, were issued in 2005 and 2011.
“Insurance cover was given to the plantation estate workers in 2005. The government should see that the victims get their insurance dues and relocate them to safer areas, as even those areas demarcated for resettlement, carry the risk of landslides,” he said.