By H,M. Dharmapala and Kusal Chamath
Residents of the area are living in constant fear of any possible danger of a Dengue epidemic due to the dilapidated waste water drains in the access road leading from Galle road to the highly populated Ratmalana irrigation housing scheme.
They pointed out that the waste water drains in a dilapidated state, were filled with garbage and stagnant water due to neglect of maintenance. They expressed concern about leaving their children to the mercy of the Dengue mosquito and accused the municipal council of turning a deaf ear to their continual representations in this regard.
A resident of the housing scheme Wijesiri Wickremaratne (50) said “The drains have been obstructed with rank vegetation since long, without any attention by the municipal health authorities. Waste water drains in the heart of the town and in the by-roads within the municipal limits have been neglected for years and those in the Irrigation housing scheme were the worst affected. The side drains have not been maintained properly and they are now filed with garbage obstructing the free flow of water. Stagnant water has created Dengue mosquito breeding grounds. It is sad that the health officers of the Municipal Council who take legal action if a coconut shell filled with water was found in a home garden, have not paid any attention to the side drains in a highly populated area.”
Another occupant of the housing scheme Dilshan Suranimala said several houses in the housing scheme had been vacated after the officers retired from service. He pointed out that the abandoned houses had now been left to the mercy of the shrub jungle creating a health hazard.
“We cleared the shrub jungle and the home gardens of the abandoned houses to prevent dengue mosquito breeding, but to no avail. Now we refrain from entering the abandoned home gardens in fear of legal action against us on the charge of trespass. The storm water drains are obstructed with shrub jungle, but no one would undertake to clean them. This area had been declared a high risk zone of Dengue fever when several patients were reported. Hundreds of children attending the pre-school are exposed to the danger . Meanwhile, the shrub jungle is infested with poisonous snakes,” he said.
Residents of the area requested the Irrigation Department and the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Municipal Council to repair and maintain the waste water drainage system and to clear the shrub jungle in the housing scheme. They pointed out that the abandoned houses could be rented to the families of shanty dwellers.