Who Is To Blame?

By Nirmala Kannangara

Following last week’s Haldummulla catastrophe where more than 34 people are believed to have buried alive, accusations have beenraised against the Haldummulla Divisional Secretary and MaskeliyaPlantations for not taking preventive measures despite a landslide warning report being submitted in 2005 by the National Building Research Organization (NBRO).

The earth slip warning has been issued to both the Divisional Secretaryof Haldummulla and the Management of the KoslandaMeeriya-Bedda Estate, the Maskeliya Plantations PLC, by the NBRO in 2005,2009 and 2011.

However it has come to light that all those warnings had been ignoredby the Divisional Secretary or Maskeliya Plantation PLC.

The Divisional Secretary, Haldummulla, ShanthiJayasekera, theManaging Director of Maskeliya Plantations, Sunil Poholiyadda andthe Superintendent of KoslandaMeeriya-Bedda Estate, T. Samarakoonrefused to accept the blame over the incident.

One of the most serious allegations raised against the management ofthe Maskeliya Plantations PLC is that they had demanded employees ofthe KoslandaMeeriya-Bedda Estate to pay a monthly rental for newlybuilt houses to which they were to be shifted in2005 from their homes located on a landslide prone area.

The employees had however refused to move as they could not afford to pay the rent and so they continued to live in old line rooms which were eventually washed away by a massive earth slip last week killing several people, with more missing and others homeless.

Jayasekera insisted she was not responsible for failing to provide alternate lands ass he was not the Divisional Secretary of Haldummulla when the NBRO submitted its initial report in 2005.

Managing Director Maskeliya Plantations Sunil Poholiyadda too slipped awayfrom the questions posed to him about his institution’s failure to look after the workerswho have worked hard to generate money for the company.

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