Petitioners of ’34 Watte’ in Wanathamulla, Borella whose houses were demolished last week by the UDA in a clear violation of the undertaking they made before the Human Rights Commission, are due to meet with the UDA tomorrow with their lawyers to discuss a settlement to the issue, as instructed by the Appeal Courts yesterday.
Appeal Court judge Upaly Abeyrathne had instructed the UDA to discuss with the petitioners and their lawyers of the possibility of amicably settling the issue when the case was heard today while also emphasizing in open court that no steps should be taken to damage or destroy the petitioners homes until the matter was gone into and decided the Court.
Senior Counsel M A Sumanthiran who appeared on behalf of the petitioners had stated that the petitioners were all granted these lands which they are presently being forced to leave, through deeds executed by the Colombo Municipal Council as far back as 1979. He had pointed out therefore, the attempts being made to evict them from their land were lacking procedures set out in law and urged the Deputy Solicitor General Aruna Obeysekara who appeared on behalf of the UDA to cite legal basis used to effect the evictions.
Obeysekea had informed the Courts that the residents of 34 Watte were being ousted in order to provide better accommodation to undeserved households within Colombo inclusive of all amenities. But the Counsel appearing for the petitioners had stated that the government was misguided since they have not consulted the people on their needs nor offered a legal basis behind their actions.
It had also been pointed out that despite the government’s claims, the petitioners would actually be worse off if they moved to the alternative housing that has been offered by the UDA as they are smaller in floor size and since the families have been asked to pay Rs. 100,000 for each apartment within three months of moving in and a considerable amount of money over the next two/three decades in order to obtain their title to the property. It should be noted that these demands have been made despite the petitioners possessing legal titles to their houses at present and residing in them as rightful owners for decades.
The case had been revised for further re-fixed for further support on September 26.