Bishop of Badulla decries bid to blame Koslanda victims

By Madura Ranwala

Bishop of Badulla Rt. Rev. Dr. Winston Fernando strongly condemned statements attributed to various government politicians that lives wouldn’t have been lost due to Wednesday’s landslide at Koslanda if those living in areas prone to landslides had moved out as requested.

Rt. Rev. Fernando said that it was unfair for anyone to propagate such an opinion when those facing the risk were never provided with alternative land. Those who uttered lies to cover up their failure should be ashamed of, he said.

Rev. Dr. Fernando alleged that an attempt was being made to blame those who had perished under tragic circumstances. The economic condition of those who had survived Wednesday’s calamity too should be taken into consideration, the priest said, urging the government to adopt a long term plan to address the needs of the affected community.

Referring to a spate of landslides in Badulla, Badulusirigama, Bogahamaditta and Moragolla, Rt. Rev. Fernando said that the government as well as those sympathetic to the plight of the victims had provided relief though there was no proper strategy to help them. The priest expressed fear that the same could happen to Koslanda victims. Pointing out that the displaced couldn’t live at schools indefinitely, the priest asked where they could go when the government decided to reopen schools. The government should take tangible measures to ensure that the affected people received land and houses before they were asked `to vacate schools, the priest said.

Successive governments had ignored the contribution made by estate workers to the national economy, Bishop Fernando said. In spite of their contribution, they were a neglected lot, he said, urging the government to take meaningful steps to provide relief.

Responding to a query, the Bishop said that the church would vigorously take up their case unless the government responded to their needs."We’ll not remain silent," the Bishop said.

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