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Land excavation racket being carried

out in Minuwangoda - Underworld and


politicians behind In

Mar 15, 2017

The lands excavation racket being scandal in Minwangoda


has become a much talked about topic in the recent few
weeks. Recently, Deputy Minister RanjanRamanayake and
MP Indika Anuruddha also clashed on the erath removing
in Divulapitiya. However it has become clear that the
racket is still going on. President MaithripalaSirisena had
last year ordered the termination of all illegal earth
removal in the area. But so far it has not been stopped.
Due to the earth removing that is being carried out in a
massive scale, at present the Minuwangoda area has also
faced a terrible shortage of drinking water. Thus it has
become aparant that the President should intervene to
put an end to this environmental devastation once and for
all.

Although the earth removing trade has generated new


jobs, the problem lies with the environmental damage that
it has caused in aunprecedented level. we had some news
on this earlier , Since we were not able to obtain proper
information from the authorities who are involved in this
matter including the local police. Lanka News Web we,
recently visited Minuwangoda to find out the truth. During
our visit we were able to witness several earth removing
schemes still going on without any problem. According to
the residents in the area, the current dry weather
condition of the country coupled with the environmental
harm that has been caused by the earth removal has
caused a severe shortage of drinking water in the area.
According to our sources, plans have been made by these
racketeers to expand their earth removal business into
Kotugoda as well. Accordingly areas such as Udugampola,
Yagodamulla, Nedagamuwa, Pasgammana, Kotugoda,
Pathaduwana, UkgalgodaWeliya and Welhena that belong
to the Minuwangoda DS division have now been invaded
by these earth removal scams.

After our observations in the area, we queried officials


attached to the National Bureau of geology and Mining as
to the measures taken by the authorities to counter these
earth removal schemes. Responding to our queries, the
Director General further Mr. Sthjana said that an STF
group would be soon deployed to look into the matter.
Furthermore, the Director General directed us to an
official at the institute to obtain further information.
According to the Director General, the STF team was
scheduled to be sent on last Tuesday. But up until the end
of this article, the official at the national geology and
mining failed to provide us the information about their
investigations. When queried, he simply said that he had
not yet received a report from the STF. It has become
problematic as to the undue delay of these investigations
Furthermore, the officials who are at the Mining bureau
must be having some supervision over the area. During
our tour, residents in the area complained that No
government officials including the GS, Samurdhi,
Adgricultural, or other officers or a police officer have
visited the area to investigate the matter. Although the
Bureau has issued 3 licenses to the 119/2 GS division for
earth removal. They have become expired by February
2017. The authorities were unable to comment as to
whether these licenses have indeed been renewed. This
has thus become a testimony to the inefficiency of the
countrys administrative system.

However, when visited Yagodamulla recently, it was


revealed to us that the DS office has not issued any
recommendations to carry out earth removal for this year.
An official of the local council said that the license of the
last licensee who had obtained permission for earth
removal, has also been expired. Hence it has now become
clear that these racketeers are not in possession of any
legal document to carry out their schemes. Although
normally the public is allowed to remove earth for
domestic construction purposes, it is clear that this is not
that type of project.
On the day of our visit, the Divisional Secretary K.A.S.L.
Gunathilake had gone out for a meeting. When queried
from the Assistant Divisional Secretary, she said that they
have not been informed about illegal earth removal as the
Mining bureau is in charge of issuing licenses. However, it
was obvious that the government officials were reluctant
to give away all the information on the issue.
According to information received we visited an area near
the Yagodamulla Junction. There we were able to see
several trucks transporting soil out from the area via the
Sri Dhammaloka Mavatha. They came from Abayaraja
Mawatha, which is situated about 50 meters away from
the Yagodamulla junction. When we visited the premises,
the earth removal was still being carried out in broad
daylight. The area that has been cleared amounted to 2,3
acres near the Saddhatissa Pirivena road.
At the time we were there, there were persons and
machinery that are used to remove earth, even though
they did not engage in the act. But according to their
current rate of earth removal, soon the Mahena Cemetery
is also going to be invaded by these earth removers. Even
though the licenses expressedly require the licensees to
take steps to prevent any destruction to the environment
such as sprinkling water into the road that is used to
transport soil, none of these conditions were seemed to
have been honored by these license holders. We were also
able to witness another 50 perch plot of land being
cleared off for earth removal. However, it has been
temporarily halted due to strong objections of the
residents. There was another place in Koslanda that had
been subjected to this racket. Even the roads in these
areas are still under developed. Hence there is no doubt
as to the extent of damage these businesses have caused
to the environment.

