Written by Staff Writer
05 Aug, 2014 | 12:01 am
On August 4, the distribution of drought relief commenced for those affected by the adverse dry weather conditions.
However, it is learnt that this relief is only granted to people who engage in manual labour to clean out silt deposited in tanks.
Over 1.1 million people have been affected by the drought. It has also destroyed 10,000 hectares of farmland and caused a further 45,000 hectares to become barren.
Silt collected in the tanks should be cleared up if the lives of these areas residents who make a living through agriculture are to be protected. In order to qualify to receive money or dry rations through the government relief programme, residents are required to dig up 15 cubic feet of silt from the tanks that have dried up. According to Economic Development Officer, Shanthi Kumara Punchihewa, an individual should work for a minimum of five hours for 12 days. After six days of work, they will be given dry rations worth Rs. 3000.
Residents of the Canton Wewa area in Hambantota were seen toiling in this manner in order to obtain the drought relief.
The News 1st correspondent provided us following details:
“Ee were able to witness the difficulties that the people have to go through to obtain government relief. We were able to witness the people working hard to remove silt from this dried up tank bed. The area residents explained to us that they would not receive relief unless they remove a large amount of silt.”
Several residents expressed their grief over the situation.
“We haven’t even received a wheelbarrow. We have to move this silt with bags. This is a task that should be done with backhoes. However, they have asked these innocent people to do this. They don’t even have anything to drink or eat.”
“We have to move this soil quite a large distance. We don’t even have a wheelbarrow; we used gunny bags to do it. We title this land with our children without any food or water.”
“We need to move this soil to the edge of the bunt. When it rains all this soil is washed into the tank. Our labor is in vain. They said they would give us tractors, but we move this soil on our backs.”
However, the Hambantota district secretary revealed that instructions have been issued to the divisional secretaries to allocate vehicles to move this soil.
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