Minister’s site inspection exposes lies and violations  Daily Mirror by Piyumi Fonseka
Posted on September 18th, 2018

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

Minister de Silva along with other govt officials and residents at the construction site yesterday

There is no doubt that Sri Lanka should have more and more investors, paving the way for economic growth, but not at the cost of environment and its people. A country must have development that is sensitive to the concerns of its people. Therefore, the responsible authorities must strike a balance between environment and development.

The Daily Mirror on September 13 published an Expose’ titled ‘Nuisance next door’ quoting a group of residents in Off Buthgamuwa Road, Rajagiriya who stated that an Indian property developer, Iconic Developments Private Limited, was allegedly involving in the illegal filling of a marsh, forcibly using a private road and building an unauthorised bridge as the main access to the company’s new super-luxury condominium project named ‘Iconic Galaxy’.

Building a bridge across the canal

Although an official of the SLLRDC initially denied having given permission to construct a bridge, subsequent to residents providing a copy of a letter signed by GM of SLLRDC confirming that permission was granted for a bridge at the planning committee held on 7th Dec 2011, officials of SLLRDC admitted having granted approval for it. Residents questioned as to who approved the design of the bridge because what the developer is constructing is not a bridge, but a massive ramp; which stretched from one side of the canal right up to their building. This goes over the canal and canal reservation. It was further pointed out that if the design of the ramp was approved by SLLRDC, only residents of Iconic project would be able to use the bridge and that the residents’ right of way into the area and to cross the canal would be denied. Further it was pointed out that if this design had been approved, it would have effectively conceded the canal and canal reservation to a private Indian company. The minister mentioned that this had to be the only bridge of this kind in Sri Lanka.

When I read above article today , an incident which took place when I was Heading SLLRDC during President Premadasa related to Royal  Park which was  one of the first high-rise development put up by a Korean Company by the side of  Lake drive in Rajagiriya.

Land was purchased from a person who was a supporter of the government at that time .Marshy Land was filled with no approval before I took the helm of the corporation.

Land owner started building a culvert without permission along the canal by Lake Drive. SLLRDC  engineers have requested the land owner to stop building the culvert but the owner refused to budge.

I was told about the situation, which prompted me to visit the site to inspect. Owner’s relative who was at the site came to the car and I told him that they should not build the culvert with such a narrow span which may affect free flow of rain water

This person abused and threatened me and I hurriedly retreated and complain to Borella Police

ASP of the police contacted the owner to come police to be arrested for threatening a public officer.

Early morning next day I got a call around 4 am from the President himself who asked me about the incident and requested me to settle as he was a party supporter.

I conveyed the message to the then secretary of the ministry and contacted the police to ask him to apologize to me and settle the matter to avoid any repercussions from the President.

An inquiry was held in the ministry and the land owner was told to stop construction of the culvert and forced to build Bridge with a wider span.

Land owner did not stop at that and handed over s file full of allegations to the President accusing me of a stooge of Minister Athulathmudali whom I have never met at that time

I was called by the President who confronted me but after Secretary of Ministry none other than one of the finest civil servant Mr Aillaperuma intervened and explained to the President that the allegation was baseless.

Same person hang some banners against Athulathmudali and Gamini when they fell out with Premadasa .

After the demise of President Premadasa .Gamini and Athulathmudali re-joined the GOP under President DBW .

Same person hanged banners praising both rebel minsters afterwards.

This is the type of people in our resplendent island and what is happening in Buthgamuwa is of similar nature where the developer may have some connection to a politician other than the Minister who visited the site.

I will be surprised if the developer removes the culvert and build a proper bridge ever.

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

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