Feb 18, 2019

Over 100 families adversely affected due to Puttalam salterns (photos) Featured

Due to the waste water from the salterns being released into the Palaviya, Pachchakadu Mundal village in the Puttalam Divisional Secretariat area over many years and the storage of salt water, several of the houses in the area have been badly damaged, lament these house owners.

There are around 100 families residing in this village who have built their homes with great financial difficulty on their daily labour earnings.

However, they are facing great difficulties due to the salterns located close to their homes.

They claim that due to the salty water which is carried by the winds, the walls of their homes have been damaged and is cracking and crumbling due to the salt water.

These salterns have been coming up in large numbers over the years and the authorities turn a blind eye and ignore their plight, these residents said.

The saltern pools are also located close to the main road used by these residents and they claim that even the road is gradually eroding making transportation impossible.

While the road is eroding on one side due to the salterns, on the other side the road goes under water for the slightest rain. They charge that the reason the road goes under water is due to the large salt water storage tanks.

These poor residents are facing the threat of losing their homes and their families would end up on the streets due to the selfish actions of these saltern owners and the officials who support them. Some of these families have infants and they too are put in harm’s way due to these salterns.

When contacted a resident of Pachchakadu Mundal village, Suresh had this to say.

Our lives have been drowned by these salterns

“From as far as I can remember, the waste water from the saltern flow close to our homes, making it hard for us to even come into our gardens. Especially during the rains we cannot step out of our homes and the roads all go under water. During this time the government makes a big din about flood relief and the relief supplies provided to the affected people. But no one ever come here to see to our plight. During the election period they visit us to get our votes and when we tell them of our plight, they promise to come during the rainy season so the situation could be monitored and a solution provided. Thereafter we never see the colour of them ever again. These people have caged us into these salterns and no one cares about what happens to us. Having appealed to the government for many years, we are now fed up and that is why we decided to seek the help of the media,” Suresh said.

We have to paint the walls every six months

Ravi Chandran of the Pachchakadu Mundal village said, “We don’t expect them to move these salterns from here, but they must move the huge storage tanks because when they fill these tanks the entire road goes under water and then this excess water flows into our gardens. All we ask is that these tanks be moved and proper drainage systems be put in place and this road be done up so that our families can live peacefully with our children and not have to face all this trouble constantly. Around 30 houses in the Pachchakadu Mundal village have been damaged and the walls of these homes are crumbling due to the salt water. Most of these houses have to be renovated constantly and painted every six months. This is not something we can continue to do as we are cannot afford it. Even these saltern owners know our plight.”

We cannot go to the toilet as everyone can see

Another resident of the Pachchakadu Mundal village Sinnamma said, “We built this house with the greatest difficulty and nothing short of begging. But, today our house has been acquired by the saltern. When we go to bed at night, we don’t expect to wake up the next morning as our house is in such a dilapidated state. The walls have eroded so badly that we can see the crows flying above from inside the house. The Thatched houses have also been destroyed and only the eekles remain. The walls of the toilets are so badly eroded that when we go to the toilet there is no privacy and everyone can see through the eroded walls.”

Pics by K. Priyankara Kalupahana- Puttalam Corr.

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