Wellawatte building collapse: Minister asks IGP to file legal action under Penal Code

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Megapolis and Western Development minister, Patali Champika Ranawaka has asked the IGP to enforce the law by instituting legal action under the Penal Code against all those responsible for the construction of the five-storey building which collapsed at Wellawatte last Thursday.“It was a structural failure which led to the collapse of this building and I have written to the IGP asking him to bring before the law all those responsible, irrespective of their standing in society, he said.

With another body found under the rubble yesterday, the death toll has risen to two, while 24 others who were injured were hospitalized. Preparations were underway to host a wedding ceremony at the time the building crashed.

Hundreds of lives would have been in peril if the building had collapsed at a time a public reception was being here there, the minister pointed out.The Megapolis Ministry said initially action will be initiated against unauthorized constructions alongside the canals in Wellawatte.

There are around 1,800 constructions in the Wellawatte and Bambalapitiya areas identified as substandard and unauthorized. They will be screened for gross violation of construction procedures and stern action will be taken against the owners, the Ministry warned in a statement.

Minister Ranawaka said a sample survey was launched in February 2017 to list out unauthorized constructions in Colombo.

“This survey will be expanded beyond Colombo with the assistance of the Statistics Department. So far, we have identified about 10,000 substandard structures which had mushroomed in Dehiwala, Mt. Lavinia and Kolonnawa as a result of unplanned urbanization. Action will be taken against the owners. Some of the buildings may have to be demolished while some others may be fined,” he said.

He said the owner had obtained approval for the plan from the Colombo Municipal Council for a housing complex to be built on this land in 2009 but had not obtained a Certificate of Compliance prior to occupying the building.

To obtain a Certificate of Compliance, the standard of the building should be evaluated by a team of technical experts. This had not been done for this housing complex. Against this backdrop, the owner had started constructing another building adjacent to the housing complex on a section of the canal reservation land without approval from the authorities. This was the building which collapsed,” the minister said.

The minister said the incident was an eye opener to expedite action against unauthorized and substandard constructions in the country and highlighted the need for an effective and rapid legal procedure to take action against the owners of these building constructions.