ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 27
Kandy Times

Improper land use cause of landslides, claims KMC

By N. Dilshath Banu Pix Athula Devapriya

The recent heavy showers left a great impact in the Kandy District, with most number of landslides occurring in and around the Kandy city limits. Passing the road leading to Kandy, many can still witness the mud and debris washed towards the roads from the high altitudes.

Among these high altitudinal slopes, modern houses, some with two and three storey buildings as well as hamlets were built around. In most cases, many risky areas have now become residential areas.

Only some houses had received approval from the relevant authorities for their constructions while most had not been approved. Authorities said that improper or illegal land use were the cause of the recent landslides in the Kandy District.

In Mahaiyawa, above the main road tunnel, a series of nearly 30 unauthorized dwellings had been built beside the rail track. These people had encroached on the land meant as a railway reserve.

“We didn’t have a house and built this home nine years ago. Even now, I live on a daily wage job. My wife and I paste paper bags from which we earn Rs. 10 per 100 bags,” said 55 year-old Y.W. Upatissa, a resident of this railway reserve.

Like Upatissa, all the people living in these dwellings are daily wage earners. The heavy rains which poured a couple of weeks ago caused landslide in their backyards during the night. Most of them hadn’t even heard anything, and once they woke up, they had seen that half of their houses were no more.

Nilanthi Kumari Dissanayke who is 37 years, is also living in this plot of land and her house was completely damaged. She said that they were told to relocate, but did not wish to leave their home in fear of losing their belongings.

“We were told to move from here and we temporarily stayed in the temple for few days and came back. If we are not at home, our things will be stolen and we’ll lose whatever we have earned with difficulty,” she said.

Around the town area, in Suduhumpola, 47-year-old Sriyani Perera’s front yard, a soil bank attached to her bedroom, was washed away along the steep road. “I’ve been living here for nearly 15 years. We got permission to build our house from the Municipal Council,” she said.

Her neighbour, 67-year-old Wasanthi Jayathilake, whose house was in near collapse said that they were living there since 1983 and when building the house they had contacted the Municipal Council.

“After that we were not aware of any land use practice when building other portions of the house,” she said.

Kandy Deputy Mayor Suminda Wickramasinghe said that most of the time people obtained KMC approval when building their first construction.

However, when they were doing additions to those constructions, they did not bother about approvals, which often lead to improper land use practices.

“Whenever anyone wanted to build a house within the Kandy Municipal limits, they have to put forward a house plan to us. Then we will forward it to our Planning Committee comprising representatives of the Road Development Authority, National Housing Development Authority and other relevant organizations. It is only when this committee approves the plan that people could construct their houses,” explained the Deputy Mayor.

He added that once the plan was approved if the particular construction was not done within a year, they had to renew the plan by forwarding it to the Committee again.

Mr. Wickramasinghe said that according to the Planning Committee regulations, constructions below the 1,800 metre above the sea level demarcation were approved. However, constructions up to 2,000 metres were allowed with considerations. Constructions above 2,000 metre mark were never allowed, but unauthorized constructions had come up above the limits.

“We have a flying squad to stop such constructions. People complain of illegal constructions only if they inconvenience them. Otherwise they remain silent,” he said.

We will relocate: AGA

Kandy Additional GA B.E.H.M. Sugathadasa said that steps were being taken to resettle the people in land belonging to the Mahaweli Authority.

“We hope to discuss this with the Mahaweli Authority. If they allow us to resettle the affected people in the land belonging to them, we will consider resettlement in Padiyathalawa, one of the Divisions in Ampara district which is closest to Kandy,” said Mr Sugathadasa.

He added that if they find alternative land, they would also move the people living in high risk areas.

“We cannot do anything on already built constructions. However, if there are risky areas, we’ll take necessary steps to move these people away,” he said.


Landslide prone areas:
  1. Bahirawakanda, Asgiriya, and Primrose Place
  2. Nagasthenna, Suduhumpola
  3. Bowalawatta
  4. Peradeniya, Kiribathkubura and surrounding areas
  5. Unauthorized constructions in
    Niththawala Railway Reserve
  6. Thalathu Oya
  7. St. Clares Colony
  8. Pujapitiya Bokkawala area
  9. Panabokka
  10. Kandhakubura Colony
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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.