Illegal settlers residing near oil pipeline request Sri Lankan government to provide permanent dwellings

Nov 07, Colombo: Illegal settlers living near a major oil pipeline in the Bloemendhal area of the Sri Lankan capital say they will move if the government provided them with permanent housing.

The residents settled illegally in the area where the major pipeline transporting oil from Colombo port to Kolonnawa storage ruptured last week leaking oil, say they experienced immense hardships due to the leak.

The authorities closed off the area evacuating the residents since they had started to collect the oil that was leaking from the pipeline.

The residents say although they realize the danger of living near the pipeline they are compelled to live there as they have no other choice.

The dwellers say they are prepared to evacuate if the government provides them with another option.

The authorities have earlier warned the dwellers occupying the land on the pipeline to move as possible leaks can pose threat to their lives but they have not heeded the warning.

Currently, over 400 squatter families live in shanties alongside, and in some cases, right above the pipeline.

Petroleum officials say the leaks have been detected in several locations earlier but they are not able to carry out further examinations or repair work on the underground pipelines without evacuating the settlers first.

The officials warn of a catastrophic event that could affect a larger segment of the city population if the squatter problem is not addressed soon.

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