Thirteen year old A Vinodhani a grade six student lives with her
family on Meeriyabedda Tea Estate in Koslanda.

Text and Pix by P D DE SILVA

She saw the devastation that was caused by the land slide that took place a few hundred meters
from her home on the morning of 29th of October 2014. She also knows
that the area where her house is has been recognized as a high risk
zone and that her parents have been asked to move to a safer place
which they have been unable to do for almost an year !

Today, Vinodhani’s family together with eighty six neighboring
families live in fear each time it rains hard not knowing at what
moment the floor they stand on will slide or sink under them!

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) has identified the
area on which Vinodhani’s house stands is ritch in under ground
springs, and highly susceptible to a land slide by circular bearing
reference NBRO/LRR MD/BD/L7/31/14551/A. The Divisional Secretary
Haldumulla Ms Shiromi Jeewamala in turn allerted the residents and
requested them by letter dated 30th June 2015 to evacuate their homes
sighting the NBRO warning.

The Divisional Secretaries letter states that action would be taken
to grant the house holder an alternative plot of land and also
requests them to be vigilant and take every prcaution to protect their
lives. The electricity to these houses was discontented as a safety
measure and the Little Flower pre school and the Meeriyabedda Tamil
Vidyalaya which were in proximity to these line rooms were relocated.

Keeping to her word the Divisional Secretary has seen that plots of
land were allocated to these families. But as at date no assistance
has been given to help these daily wage earners to build their
dwellings and they still live on unstable land !

The seventy five families who were displaced due to the earth slip in
October 2014 are to receive cosy little cottages at Poonagala a few
kilometers away within the next three months.

“I walk to school each day and if it rains hard I am unable to return
home because we have been warned not to cross the path of the former
earthslip and even when I get home I know it is not safe. At the
moment there is no place we can take shelter in safety” said
Vinodhini.

“Each time it rains hard we are asked to leave our houses which are
said to be in a hazzard zone. We don’t have any shelter to go to. I
have three children. My eldest son is married and has two kids we all
live in the same house. We were given plots of land close by but we do
not have enough money to build new houses. We earn a daily wage which
is not enough to buy our food” lamented fifty three year old
Pushparani.

“I have two children and we live in fear each time it rains hard. We
have been asked not stay in our houses if it rains hard but we do not
have a place to go” said Vijayakumari a resident of a line room in
Meeriyabedda Estate.

“The authorities worry about us only when it rains. They send the
police and ask us to leave our houses. We do not have any where to
take shelter. They should help us build a new house. The place where
we have been allocated land is further away from here. Our children
have a long walk to school and it costs Rs 700 a month to send one
child by three wheeler ” said S Kandasamy a kangani at the
Meeriyabedda Tea Estate.

Shiromi Jeewamala Divisional Secretary Haldumulla said “There are many
places within my area which have been recognized as areas where land
slides could occur. The area in reference is where the number 14 and
15 line rooms are situated. We are unable to provide all of them with
houses similar to the ones that were provided to the families affected
by the land slide. But we hope to provide them with some assistance to
build their houses. I have brought up the issue at the Badulla
District Committee too. I have advised these people to use what ever
resources they have and move out without endangering their lives and
the lives of their loved ones when they know very well that they are
living in a high risk area”