Ratnapura Mayor cries foul over Gem Authority actions

Ratnapura Mayor Tyronne Attanayake said that the Ratnapura-Godawela road is the only alternative road that was built with the intervention of the Ratnapura Municipal Council at a cost of Rs.100 million, using provisions of the central government about two years ago to reduce the traffic congestion in the Ratnapura town and the Gems and Jewellery Authority officials who have issued permits for gem mines- backhoe mines near the road, to businessmen and a few close associates has caused huge cracks and created a risk of a large area sinking.

He also said that the Gems and Jewelry Authority should take the responsibility for the extensive damage caused to the road and the adjacent areas. Speaking to the media after visiting the place on Saturday (31) the mayor said that an alternative road was needed to reach the town without any hassle.

“This road was constructed with an intention of easing the traffic congestion in the Ratnapura town”, he said.

“However, it could not be done for many years due to the lack of finances.With the construction of this alternative road, traffic congestion in the city of Ratnapura reduced to a large extent. In the meantime, setting aside all rules and regulations and laws, officials of the Gem and Jewellery Authority had issued permits to enable backhoe mines to be dug very close to this roadway, he said.

The Mayor added that Ratnapura Municipal Council members, residents in the area , the Sabaragamuwata Hetak Organization objected to this on several occasions and raised awareness among those officials. “Discussions were held with them and we pointed out that this destruction and disaster will take place. However, they had said that nothing will happen and if damage is caused they will take full responsibility for it”, he said.

He said that the Authority should renovate this road soon and bring it back to what it was. “Although we invited them to come and inspect the road and adjacent areas today, they did not turn up. They should accept full responsibility of this, the Mayor said

Expressing his views on this occasion, Municipal Councilor Siyam Mohammed said the Ratnapura town inundated at least once a year. “This is the only road by which the vehicle can bypass the rown.

“We pointed this out to officials on many occasions. We said that by digging mines using backhoe machines on either side of the road, damage will be caused and to immediately cancel the permits and stop digging. However, due to decisions made by officials of the Gem Corporation expecting various advantages the alternative road that was available to people has been destroyed by the Gems and Jewellery Authority.

He requested the Road Development Authority, Agrarian Services Department and the Gems and Jewellery Authority to take immediate steps to halt this destruction.

Sabaragamuwata Hetak Organization President Kumara Jayasiri addressing the occasion said; Although 100 million rupees was used to construct this alternative road several years ago, today it will cost Rs.500 million.We pointed out to officials of the Road Development Authority, the Gems and Jewellery Authority and the Archaeological Department several times that due to these large-scale backhoe mines which are being created on either side of this road, it could damage it.

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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