Have you ever come down School Lane, Dematagoda? It looks like a lane from pre-historic times. The stark feature of this lane is that hundreds of vehicles and people have to pass through a collection of murky water that pours out of a drain about five feet deep.There are certain doubts about what makes the water so black and dirty. The sickening fact, however, is that a greater portion of this water is mixed with sewerage remnants.
So, people are made to walk through this water to get to the areas of Maradana, Maligawatte and Panchikawatte, with the water swishing all over their feet, trousers and skirts.
When there is a funeral in this area, people have to carry the coffin and walk through this water.
Everyone has to go under this tunnel, and each day hundreds of vehicles from Dematagoda, Maradana, Peliyagoda and other areas pass through this tunnel to get to the other side.
Recently, there was a huge protest by residents and some workers turned up to do a temporary clean up. This stopped the water for some time as the sand was removed.
This tunnel has been in existence for about 40 years. But it has never been cleaned. People have fallen into this drain and pot-hole ridden road in the dark and have broken their limbs. Sadly, old people, women and children have to go through this everyday. This is because they are poor.
There is much talk about Dengue. I shudder to think of the germs doing the rounds in this area.
The people in this area are not millionaires. They have their own problems. The last thing they need is sickness in their homes.
One of these days the bridge on top of the tunnel is going to give way. It is old and unattended. This is a crowded area. There are always women and children on the bridge. The menfolk have to pass this area because they are compelled to go to work.
School children have to walk from under this tunnel and through this muddy dirty area to get to school.
To add to all this disarray, the trees are never cut, and the existing lamp posts are covered. There is no light near this dark area where the tunnel is. It is like a scene from a horror film. There are thieves snatching necklaces from women; and men who have to go through great hardship.
The protest did get some action from the authorities, but all this is temporary. Our plea as residents of School Lane, Dematagoda is simple: give us a clean, healthy and safe environment to live in. We have done our part. We have as a last resort organised a Shramadana campaign, and the authorities must do their part by the thousands of residents who are helpless.
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