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UDA owned land in Thalawathugoda; UDA Minister Prasanna Ranatunga under the spotlight for forceful occupation of reserved land

Image- A container office of Ranatunga  has been placed on state land

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga is accused of filling up a canal reserve at the end of Perera Mawatha in Thalawathugoda which was previously used by residents as a garbage dumping ground

The company that sold this land designated this reserved part for the protection of the canal at the time of the sale

In this regard the Director-General of the Urban Development Authority has taken legal action under case number 6136/17 in the Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court

For a long time, accusations have been made against Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, alleging that he forcibly acquired a plot of state-owned land in the Thalawathugoda area and also conducted reclamation and development activities there. The Minister’s daughter resides in a house on a land adjacent to Perera Mawatha in Thalawathugoda where the Minister’s house is located. There is no access to that house directly from Perera Mawatha; hence one must use the road close by to the Thalawathugoda tank to reach it. A protected canal separates the Minister’s daughter’s land from the Minister’s land at the end of that road. It is alleged that Minister Ranatunga is attempting to fill the canal, construct a road to connect the two houses and provide access to both properties from the aforementioned roads.

The person who has complained against these activities is Ranjeewi De Silva, who resides at house No. 700/107, Perera Mawatha, Thalawathugoda. The portion of the canal reserve at the end of Perera Mawatha in Thalawathugoda was previously used by residents of the area as a dumping ground for garbage. De Silva stated that she cleared the garbage and planted grass and Kumbuk plants to enhance the environment. However, at present Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has forcibly taken over this area and established his office by placing an office container at the location and occupying the relevant land. The company that sold this land designated this reserved part for the protection of the canal at the time of the sale. A small gate was also installed to provide access to this reserved part; enabling the clearing of blockages in the waste disposal drain if a need arose. However, De Silva claimed that Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has blocked this gate. With the gate blocked, if the canal becomes suddenly obstructed with garbage, it would now be unthinkable to clean it. She added that this situation has arisen due to Minister Ranatunga’s forceful occupation of the reserved land.

Additionally, the minister has constructed his office in a manner that obstructs the drain through which rain water coming from the road flows. She mentioned that the minister has taken steps to prevent the erosion of his land by erecting a stone retaining wall on the reserve border of the canal. When the land at the end of Perera Mawatha was auctioned, a proper drainage system was installed, but this was not on a private property. During the division of the land, a drainage system was designated through the reserved portion to manage water and waste disposal. She added that these drains were not placed in anyone’s private property.

In this regard, Sampath Sumedha Pujitha Ratnayake, Director-General of the Urban Development Authority, took legal action under case number 6136/17 in the Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court. This action pertains to plots 8, 9, and 10 of the tracing CD/DSD/2016/ dated 17.06.2016, located in Thalawathugoda in the Hewagam Korala sub-division of the Kaduwela Divisional Secretariat Division, Colombo District, Western Province certified by K. R. Sarath, Senior Superintendent of Surveys of the Colombo District, in place of the Surveyor. According to the judgment of that case, as per the form “B” of the State Lands (Recovery Of Possession) Act No. 7 of 1979, amended by Acts No. 58 of 1981 and No. 29 of 1983, requests have been made for the eviction of the land in question, which is used by the minister. This occurred on August 16, 2017. However, despite the decision, De Silva stated that the minister has not vacated the land.
State-owned lands in Thalawathugoda have been identified in Field Book No. CO. 7519 and CO. 7666, under tracing No. CO/DSD/2016/411 of the Survey Department of Sri Lanka. It is revealed that Minister Ranatunga, a resident of Perera Mawatha, Thalawathugoda, is occupying without authorisation 0.09 perches, 0.85 perches, and 7.13 perches of government lands known as Dah Atalaga and Dolos Kumbura, originating from Plot 21 of the primary plan Co. 5516, as specified in Plot No. 8, 9, and 10.
Notice issued to vacate land
The judgment of the aforementioned case instructed the minister to vacate the relevant reserve promptly. De Silva mentioned that the Urban Development Authority had erected signboards indicating the state ownership of the land; however, Minister Ranatunga had removed and burned these boards, according to De Silva. She further noted, that despite lodging a complaint with the Thalangama Police, legal enforcement has yet to be executed. The deed of my house, drafted in 2013, explicitly delineates a government reserve along one boundary of her property.

