Meethotamulla calamity JVP to sue Govt for manslaughter

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By 2017-04-21

By Niranjala Ariyawansha

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is planning to take legal action against those responsible for the Meethotamulla garbage mountain collapse, alleging it to be tantamount to manslaughter.

Attorney Sunil Watagala, JVP Western Provincial member addressing a press briefing yesterday said, legal action will be taken by the party against all those behind this tragedy, as per the Municipal Council Act, and the Penal Code, especially since there had been prior warning that such a calamity could take place. "Following the Meethotamulla tragedy so far 32 bodies have been discovered. They also claim that another 30 bodies could still be lying underneath the debris. This is not a natural disaster. This was an act of manslaughter brought on by carelessness. As per clause 129 of the UC Act the removal of garbage is a function vested in the respective Municipal and Urban Councils. And as per clause 130 of the same Act they have to recycle the garbage and turn it into a profitable by-product. Besides, when it had been warned that a tragedy could happen they had not heeded it. As per clause 298 of the Penal Code if a death is brought about through carelessness any person so convicted could be subjected to a five-year jail term. This calamity could have been averted. Due to the officials' failure to respond in time, the people paid for that negligence with their lives," said Watagala.

He charged that the Rajapaksa regime and the current administration ought to be held accountable for the Meethotamulla tragedy with the former having begun to dump garbage at the venue without even having obtained the necessary environment evaluation report, back in 2009. He added that six months ago the Meethotamulla landfill had caught fire while the houses nearby had been submerged in the floods only two months before the New Year's day tragedy.

"The latest tragic event took place on the night of 11 April. I went there and looked at the place on 12 April. Part of that place had begun to give way with a concrete slab having broken. On all three occasions we informed the relevant officials but to no avail," he added.

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