May 12, 2017

Ministry unhappy with Army chief’s orders over Salawa blast! Featured

Defence secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi on May 09 summoned Army commander Lt. Gen. Krishantha de Silva and questioned him with regard to an order he has given in connection with the blast at the Salawa Army camp in Kosgama, clearing senior officers friendly with him and recommending punishment for several juniors.

Krishanthadesilva 670px 12 05 17Ministry sources say the secretary was not satisfied by the explanations given by the Army chief.

There are accusations that de Silva has issued the order in total disregard of a report by an investigation panel appointed by the ministry into the blast on 05 June 2016.

Ministry-appointed panel report

The report by the committee headed by Air Vice Marshal Krishan Yahampath has not found a clear cause for the blast, blamed anyone or ordered punishment, but only explained the circumstances.

Also, the government analyst and the CID are yet to submit their respective investigation reports.

However, the Army commander issued the controversial order on April 18.

Cover up of those responsible

According to reports reaching Sri Lanka Mirror, the defence ministry is of the view that de Silva has covered up the officers friendly with him.

A former top military official told SLM that tradition was for the commander to take the responsibility and resign from his position if such an incident happened.Salawa 670px 12 05 17

He said that after being appointed the commander, de Silva has never visited the Army’s main arms and ammunition depots, at Veyangoda, Kosgama and Welisara.

Also, director-general of general staff and director operations have both neglected their duties of ensuring safety of stored ammunition, approving the issuance and transportation of ammunition and disposing of the ammunition not fit for use.

The Salawa camp comes under the security forces headquarters at Panagoda, whose commanding officer Lt. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, under whom function a division commander and a brigade commander, has never visited the Salawa camp.

They being the Army chief’s friends, they have not been mentioned by him in his order.

In charge of the ammo dump

At the time of the incident, the ammo dump at the Salawa camp had been under the charge of a lieutenant, who had not followed the required courses – young officers course and the ammunition technical officer course.

Previously, a major was in charge, and he was given a punishment transfer six months before the incident.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Edima had refused in writing to appoint a second lieutenant to succeed him.

The commander has found fault with both Edima and the second lieutenant in question.

The Army has many officers with the ATO qualifications, but are deployed for other duties.

Only the colonel in charge of all the ammo dumps has been punished.

Those who have been blamed over the incident have decided to place their grievances before authorities through the commander.

Since the defence ministry is dissatisfied by the Army commander’s order, no follow up action has been taken yet.

Related articles:

Army shocked by its chief’s report into Salawa camp blast
Salawa blast victims demand compensation from govt.