Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said that a problem running for decades, perhaps as long as 20 years came to a head yesterday with the collapse of a part of the garbage mountain.
He said it was ironic that it was only a few weeks back that agreements were signed to begin waste to energy projects to finally deal with this perennial issue.
“Anyway, no more garbage will be dumped at this site and two temporary sites were identified this morning for which law enforcement officers will provide access to unblock protesters driven by petty political issues,” he said.
The Deputy Minister also said that it was unfortunate that even though payments had been made for those families under risk of land slides to move out some had not done so. They had even been advised to leave as recently as two days ago.
“Anyway, 13 of our 1990 ‘Suvaseriya’ units were allocated to deal with the search and rescue and our guys performed a stellar job taking the rescued to hospital. We have now recalled the units to their regular areas,” he said.
On the orders of the President and Prime Minister, a coordination committee to manage the situation was established this morning.
Present were Ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Susil Premjayanth, Patali Champika Ranawaka, A H M Fowzie, Mohan Lal Grero and MPs S M Marikar and Mujibur Rahman. Commander of the Army and IGP and all relevant government officials were also present.
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. 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.