Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka

Special mechanism to provide relief to those displaced due to fire in Kajeemawatte, on President’s directive

A special District Coordinating Committee meeting was held under the direction of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (28) to provide relief to those displaced by the fire that broke out last night (27) in a housing complex located in Kajeemawatte, Thotalanga. The future plans regarding those displaced was also discussed at this meeting.

It was revealed at this meeting that 306 persons residing in 71 houses had been displaced as a result of the fire. It was also revealed that 60 houses were completely destroyed, while another 11 houses were partially damaged. Out of 306 displaced people, 200 are adults and 106 are children. So far, the Colombo District Secretariat has made arrangements to accommodate the displaced people at the Modara Garden Community Hall and the Kelani Nadee Viharaya.

With the intervention and support of the Disaster Management Center, Colombo Municipal Council, Madampitiya Grama Niladhari Division, Police and the tri forces, steps have been taken to continue to provide basic facilities including food and water to the displaced persons.

Further, health facilities are maintained under the Regional Health Services Director. The District Secretary also stated during this discussion that with the assistance of several non-governmental organizations, including Sarvodaya, the required necessities and dry food rations were provided to the affected families.

Director General of the Urban Development Authority Mr. Prasad Ranaweera, pointed out that since 2007, Thotalanga Kajeemawatte has been maintained as an intermediate camp by the Urban Development Authority, and by the end of 2014, houses were provided to all the residents.

However, the Urban Development Authority also pointed out that since 2015, the land has been occupied by squatters from time to time.

During the discussion, it was decided that these houses caught fire on 03 occasions within the past two years, and that a formal and impartial investigation should be carried out immediately regarding the incident yesterday (27).

Accordingly, a committee headed by Major Pradeep Undugoda (Rtd) and Colombo District Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne was appointed. Other committee members include Colombo Divisional Secretary, Director General of the Urban Development Authority, General Manager of Housing Development Authority, Government Inspector, and Superintendent of Police in charge of the area, OIC of the Police Station of that area and Madampitiya Grama Niladhari Officer.

The committee was also informed to submit an urgent report to the President and the Prime Minister within 07 working days regarding the cause of the incident, future development of this area and proposed measures for the residents.

It was also directed that all displaced school children should be sent to school as usual from next Monday (October 03) and to be provided with necessary text books, exercise books, uniforms and shoes, and to provide required health facilities for pregnant mothers, mothers and women. It was also decided to continue the supply of cooked food and essentials in temporary shelters and to provide them all basic facilities.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Ministers Prasanna Ranatunga, Bandula Gunawardena, former Ministers Gamini Lokage, Sarath Weerasekera, Members of Parliament Eran Wickramaratne, Yadamini Gunawardena, Madhura Withanage, Major Pradeep Undugoda (Rtd) and Colombo District Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne attended this discussion.