Additionally, she underscored that the main plan prepared in 1982, clearly designates the area utilised by Minister Prasanna as part of the government reserve.
According to De Silva, those lands have now been forcibly seized by Minister Ranatunga. She also asserted that the minister has unlawfully acquired a plot measuring 23.8 perches, upon which his house is constructed. Furthermore, she mentioned that the reserved portion, originally 7 perches in size, has expanded to approximately 11 perches due to continuous filling.

The entire land on Perera Mawatha was owned by a person named Bertie Perera in the past. Although the land that the minister is currently utilising belongs to the reserved part, Bertie Perera had been granted permission by the Urban Development Authority to build a chicken coop there, subject to specified conditions. De Silva added that, “the minister has obtained a deed to the land, despite clear stipulations in the law prohibiting any other development work on the land, designated solely for a chicken coop for Bertie Perera”.

Minister Rantunga has acquired the government reserve land on a lease basis in the name of his wife. De Silva stated that the Urban Development Authority arranged for the Minister to use the land, despite being instructed to vacate it following court action. In letter No 01/01, sent by N.P.K. Ranaweera, Director-General of the Urban Development Authority, to De Silva on August 15, 2022, it is stated:”Based on a request made by Maureen Stella Ranatunga, a resident of No. 700/17, Perera Mawatha, Thalawathugoda, to the Urban Development Authority, a plot of land measuring 6.22 perches was leased to her for 30 years, subject to the approval of the then Minister of Urban Development and Housing, and in accordance with the provisions of the Urban Development Authority.”The letter specifies that the property is leased to her under the condition that there is a prohibition of erecting any permanent building on the land. However the letter states that, instead, the property can be used for landscaping and cultivation purposes. It also states that the Urban Development Authority does not oppose the request to use a container box, which is not a permanent building, for necessary purposes. Furthermore, it is noted in the investigation that only Minister Ranatunga has been sued regarding a land owned by Maureen Stella Ranatunga. Additionally, the letter mentions that Prasanna Ranatunga agreed to return the aforementioned lands he possesses after settling the boundary issues connected with these respective lands.

Legally, there is typically no authorisation to reclaim land by building a structure across a canal. If an ordinary resident were to undertake such an action, the Department of Lowlands and the Urban Development Authority would initiate legal proceedings to evict them and return the land to the government. However, De Silva added that the silence of government institutions when the minister in charge of those subjects commits such an offense is regrettable. Additionally, the Urban Development Authority leased this land to Maureen Stella Ranatunga, in violation of Extraordinary Gazette 185/6 issued on Tuesday, March 23, 1982, which stipulates that no government reserve land in Thalawathugoda can be leased. The law in this country operates differently for Minister Ranatunga when he is compared to the ordinary citizens; largely due to the influence he wields as a minister. Despite De Silva exposing these happenings through the media for years, no legal action has been taken against the minister. However, she said that she has already initiated legal proceedings against the minister and the government officials who supported this offence.

“Accusations were found to be baseless”- Balasuriya

Commenting on this issue, Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation Chairman Hiran Balasuriya stated, “The land located near a canal in Thalawathugoda, Battaramulla is an area that is continuously experiencing soil erosion. This was confirmed during our observations. Accordingly, the wife of Minister Prasanna Ranatunga informed the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation on June 14, 2023, that the banks of the Urban Development Authority land she has leased are eroding. Consequently, we informed Prasanna’s wife that since the land was acquired on a lease basis, measures cannot be taken to prevent soil erosion under government provisions unless payment is made. She agreed to this arrangement. The estimated cost was around 1.2 million rupees. She had paid nearly 0.5 million rupees, and accordingly, the corporation worked to build a side wall to prevent soil erosion.

“According to the powers vested in the Land Development Corporation, there is no obstacle to the construction of such a side wall. The construction is carried out subject to the conditions outlined by the Urban Development Authority when the land was transferred to the minister’s wife on a lease basis,” said Balasuriya.

The other accusation against Minister Ranatunga is that another piece of land adjacent to his daughter’s house is being reclaimed. In response to this, Balasuriya stated that measures have been taken to prevent bank erosion at the relevant location. The chairman clarified that the land being developed bordering the minister’s daughter’s house belongs to his corporation, and his corporation is implementing a development project to prevent the banks of the Battaramulla and Thalawathugoda canals from eroding. He emphasised that this project commenced in the canal areas a few months ago and is aimed at preventing bank erosion in the reserve canal, bordering the house of the minister’s daughter. Another allegation made by the concerned woman against the minister is that he has blocked the water drains where water flowing from the road goes through. However, Balasuriya stated that the accusations were found to be baseless upon their observation.


