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Defence ministry orders flower and plant sellers to vacate the park

Thursday, 30 June 2011/ By Olindhi Jayasundere

The Defence Ministry has asked flower and plant exhibitors and sellers at the Vihara Maha Devi Park to vacate the area by tomorrow because of plans to beautify the City of Colombo.

 The Vihara Maha Devi Floral Exhibition Organisers Consortium which has a membership of 400 flower and plant sellers said they were requested by Colombo DIG Anura Senanayake and Colombo Municipality Special Commissioner Omar Kamil to move out of the Vihara Maha Devi premises on the orders of the Defence Ministry.

A few days ago Colombo Municipal Commissioner Badrani Jayawardene denied that flower exhibitors and sellers were being removed from the park saying there was no such decision to do so.  Consortium convener Chandana De Silva said exhibitors at the Vihara Mahadevi Park had been exhibiting and selling plants since 1987 and for many it was a livelihood. He appealed to the authorities to allow the exhibitors and sellers to continue their work at the Vihara Maha Devi Park or to give them an alternative location to do so.

“We have been informed that the government wants us to stop the plant exhibitions as it has plans to change the landscape of the park as part of a project to beautify Colombo. We find this strange as there is nothing more beautiful than flowers. We have appealed to the authorities several times but they keep insisting that we should move out,” Mr. De Silva said.  The flower exhibitors at Vihara Maha Devi Park pay Rs.108,330 to the Colombo Municipality for the area allocated to them at the park during three days of the week.
“If the Defence Ministry goes ahead with its decision to remove us then the plant exhibitions and the industry will die a natural death,” Mr. De Silva lamented.

He said it would also be an immense loss to a large number of people countrywide who visited the flower exhibitions at the Park each year. Mr. De Silva said the authorities had permitted the flower exhibitors to carry out their exhibitions at Sathutu Uyana for two months but said they needed a permanent place suitable for exhibitions


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