Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said in Parliament yesterday that there was no need for foreign assistance or aid to provide relief to victims of the Koslanda landslide as the government was capable of looking after the affected people.
Making a special statement, the minister said that there were around 1,000 persons in temporary welfare centres and foreign nations, organisations as well as local institutions had offered their assistance to provide relief for the affected people.
“There are lots of groups who may try to make use of this calamity. They may organise campaigns to collect funds and material saying that they would be for the use of affected people, but none of us know where the funds and materials so collected will end up. We request the people not to fall prey to such fraudsters,” the Minister said.
He said that the government had sufficient funds to provide necessary assistance and relief to the people who had become victims of the landslide disaster. “There is no need for international assistance. If anyone wants to provide scholarships or assistance to children affected, then such assistance should be channeled through the government agencies and transparency should be maintained.”
Minister Amaraweera said that there were lots of people and organisations which have offered food and other aid for the Koslanda people. “That is not necessary. The government has put in place a mechanism to look after them. Our officials provide cooked food to the victims and look after their needs. There are some people who come in their hundreds to witness the disaster. For them it’s just another trip. They come there to see the disaster hit people, ask various questions, and take out their mobile phones to capture the images of the victims. Those visitors not only hinder the relief and rescue processes but also further worsen the plight of the innocents by asking them unnecessary questions,” the minister said.
“Thus, we have decided not to permit anyone other than people’s representatives and journalists to meet the disaster-hit people,” the Minister said.
The Disaster Management Minister expressed his displeasure at some estate companies shirking their duties by shifting the burden of relocating their workers in landslide prone areas to the government agencies. “It is so unfortunate that the estate company which owns the land trying to evade their responsibilities. The company which owned the estate where Wednesday’s landslide occurred had been informed of the impending disaster and the question why it had failed to take action to evacuate people from landslide prone areas in time. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the IGP to investigate this,” Minister Amaraweera said.
He said that there was no document or register of all the residents who lived in the line-houses in Meeriyabedda, Koslanda. “There had been one set of document containing the list of names of the people who lived there with a midwife in her office. But, both midwife and her office have been buried in the landslide.”
Amaraweera said that there were many other estates parts of which had been identified as landslide prone areas. “We would soon bring about new laws before this House holding the owners of such estates responsible to provide their employees with houses in safe areas.”
Minister thanked the Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe for stating that he would join efforts initiated by the government to provide relief to the affected people setting aside political differences in the hour of need. He also thanked JVP Uva Provincial Council member Samantha Vidyaratne and the latter’s supporters for joining hands with the government officials in relief and rescue operations.