The Government yesterday defended the move to evict a group of shanty dwellers in the Thotalanga area, saying they were given houses at an alternate location but they had returned and taken over Government land illegally.
Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that the situation which arose in Thotalanga on Tuesday and Wednesday could not be compared to what took place when the former Government was in power.
The former Government had at the time been accused of forcefully evicting shanty dwellers and now the current Government is also facing the same accusation.
Ranawaka said that all except a few shanty dwellers had been given houses and in some special cases two houses so the Thotalanga situation could not be compared to what took place when the former Government was in power.
He said the shanty dwellers were asked to leave by 31 January but they did not leave and those who did had returned and begun constructing new shelters on the land in Thotalanga illegally.
Shanty dwellers in the Thotalanga area blocked traffic and staged a protest after their homes were demolished on the directions of the Urban Development Authority on Tuesday.
The protest continued overnight and was temporarily called off last morning but resumed again.
Ranawaka however said the Government looked at negotiating a peaceful end to the issue and did not use force. (Colombo Gazette)