Mahadowa Estate residents on edge
By Eunice Ruth, Kapila Gunawardena and Rathna Weerasinghe
Residents of Mahadowa Estate, Lunugala, said they are living in fear due to the dilapidated condition of their houses and due to the landslide threat in their village. More than 15 families live in these row houses and all of them had decayed in the last few years. However, the responsible authorities have not paid enough attention regarding the lives of the people, residents said.
“The Lunugala Divisional Secretariat and the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) have inspected the place and informed us to evacuate, as living here is dangerous. Also, they said this land is prone to landslides and puts our lives at risk,” the residents said.
Meanwhile, they said several families from these row houses have been relocated to their relatives' houses and several other residents have repaired the cracks to reduce the risk of collapsing.
While speaking in this connection to some of the residents they said, even though the authorities have instructed them regarding the threat and asked them to leave the houses to protect themselves, they are helpless and have nowhere to go.
Kumar Vipulanandan, a resident of the village, said seven or eight years ago, their houses in this row began to crack. Following that, the Lunugala Divisional Secretariat and the NBRO had inspected the place and said these houses could face a landslide within the next ten years. It has been about 8 years and the condition of the surrounding area has also got worse. However, from then the authorities have not taken any decision regarding the relocation of their houses. Also, the risk is higher in the rainy season.
“Already, we are leading a life with many difficulties and it has even worsened the situation. The authorities are not responsible enough to solve our issues and they don’t care about our lives,” he said.
“Even though the Divisional Secretary has asked us to leave immediately, we have nowhere to go,” he added. Also, they said, they don’t want to shift from there to any other forest areas and he requested the authorities to help them to allocate a land in the estate and a small compensation to construct their own houses.
Another resident of the village, S. Jeevaratnam, said the situation there in the rainy season is very dangerous and due to this condition, they live in fear.
“The authorities are informing us to shift to nearby schools to protect ourselves from the threat of landslides, along with our families,” he said.
“If we live in schools, then how will our children learn?,” he queried.
He also added that, officials from the Divisional Secretariat had informed them regarding an allocation of land. However, that land is a forest land and they can’t live there with their children.
“In addition, we don’t have proper work and, in this condition, we can’t afford to construct our own house and we request the authorities to help us by allocating a proper land or providing us a house in a proper place,” he said.
B. Kochiswaran, a resident, said the walls of their house were cracked and are on the verge of collapse.
“We go to nearby schools in the rainy season and we head back to our houses when the rain stops. We don’t want any other places, as we have enough of space in this estate itself. We request the authorities to build new houses for the people who live in the row houses.”
Lunugala Divisional Secretary, D.M.N. Dissanayake, said a land had been allocated for the resettlement of these families in Lower Mahadowa, Garudiella and the relevant acquisition in this connection, and the NBRO report are being obtained. Adequate facilities will be provided as soon as the work is completed and steps will be taken to resettle the families at risk.