Impoverished residents of Thotalanga, 300 to 400 families, denizens of the Henmulla Nawa Niwasa watte and the Kajima Watte down Ferguson Road, who were without any prior notice forcibly evicted by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) on February 16, continued their protest and demonstration overnight.
The UDA comes under the purview of the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Region Development.
Rajan, a resident of the area, who on 2015 December 30, was forcibly evicted from the Henmulla Nawa Niwasa after the UDA forcibly demolished shanty houses in the said Watte, and had subsequently set himself up in Kajima Watte, said that the backhoes which had ridden roughshod over the shanties which contained almirahs (cupboards/wardrobes) with belongings, and had also resulted in two children being hospitalized.
One child, a 13-year-old sustained back injuries and is receiving treatment in hospital while the other, a four-year-old is feared dead, he added.
“There were about 400 houses. They demolished half on February 16. We did not know until they turned up. We were not informed in prior. We continued our protest and demonstration overnight. There is also the Weligoda (Sand) park nearby. The dozers and backhoes are still there. A representative from the UDA called Lasantha was the one supervising the demolition. Minister of Finance, Ravi Karunanayake had previously promised us housing, yet when we informed the Colombo North office of his, they did not heed us. Ministers, Sajith Premadasa and Patali Champika Ranawaka have not come to see us. The Police just to clear the traffic on the bridge we are occupying as part of the protest and demonstration want 10 of us to come and meet Ranawaka. Why should we? He should come. There are so many families here. What if the 10 are arrested on fabricated evidence? We hope that MPs or Ministers will solve this matter. We shifted from Henmulla Nawa Niwasa to Kajima Watte last December because the authorities asked us to. They should have told us not to set ourselves up here. One needs about Rs 75,000 to Rs 80,000 to build a house. We will not stop. We will continue this tomorrow,” Rajan observed.