All possible measures should be taken to ensure maximum security and safety of the people and locations during the annual Esala Perahara in Kandy, and a collective effort by the tri forces and police should be in place to face any threats or eventualities during the run up to the great religious pageant and during the Perahara days, the President has issued special directions in this regard, said so the Secretary Defence General SHS Kottegoda (Rtd) WWV RWP RSP VSV USP ndc at a special progress review meeting of the Esala Perahera held to discuss security measures taken by the tri forces and police at the Ministry, today (29 July 2019).
The meeting, attended by top brass of the security apparatus of the country saw matters pertaining to all aspects of providing security and ensuring safety of the people and locations attending this 10-day spectacular cultural pageant that draws hundreds and thousands of deities including foreign tourists to the historic hill capital each year, being taken up for discussion.
Authorities had commenced security preparations for the Esala Perahera (Cultural Pageant) two months prior to the Perahera that will begin on 05th August and will continue for the next ten days. This year, a special security blanket will be in force to face new forms of threat that had arisen following the unfortunate Easter Sunday bombings in April, this year.
The police, together with the tri forces and Special Task Force have mobilized their own intelligence apparatuses and other arms to strengthen special security arrangements in force this year. All access points to the city will be under constant supervision while road blocks, random checking and mobile checkpoints will be operational round the clock. Rider teams and mobile patrols will cover surrounding locations of the city and the Dalada Maligawa including the Udawattekele protected forest areas.
Police had taken action to verify the identities of the city residents and also visitors who had made booking at hotels and other lodging places to ascertain their identities. In addition, measures have also been taken to temporally stop all major construction work within the city including the city's sewer renovation project which lies directly below the Perahera route as a precautionary measure and also to enable free flow of traffic. Owners of buildings that have been identified as those that may pose a threat to safety of spectators have also been advised to make necessary renovations and already the owners have complied and have begun repair work on such buildings.
Boats will be placed in the Kandy lake while air passage will be made available by the Navy and Air Force respectively for special requirements. Drones will also be used for aerial surveillance. All Perahera performers will be issued with special identity cards and those who are found unsuitable to perform will not be allowed to enter the pageant. A special operations room will coordinate all security operations.
All entry/exit points will be manned by security forces and police personnel and a special traffic plan be operational to avoid traffic jams. Alternative routes have been identified and traffic will be diverted for those traveling to other areas without entering the city. Railway authorities have also responded positively to requests for increased train services during the Perahera season.
In addition to these arrangements Police Stations in the surrounding areas will also conduct security checks and road blocks.
The Diyawadana Nilame of the Dalada Maligawa Nilanga Dela Bandara, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Air Force, acting IG, Chief of Staff of the Navy, Chief of National Intelligence, Commandant of the STF, Military Liaison Officer of the MoD, senior tri forces and police officers were also present at the meeting.