A part of the Colombo Swimming Club was bulldozed today for the expansion of the Marine Drive.
Tony de Livera, President of the Colombo Swimming Club said in a statement “It is with great sadness that I bring to your notice that the Road Development Authority (RDA), armed with a court order, has forcibly taken over possession of part of the Colombo Swimming Club land, including the pool area.
We were entirely surprised by this turn of events which unfolded early this afternoon, as we had been in communication with both the Ministry of Land and the Ministry of Highways regarding divestiture of this land. In fact we have received two letters from the Ministry of Land dated 29th March 2017 and 6th June 2017, that our request was being considered, and that they were awaiting details re compensation offered etc before proceeding to evaluating our request. We have not received any communication from either the Ministry of Land or Ministry of Highways informing us that our request had been rejected.
No matter all our explanations and production of documents in our possession, the RDA insisted on executing the court order, without even giving us any time whatsoever to make alternate arrangements or appeal to higher authorities.
In the meantime it is now clear the RDA has gone to court and obtained a court order by suppressing facts. We were not given prior notice of the court action and therefore were never in a position to present full facts before the courts. We also observed from the court order produced by the RDA to us today, that the order was issued on 7th July 2017, but it is clear that they suppressed it from us until today and chose to come after 12 noon on a Friday, to prevent us having any ability to go to court to seek relief.
Needless to say we are both sad and angry at the way the RDA has handled this matter. We are considering all options and are in discussions with our lawyers regarding this matter.”
Meanwhile RDA Chairman N. R. Suriyarachchi told reporters, requests by the Colombo Swimming Club to extend the date of acquisition had been entertained twice.
“When we realise that they are not cooperating, we have to take legal action. There was no other issue. We have worked with the American Embassy and they have even accepted our compensation. The club officials may accuse us of planning it in such a way that it fell on a Friday. But nothing of the sort happened. We just did this on a day that was convenient to all departments,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily FT.
He also claimed that it is hard to believe that the club was unaware of the court case that was heard on the matter.
“The court always issues notice; they didn’t come for the hearing. I think they were trying to change the plan through different avenues,” Suriarachchi said, adding that the design plans for all roads in the area including the Marine Drive and the Elevated Highway connections and the tunnels for Port City connections have all been finalised. (Colombo Gazette)