Speaking to us on the matter, some residents said We


see a lot of trucks going here and there with soil. But we
do not know what happens to them. Some even said that
they do not want to get into trouble by talking about
these problems. Hence it was clear to us that the area has
been engulfed by fear of taking action against this racket.
Even a police officer said that pursuing this issue is going
to become troublesome. However, sources have revealed
to us about the involvement of several well-known
underworld gangs in the racket. Once these thugs had
pasted threatening posters to warn the residents not to
talk about the earth removing scandal. By looking at the
past data, it has become evident that over 48 lives have
already been lost due to criminal activities in the area
involving in the earth removal scandal. Well known thugs
such as Kalu Gamini, Lalinda, Sitha and Asitha are some of
these gangsters. At present some of them have even
created strong henchmen such as Nilantha and Pas Podda,
who have become famous for their brutality.
However, when we first inquired the matter from the
Police Media Unit, they were unable to provide us with any
information. Next we contacted the Officer in Charge of
Minuwangoda police station Mr. Rajapaksa. But he said
that it did not belong to his area of authority. But later we
came to know that it did came under the Minuwangoda
police division. When we visited the area the OIC was not
available and the Crime OIC Mr. Dissanayake said that his
area does not include the Mahena Cemetery but includes
the Abayaraja road. But he was unaware of the earth
removal that is being carried out in the area. He said that
he would receive instructions from the OIC and would
inspect the premises in the evening. He also said that the
level of crimes in the area have gone down recently and
said that there are no undue political influences to their
duties. But we clearly saw a traffic police officer stopping
a truck near Yagodamulla. Hence it has become
problematic as to the lack of awareness of these police
officers on these issues.

However, we do not want anyone to lose their job over


this matter. But we would like to point out the necessity of
ensuring the peace and proper environment for the people
in the area. It comes under the direct responsibilities of
the Yahapalana government.
Even though the Minuwangoda Police OIC had said that
the area in question does not come under his jurisdiction
it has become clear that these areas were within 7 km
from the Minuwangoda police station. If a police officer
refuses to take action based on the area of authority,
preventing these problems are going to become a hard
task, Hence the time has come for these officers to
actively participate in the law enforcement process by
informing the superior officers on these issues.

We also visited the GS officer of the Minuwangoda 119/2


GS division A.A. Nishanthi at her office at Sri Saddhatissa
Road to discuss the matter. But she was not available at
the office at that time. When contacted via telephone, she
said that she could not comment on the matter and asked
us to contact the Divisional Secretariat. Hence it has
become problematic as to how these government officials
execute their duties.

Political Thoughts on this matter

Expressing his views on the matter, MP Prasanna


Ranathunga says During our government we were able to
draw the attention of the President to get these illegal
activities stopped. Even then there were some activities
going on in secret. But after January 08 2015, these
racketeers have once again started to operate in public.
At the local development committee meeting its chairman
Edward Gunasekera said that this has to stop as it is
causing the breach of public peace as well as
environmental damage. We have already urged the
President to take action to stop this issue. But so far
nothing has happened. The government officials are
working in fear of underworld gangsters. So these earth
removal scams are going on under government
sponsorship. That is why the authorities cannot stop this.
Commenting on the issue, the Minuwangoda SLFP
organizer RuwanRanathunga said Last week we had to
distribute water into 83 GS divisions in Minuwangoda.
With the drought conditions this earth removal has caused
a major shortage of water. We have informed the
authorities over this issue. This issue has now claimed
several lives. Most of the times these racketeers are able
to secure licenses from the government with the help of
undue influences. So we are only left with contacting the
police. Some even think that we too are accepting bribes
from these racketeers. I do not have any connections with
the underworld. But there were certain local council
members who openly supported these scandals. We do not
approve Minister RanjanRamanayakas conduct at
Divulapitiya. But he told the truth. As we see it there is a
lack of involvement from senior government officers.
Furthermore, the loopholes in law have made it easy for
these culprits to operate freely.

We then contacted two politicians who were subjected to


media limelight recently. Expressing his views on the
matter, Deputy Minister RanjanRamanayake said At
present the scandal at Divulapitiya has been stopped by
the Mining Bureau, the CEA and the Divisional Secretariat.
I do not know well about the earth removal in
Yagodamulla. Some people have even accused me of being
involved in these rackets. But we were the ones who
objected the transporting of soil from Akaragama to
Muthurajawela to reclaim land. I have obtained the details
about MP IndikaAnuruddha via RIT. His family members
are also involved in this racket. Due to this issue, MP
Indika even tried to kill me. I have lodged a complaint at
the Police on the matter. But no matter how much they try
to sling mud at me, people know who I am.

In reply, MP IndikaAnuruddha said Our past generations


have been carrying out this trade for many years. We have
factories that produce tiles and bricks. I have not aided
any illegal activity. It is Minister Ramanayaka who is
aiding the culprits. My Uncle D.W.L. Appuhami has become
angry with me after I had refused to give him soil
consignments. Then he has joined hands with Ranjan.
Accordingly Ranjan has even sent a letter to the District
Secretary asking him to extend the license of an earth
removing quarry that is being maintained by Appuhami. I
challenge him to show his innocence.

However, the problem of illegal earth removal is going on


without a solution. It has now come to a hazardous stage.
Thus it it now up to the President of the country to put an
end to this madness. Do you have any kind of tips for
corruptions, Write to us zoozina3@gmail.com We can assure
you, will protect your details.

By AshWaru in Minuwangoda
Posted by Thavam