Several houses in 34 Watta demolished; Eran cries foul

Friday, 19 September 2014 00:22 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Several houses in the 34 Watta area in Wanathamulla, Borella, were demolished yesterday after residents were offered alternative homes by the Urban Development Authority. However some residents of the area protested the move by the UDA but moved out after heavy rain lashed the area at the time the houses were being demolished. Sources claimed UDA officials accompanied by two military officials in uniform visited 34 Watta in Wanathamulla and threatened residents of consequences if they resisted the demolition of their houses. The demolition comes after four persons filed a writ application in August 2014 preventing the UDA from breaking their homes in 34 Watta in Wanathamulla. The case is presently before the Court of Appeal. The Human Right Commission gave an order in March 2014 preventing the demolition. The military official who allegedly threatened petitioners is a respondent in the case that had been filed. UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne, who visited the people living at this location said: “it is beyond any accepted norm of good governance practice for a military official or Government official to threaten people with demolition of their houses or harm, particularly when they have petitioned court. The Human Rights Commission has given an order preventing demolition.” “If government officials have no regard and respect for the law and courts, a day will come when people may take the law into their own hands. All residents need to be aware that these petitioners have deeds for their houses and are not those illegally occupying state land. The judicial process must take precedence over any administrative decisions in a civilised society. It is the law and its dispensation that holds us all together,” Eran emphasised. The petitioners, who have title deeds to the lands dating back to 1979, assert that the UDA is acting outside the legal framework applicable when acquiring private lands provided in the Land Acquisition Act. The petitioners further state that the UDA has severely undervalued their premises and the only proposal provided by the UDA at present as an alternative is a premises which is much smaller in size to their existing property with the petitioners being required to pay a large sum of money for a period of 20 years. As such, the petitioners had prayed for a Writ of Certiorari quashing the decision to forcefully evict them and for a Writ of Prohibition preventing the UDA or its agents or representatives from acting in any manner which would be prejudicial to and/ or interfere with the petitioners’ peaceful and quiet possession of their property.