Central Province Governor Maithri Gunaratne, a close ally of President Maithripala Sirisena, has flouted environmental laws while reconstructing a house in the Kathaluwa area, in the Matara district.
Informed sources told Colombo Telegraph that Gunaratne has obtained permission from the Coastal Conservation Department (CCD) to renovate an old house located within 5 meters from the permanent vegetation line.
The government has strictly prohibited new constructions close to the permanent vegetation line as a protective measure. The CCD, an institution coming under the purview of President Sirisena, is entrusted with the task of enforcing the law and taking action against those violating it.
However, several photographs exclusively obtained by Colombo Telegraph show that the Central Province Governor is in fact reconstructing a house in violation of environmental laws governing the coastal line.
“There is a clear distinction between renovation and reconstruction. While there is no legal impediment to renovate an house, it is strictly illegal to carry out a reconstruction within five meters from the permanent vegetation line,” a source familiar with the matter told Colombo Telegraph, adding that the Governor has hoodwinked the environmental authorities when he obtained permission to ‘renovate’ an old house.
“It is up to the President, as the Environmental Minister, and the CCD to initiate action against the Central Province Governor who blatantly flouted environmental laws,” the source further added.