Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a special statement issued from Japan on April 15 expressed his deep sorrow and grief over the unexpected tragedy which occurred in the Meethotamulla area with the dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The Prime Minister said this tragedy occurred when steps were underway to remove the Meethotamulla garbage mound after proper planning. But the tragedy occurred before this work could be completed.
The Prime Minister said as soon as he learnt of this tragedy, he held discussions with all parties concerned to take immediate remedial measures. By the time he contacted President Maithripala Sirisena, steps had already been taken to coordinate relief measures.
He discussed necessary security arrangements with the Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development. The Speaker also discussed the situation with him.
Although it was a public holiday, the Minister of Home Affairs had rallied his officials and taken steps to face the emergency situation. He also discussed ground level arrangements with the IGP, Army Commander and Parliamentarian S.M. Marikkar. As soon as initial reports of the tragedy were received on April 15 morning.
The Colombo District Coordinating Committee met at the Ministry of Disaster Management and the Minister In-Charge of the subject and discussed the future program of work with his officials. Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister Susil Premajayanth, Deputy Minister Harsha de Silva, Parliamentarians S.M. Marikkar and Mujibur Rahman, and Provincial Council Members and Ministers joined hands and took necessary steps. The President too was keeping constant contact with all these parties.
An agreement had been reached about steps to be taken to provide relief in respect of the loss of lives, injured and those who lost their properties and the committee appointed for this work will soon educate the people about these measures. It should be emphasized that the pledge given to the people regarding the removal of the garbage mound would never be changed. The plans necessary for this had been fast-tracked. The President too agreed that this work should be accelerated.
“We have also accepted certain proposals made by Parliamentarian S.M. Marikkar during the past few months. They too have been incorporated in this final plan. The removal of this garbage mound would never damage the environment in the area or cause environmental pollution. Allegations and talks about such damage were only false rumours,” stated the Premier.
The Government would take action to solve the main problem because it was its duty and responsibility. Innocent people need not pay for this with their lives. I will never condone the attempts made by certain parties to sacrifice the lives of people in Kolonnawa by bandying various slogans. Our main duty is to look after the people and provide relief. A fair compensation payment should be made to people who lost their homes and those evicted to find new houses. Actually, a solution should be found for their satisfactions. If not they would not be able to march forward in their lives. What I want a strategy that would satisfy each and every one, the Prime Minister said.
As a government, we are thankful to all the people who helped in the rescue and relief operations during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays. The Government would issue a more detailed statement once it received all full reports.