Apr 15, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today expressed the government's regret for not being able to move the massive garbage dump in Meethotamulla in time before the tragedy struck despite plans to do so were in progress.
"We express our regret to the people of Meethotamulla who had to face an unexpected disaster with the dawn of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year," the Premier said in a special statement.
He said the plans necessary for the removal of the Meethotamulla garbage dump have been made and actions were being taken but the tragedy occurred before they could complete the task.
"The government expresses its regret in not being able to complete the process before this incident took place," he said.
The Premier, who is currently in Japan on an official visit, said as soon as he learnt about the incident, he contacted all relevant officials including the President Maithripala Sirisena and held discussions on relief efforts. The President has already initiated action and implemented coordination for relief services.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has discussed maintaining law and order with Minister Sagala Ratnayake following the disaster and discussed police operations at the ground level with the IGP and MP S.M. Marikkar.
The Premier said after receiving the preliminary report on the situation this morning, the Colombo district coordinating committee gathered at the Ministry of Disaster Management with relevant officials and discussed the next course of action.
He said that committee will reach an agreement and notify the public with regard to providing relief to all the affected people, including the families who lost their loved ones, injured persons and those who lost property or incurred property damages.
The Premier said that the promise made by the government to remove the garbage dump is still unchanged and that the necessary steps are being expedited. He said during discussions with President Sirisena, the latter has suggested expediting the process even further.
The Premier said in recent months the government has accepted plans proposed by MP Marikkar and they are incorporated into the action plan to remove the garbage dump. "We have to act on those plans promptly," he added.
The Prime Minister assured that all the plans to remove the garbage dump are eco-friendly and lawful and that the removal of the garbage dump will not pollute or harm the environment of any area.
"The government will take action to resolve the main problem. It is the responsibility of the government. Innocent people should not have to pay with their lives," he said.
The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to all those who continued to provide relief to the victims during the New Year holidays.