The land filling issue of the first RTI appellant worsens despite all efforts

Rajendra Wijesinghe

The land demarcated for a retention pond is being filled

“Faggots, ……. your Moms!” the gang addressed us soon after the officers from the Special Investigation Unit of the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation & Development Corporation (SLLRDC) left the location in our neighborhood at Cyril Janz Mawatha, Panadura after putting up the notice to stop earth filling in the land of question.

As soon as the officials left, they started filling earth. We were barred by the Police, who inquired our complaints against the person who involved in earth filling two days back and thoroughly advised us not to disturb his activity. Further the relevant authorities turned deaf ear to our consistent plea for them to intervene.

The earth filling gang was armed with daggers. They were armed with swords. They were armed with clubs. They used our private gravel path to earth fill into the adjoining land. They were above the law. We experienced terror in our own neighborhood. We were inside premises due to fear for our lives. No breakfast was cooked. No lunch was prepared. They started from 6 am and the last truck load came at 7.18 pm. Thirty seven truckloads of soil were unloaded after the prohibitory notice was placed. That marked the second unsuccessful attempt by the special investigation unit of the SLLRDC to establish their order.

I became the first appellant to the Right To Information commission to obtain information that the Urban Council, Panadura had been hiding over this issue. Department of Government information prepared a video documentary over my efforts with RTI. (Continue reading after the video)

Key figures of public authorities in the area avoided to give voice cuts to government film unit. The earth filler, who was informed by the same authorities in advance placed a watcher armed with a knife to prevent them entering to shoot the location  

This story goes far back to 2012, when the earth filler made his initial attempt to fill this land. The most significant thing is that a part of the filling is within the demarcations of the proposed retention pond as per layout plans prepared by SLLRDC to mitigate the frequent rain water flooding in the area. We were panic since we had bitter experience over frequent flooding. We did not know where to complain. We rushed to the divisional office of agrarian development. We were driven out. That day mark the beginning of our struggle against the culprits, who were backed by even more corrupt public, political and law enforcement authorities.  

There onwards we have been struggling in search of justice. Divisional Coordinating Committee (DCC) – Panadura once took a decision to remove the unauthorized developments and to reinstate the land. But the Urban Council – Panadura and the Urban Development Authority did not adhere to the instructions of the DCC. The latter organization which is currently under the Ministry of Megapolice challenges us to go to courts despite our seeking justice from them.

Officers from the special investigation unit of the SLLRDC arrived at the location to stop the earth filling for the third time during last four days. How many days that the junior ranks of the respective authorities can hold this inappropriate developments in the terrain of this landscape when the senior administration to the line ministry is in favour for the undue activities? We are inundated not only by floods but by the threats to our lives from unruly elements, which are backed by even more corrupt political authorities, corrupt public authorities and corrupt law enforcement authorities. Justice we seek is about to be buried.

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