On 29th October 2014 at 7.15 am devastating Earth Slip Catastrophe has been occurred in the Meeriyabedda Estate, Koslanda within the Grama Sevaka Division of Kotabathma, Haldumulla Divisional Secretariat, Badulla District, Uva Province in Sri Lanka. This is not the first or will not be the last Earth Slip. But earth within an area of two square Kilometers has been slipped away and an entire estate has been buried underneath. Meeriyabedda Catastrophe is huge and devastating.
Even after a month of Catastrophe no credible responsible figures of losses of lives and assets are revealed. Evacuating operation also has not been done to the satisfaction. According to the government information 38 persons were died, 7 line rows (quarters) , some single houses, a Temple, a Community Centre, Milk Collecting Centres, some boutiques, a Tele communication Centre and 3 Estate Bungalows were completely destroyed. At the very beginning though it was told that 75 children have lost their parents, later it was told only three.
Families of Estate workers who are included in the identity of Hill Country Tamil Nationality are the affected.
According to information the risk of this Earth Slip has been cautioned by the National Building Research Organization in 2005. It is told that the Maskeliya Plantation Company which manages the Meeriyabedda Estate has been cautioned about it. But no actions have been taken to quit the people from that area and to settle them in a safer area.
The president has asked the Inspector General of Police to investigate into find out who is responsible for the said default but no news of the followings;
National Building Research Organization has earmarked the areas of Earth Slip risk in the District of Kegalle, Ratnapura, Matale, Kandy, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Kalutara and Matara. People are moving from the areas where the signs of risk of Earth Slips are observed.
In these circumstances people are determined to take decisions in view of the above we the Plantation Society Action Group, Collective of Trade Unions Political Parties Mass Movement and Individuals spelling the declaration of the hill country people whom also consisting the estate workers.
We do hereby make the following declaration on the occasion of one month’s commemoration of the Meeriyabedda Catastrophe on 30th November 2014 at Colombo Ramakrishna Mission Hall.
- We declare our basic fundamental right to safe settlements in order to live free from natural Catastrophe such as Earth Slip and make declaration, to quit the line rooms, the labour camps (prison) where we have been living hitherto without separate houses and our desire the right to live in separate habitable own houses.
- We make declaration to take joint actions with consensus, to obtain 20 perches land for each family in order to build separate houses in areas free from Natural disasters. And do hereby declare that the date 29th of October to be observed as day of Right to land and housing of Hill-Country people.
- We make declaration that the said new settlements should be recognized by the government as village or town settlements and be brought under the administration of Central Government, Provincial Councils, Local Authorities, Divisional Secretariats and Grama Sevaka Divisions and be established together with Infrastructures and other basic facilities.
- We declare that the people should be quitted from the Earth Slip risk areas and to obtain employment in other estates or alternative employment for the said people.
- We make declaration that to make the employers/estate companies full responsibility in account of ensuring the rights of Labour and security of the workers as well as the government should be responsible for affairs pertaining to right to life of the plantation community.
FURTHER WE EMPHASISE COLLECTIVE ACTIONS
a). To obtain compensation for the affected families of Meeriyabedda against their losses of lives and assets.
b). To obtain relief and payments for the displaced families as the result of Meeriyabedda Catastrophe as well as from other places to avoid Earth Slip risk until they are permanently settled in safer areas.
c). To get ensured the life, development and safety of the children who have lost their parents in Meeriyabedda Catastrophe.
d). To get reported the correct credible information of the losses of lives and assets as the result of Meeriyabedda Catastrophe.
e). To get credibly investigated into the failure of taking steps to quit the people from Meeriyabedda and settling them in safer areas, to find out institutions and officers responsible for the failure and to take legal action against them.
PLANTATION SOCIETY ACTION GROUP
152-1/4, Hulftsdorp Street, Colombo-12