According to the amendment, unauthorized additions to an apartment complex can be made legal by way of the payment of a fine to be decided by a committee functioning under the Urban Development Authority.
A case in point is that a Rs. 22 million fine had been imposed on an unauthorized apartment complex at Wellawatte, and Gunawardena had made a written request to reduce it to Rs. seven million. Due to this reduction, the then director general of the UDA Prasanna Silva was arrested on bribery charges and remanded. During the investigation, the ex-DG had failed to produce the Gunawardena’s letter, which has now gone missing from the relevant file.
After the UDA was taken over by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, an investigation was carried out into unauthorized apartment complexes in Colombo city and it came to light Gunawardena had mediated at the request of a businessman by the name Ajith Gallage to reduce the fines imposed on many apartment owners. Gotabhaya sent a detailed file about this fraud to the then president. UDA’s western province director Prasanna Wijetunga too, had got involved in reducing the fine.
All these files are now unaccounted for, but in consideration of the complaints it has received and the information made available by the UDA, the CID has obtained statements from several of these apartment owners as well as from Gunawardena. However, he is now trying to disrupt the investigation through his school-time friends, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and minister Malik Samarawickrama. Furthermore, the joint opposition has discussed as to why Gunawardena did not get involved when the JO unleashed strong criticism against the PM. Certain JO MPs now jokingly ask Gunawardena about this matter.
Sanjaya Liyanage - Sathhanda