Sri Lanka begins prosecutions of encroachers
ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lankan government will next week begin prosecuting owners of unlawful constructions as part of a major crackdown following the collapse of an unauthorised seven-storeyed building in Wellawatte.
Megapolis and Western Development Minister Champika Ranawaka said legal action will be initiated from Monday against 18 individuals responsible for encroaching the Wellawatte canal reservation.
“We are taking action against owners of 18 buildings along the Wellawatte canal,” the minister told reporters in Colombo. “They have encroached on the reservation. Some of these buildings are multi-storeyed buildings.”
He said the action will be initiated from Wellawatte following the May 18 collapse of the seven-storeyed Excellency wedding reception centre where four people were killed and over 20 wounded.
The ministry has identified 2,000 unauthorised structures between Bambalapitiya and Wellawatte while it is estimated that there are some 10,000 such buildings in the city of Colombo.
The minister warned that illegal structures as well as haphazard development caused flooding as well as landslides and he expected the problem to get worse unless corrective action ois taken immediately.
There are high-rise apartment buildings which block the natural drainage of rain water.
“Politicians are to blame for allowing this kind of construction and it is high time that we give up that type of cheap politics,” the minister said. “We need to create awareness and have a national movement that will stand up against illegal constructions.”
“If we don’t remove the illegal buildings that are blocking the canals and waterways, there will be major flooding of Colombo in the very near future,” Ranawaka said.
He also slammed city planners for allowing the construction of the southern expressway which effectively acted as a 150 kilometres dam across several rivers in the south-west and the south of the island.
Part of the Southern Expressway went under water last week. Several exits, including the one at Matara, went under several feet of water making the Expressway quite useless.
Officials said parts of the E1 expressway should have been built as an elevated highway to allow rain water from the eastern side to drain to the west, but cost considerations prevailed and the end result was a bund without adequate culverts and bridges to take a heavy volume of rain water.
(COLOMBO, June 2, 2017)