The residents of Dikarawa and Aluthgama in the Ella Divisional Secretariat live in constant fear of any possible danger to their lives as cracks have started to appear in their houses. The two villages atop the Badulla-Bandarawela road have faced many natural catastrophes over the years, forcing the residents to leave their homes.
Cracks appeared in one of the houses
Among the many helpless folks in this endangered area is 25-year-old Kanchana Sandamali whose house, situated near a hermitage, has gone to wrack and ruin.
She remains disheartened as the housing loan she obtained to put up a shelter became worthless when cracks started appearing in the structure. Amidst these hardships, the poor girl is attending to the needs of her ailing mother and grandmother, both paralyzed. There is nothing Sandamali would not do for them. As such, we decided to pay a visit to Sandamali’s house and unfold a blind tale the world needs to hear.
Sandamali with her ailing mother and grandmother
As we entered her house, she gave us a warm welcome. She said she was waiting for her father to return from work. When we inquired about her father, she said, “My father is dumb. He is working at the School for the Deaf and Blind for a meager salary which is the sole income for us. If there is something, we eat. If not, we have nothing to do.”
Later, we visited other houses in the area. Staring from the bottom of the hill, we took note of the grievances of innocent and helpless people.
While walking door-to-door, we met J.A. Heenmenika (78) who lives in a cracked house with her husband.
Minister Amaraweera and Chief Minister Chamara inspecting one of the houses
“We live in constant fear of any possible danger to our lives. We go to the house of one of our relations at night as it is not safe in here. It is hard to fathom that the shelters we put up doling out all our earnings have been destroyed. No one looks into our grievances. It is the hard-knock life for us,” she said as tears poured down her cheeks. Next we met Nishadi whose house too was in a dilapidated condition. She said cuddling her daughter, “The walls and floor of our house are cracked. We cannot live like this any longer. It is very difficult. We don’t deserve this.”
Also, we heard that the service station of Nanda Wijesundara, who joined us on the journey, was faced with a water problem.
“The villagers have formed an organisation for community development and to reach out to philanthropists and other relevant authorities. We want some relief. However, Minister Amaraweera and Chief Minister Chamara visited our village in the recent past. They said they provided funds to the Badulla District Secretariat to attend to the needs of the people and to pay compensation to the residents of damaged houses. They said they would attend to the water problem, provide employment to those unemployed and provide a monthly rental for those evacuating their houses,” he said.
He further stated that officials of the Building Research Institute declared the region as a high-risk area. When we spoke to Ella Divisional Secretary Thanushka Abeywardena, she said the geologists who investigated the area had surmised that some 50 houses were facing a huge risk, and that rainfall could worsen the situation.