Apr 15, Colombo: Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harsha De Silva said today the government will bear all funeral expenses of the persons who lost their lives in the collapse of the Meethotamulla Garbage Dump and there will be no more garbage dumping at the site.
Expressing his deepest sympathies to the families, the Deputy Minister said the government will immediately begin evacuations of those under threat.
As the country celebrated the dawn of a traditional new year, a section of the 300-foot landfill caught fire and collapsed yesterday killing 16 people and burying over 50 low-income homes.
In a Facebook post the Deputy Minister said a problem running for decades came to a head yesterday with the collapse of a part of the garbage mountain.
Ironically, the government has signed agreements few weeks ago to begin projects to convert the waste to energy as a solution to remove the garbage dump, Dr. De Silva said.
The Minister assured the people that no more garbage will be dumped at the Meethotamulla site. He said two temporary sites were identified this morning for which law enforcement officers will provide access to unblock protesters driven by petty political issues.
He noted that it was unfortunate that even though payments had been made for those families under risk of landslides to move out some had not done so. "They had even been advised to leave as recently as two days ago," he said
The Deputy Minister said on the orders of the President and the Prime Minister, coordination committee to manage the situation was established this morning at a meeting held with the relevant authorities. Ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Susil Premajayantha, Patali Champika Ranawaka, A H M Fowzie, and Mohan Lal Grero along with MPs S M Marikkar and Mujibur Rahman, Commander of the Army, and IGP were also present at the meeting.
Security Forces Headquarters (West) commander Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe was put in charge of search and rescue where an area of about 150m by 75m is being carefully cleaned up.
Deputy Minister de Silva said the military is using its trained men and equipment and is doing a thorough job to look for those who might be still trapped. The utility lines have been shutoff and safety concerns addressed for the personnel on the job.
SDIG Nandana Munasinghe is in charge of public order. The District Secretary of Colombo is overall in charge of all administrative coordination matters.
He said already close to a hundred people have been shifted to temporarily holding locations. Schools and others facilities will be moved as well. The Prime Minister has ordered the Treasury to release all necessary funds to meet all financial requirements.