Walapane tragedy : Did a nearby quarry have any effect?

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COLOMBO (News 1st) – The Geological Sciences Department of the University of Peradeniya state that the quarry maintained nearby may have been a causative factor that led to the landslide in Malapattaawa in Walapane that claimed three lives.

Operations to retrieve the body of the boy who was trapped underneath the earth continued today as well.

While the authorities continued to dig through the earth to find you Kalana Pathum, his parents and sister went on their final journey without him in the amidst the tears of locals.

The 16-year-old Kalana Pathum was due to sit for his Ordinary Level exams.

En route to the funeral, the locals placed the bodies on the Padiyapella main road in Walapane and carried out a protest.

The locals alleged that although this looks like a natural incident, that is the result of erosion from the large scale quarry.

A local stated that the activities of this quarry was stopped in 2015 due to the opposition against it and it began its operations again when the new council came into power.

“We did not support this quarry even when it started. We have informed the Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha and he told us that they have the required permits” she added.

News 1st, on multiple occasions, attempted to contact the Chairman of the Walapane Pradeshiya Sabha Ajantha Hiththatiya, who has accusations directed at him over this issue. Our efforts, however, proved futile.

However today, he arrived to pay his respects to those who passed away.

Saliya Bandara, Divisional Secretary of Walapane:

“There were no indications that such an incident would occur in the Malapattawa area. By the looks of it, there is a high chance that an explosion at the quarry might have had something to do with what happened because the landslide occurred very close to the quarry.

We have received information that the company operating the quarry had paid a certain amount of compensation to the families living in the area.”

While the quarry was located 100m from the house that was destroyed by the landslide, this had been declared as a landslide-prone area by the National Building Research Organization.

The family of those who passed away had been told to evacuate.

Then how is it that this company was permitted to operate a quarry and also carry out explosions?

Buddhika Wijekoon, Geologist of NBRO, Nuwara Eliya District Office noted that in Naranthalawa there has been a slip of the top layer and the immediate impact that this could have is vibration. He added that there is a separate Government entity to monitor this and it is on those recommendations that the NBRO provides recommendations to projects.

Prof. Athula Senaratne, Geology Dept of the University of Peradeniya noted that not only close to the Walapane quarry if there is such a quarry anywhere else earth layers will be unstable. He added that repeated explosions and the resulting vibrations cause this soil to loosen.

He went on to note that clay may have formed over time, so with incessant rains, there may be downward pressure which leads to this kind of earth slips.

Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero:

“A large scale stone quarry racket and a soil racket is being carried out by politicians. The tragic incident that took place in Walapane was a result of that.  The stone quarry was located 50 meters away from this house. There was a large scale stone racket taking place there. The residents constantly warned of this to the Divisional Secretariat and to the Police.

The most important fact is that the Disaster Management Centre has issued a warning to the occupants of this house of a possible landslide and has advised them to evacuate.

But the officials at the Divisional Secretariats or at the Disaster Management Centre has failed to inform these people of this massive stone quarry located 50 meters away from the house.

But no one was able to stop this stone quarry that operates under the influence of some 3 major politicians. I am certain that this stone quarry was the reason for this tragedy.

Therefore these politicians must be brought before the law as wrongdoers.”

Meanwhile, President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has instructed state officials to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and welfare of the public in the event of adverse weather conditions.

In a press release, the Presidential Secretariat said, all relevant officials have been informed by a circular to take immediate action in coordination with the Ministry of Defence and the Disaster Management Center in the face of disaster risk.

The coordination and review of all activities will be carried out under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.


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Author: ApnayOnline

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