UDA DG admits leasing state land to Mininster’s wife 

N.P.K. Ranaweera, Director General of the Urban Development Authority, commented on this matter, stating, “We have legally allocated a piece of land belonging to the Urban Development Authority in Thalawathugoda Perera Mawatha to the applicant who applied in the name of Maureen Stella Ranatunga. The land has been leased for 30 years after undergoing a proper assessment by the Government Valuation Department and making the necessary payments. There’s a misunderstanding that the minister was given priority in the allocation of this land. This is incorrect. If there is a piece of land behind the area where I reside, and if it is not accessible to anyone and is beneficial to me, I would request that piece of land from the Urban Development Authority. If feasible, the land would be allocated. Similarly, land belonging to the Urban Development Authority has been leased to many individuals around Battaramulla”.


“This allegation is baseless and malicious”-Minister Ranatunga 

Commenting on this issue, Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said, “I completely deny the accusations that my house on Perera Mawatha, Thalawathugoda, is an unauthorised construction and that an adjoining state-owned land is being illegally filled using my authority. I’ve already taken legal action against those who make these accusations. Ranjeewi De Silva has continuously alleged that the house owned by Prasanna Ranatunga’s wife on Perera Mawatha in Thalawathugoda is an unauthorised construction and that the minister is using his authority to fill up an Urban Development Authority land adjacent to that house, as well as that a canal reserve is being filled up adjacent to a house owned by the minister’s daughter. This allegation is baseless and malicious. My wife purchased the 25.8 perches of land on Perera Mawatha, where I currently reside, in 2004 from Bertie Perera. This transaction is confirmed by Deed No. 2813. Additionally, it is confirmed by Folio No. 1470/206 registered by the Homagama Land Registrar. Prior to my wife’s acquisition of this land, the original owner, Bertie Perera, obtained approval on 16.10.2003 to develop the land. Approval from the Land Development Corporation, Urban Development Authority, and Department of Agrarian Services was granted to Bertie Perera for this purpose, as evidenced by the relevant documents. It is important to note that during the period 2003-2004, there was a United National Party Government in Sri Lanka. Any suggestion that the approval for the development of this land was obtained through political influence is therefore denied.

No court decision has been issued to me or my wife to vacate the land that rightfully belongs to us” MINISTER RANATUNGA

“The approval to build a house on the land purchased by my wife was obtained on July 10th, 2014. The Kaduwela Municipal Council approved this building plan. However, a woman named Ranjeewi de Silva alleges that there is a court order for the minister to vacate this land. Case number 06/36/17/1715E was assigned by the Yahapalana Government at Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court. I had been accused of misusing plots No. 08, 09, 10 adjacent to the land where I reside; belonging to the preliminary map Co. 5516. However, during the hearing, the Director of Land Development and Management of the Urban Development Authority informed the court that the Authority has built a security fence to enclose the land portion specified as Lot No. 10 and has installed two signboards indicating that the land is owned and protected by the authority. Accordingly, it has been stated in the letter dated November 30, 2017, that no unauthorised seizure has taken place in Lot No. 10. However, during the relevant hearing, it was confirmed that 0.94 perches of land indicated as plot No. 08 and 09 have been included in the land claimed by my wife. Additionally, it was stated that a perch from the land belonging to my wife was included in plot number 10, which was fenced by the Urban Development Authority. This was confirmed during the measurements made according to the court order. Accordingly, the portion of 0.94 perches that had included in my wife’s land was taken over by the Urban Development Authority, and the perch of my wife’s land, which was included in the land of the Urban Development Authority, was released by the authority. Consequently, the Urban Development Authority settled the case and withdrew the related case on April 23, 2018, during the period of the Yahapalana Government. No court decision has been issued to me or my wife to vacate the land that rightfully belongs to us. The 6.22 perches of land belonging to the Urban Development Authority, adjacent to the house for which I am accused of forcibly enjoying, has been leased by my wife for 30 years after paying the government’s assessed amount of 5.2 million rupees to the Urban Development Authority on November 23, 2021. The Urban Development Authority and my wife have also signed a related agreement, agreeing to the relevant lease conditions. I deny Ranjeewi De Silva’s allegation that the land is being forcibly enjoyed”.

Daily Mirror


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