Yahapalanaya ministers John Amaratunga and Champika Ranawaka have come under flak over the destruction of the walking path in Wattala, as residents took to the streets on Monday demanding justice and for the restoration of the walking path to its original condition.
Residents who were engaged in protest alleged that Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga was involved in the act, while Amaratunga passed the buck on Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Champika Ranawaka saying it was carried out by his ministry, an allegation flatly rejected by the Megapolis Minister who said that the particular walking path did not come under his ministerial purview, and so his ministry was not involved in it.
However, in another instance Amaratunga unofficially took responsibility for the destruction when he reportedly told the Sirasa news channel that the walking path which was destroyed will be converted into a road.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation Asela Iddawela who visited the site said that no one was given approval to carry out any development work in the area, nor was approval given to demolish the walking path. “We assure the residents that we will restore the walking path to a much better standard than what it used to be,” he said.
Following his assurance, Iddawela also visited the OIC of the Wattala Police where the matter was discussed further. Speaking to the media following his meeting with the area OIC, Iddawela said that the backhoe used to demolish the walking path is in police custody, and the driver of the backhoe as well as the contractor had been identified, and action will be taken against them.
However residents noted that even though it was obvious that a senior minister was involved in the act, the residents highlighted that action will not be taken against him, as he is in the government, and instead action will only be taken against the innocent driver and the contractor, who carried out the task under the minister’s authorization.