- Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaitivu Isle for the burials
By JAMILA HUSAIN
A leading Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka will this week send an official letter of concern to the global Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Muslim Congress, seeking their intervention to urge the Sri Lankan government to allocate a decent land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims.
The Daily Mirror learns that the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre, which is a member of the World Muslim Congress will raise serious concerns with the global bodies and will also send a letter to the World Muslim Congress office in Geneva urging for immediate intervention after the government announced that burials of the COVID-19 dead would take place on the Iranaithivu Island, in the Gulf of Mannar.
Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaithivu Isle for the burials and instead urged the government to find a suitable land elsewhere in the country.
The Daily Mirror learns that two lands have been proposed by the Muslim community - the Kupiyawatta burial grounds in Colombo and a five acre land in Mannar, in the north which belongs to a local mosque in the area, where ground water level reports have been carried out by the Geologists from the Department of Geology from the University of Peradeniya.
When questioned, a senior geologist from the Geology Department of the Peradeniya University confirmed that ground water level reports had been carried out on both the lands and the proposed land in Mannar was found to have low water levels.
Senior Muslim officials said the proposed land in Mannar was ready to undertake burials of the COVID-19 dead immediately and were concerned why these requests were ignored by the health authorities who were notified.
Meanwhile Minister of Water Supply, Vasudeva Nanayakkara told Daily Mirror that according to his knowledge, he was not aware of any feasibility report carried out on the Iranaithivu Island to bury COVID-19 dead but said he had proposed two more lands, one in the North and another in the East which had low water levels and was suitable to bury the COVID-19 dead. He said he had handed over these recommendations to the expert committee for them to decide.
An official from the Department of Geology, of the University of Peradeniya said they too had not conducted any studies on the Iranaitivu Island and it may have been conducted by private experts. There are 12 to 14 families residing on the island.
Director-General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena told the media yesterday that the decision to select Iranaitivu Island to bury COVID victims was temporary and preliminary.
He said the decision would be temporary until the committee comprising of Provincial Councils General Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries, Provincial and Divisional Health Directors and relevant government officers, determines a suitable location to bury COVID victims from their respective provinces.