Priest's manoeuvres provoke fury

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
In a hard-hitting public statement, Chelliyan Perinpanayakam, Mayor of Batticaloa, called for the removal of all sentry points and bunkers in the Batticaloa town if the environment was to remain clean, said sources.

The Mayor's statement was a reply to a complaint to the police made by Reverend Yattiyana Pangnaloka Thera, chief priest of the Mangalaramaya Buddhist temple in Batticaloa.

The chief priest, who is a member of the Manmunai Environmental Committee, a community organisation, complained that the environment in the Batticaloa municipal area was being subject to pollution.

Mayor Perinpanayakam and S. Navaneethan, Municipal Commissioner, Batticaloa, made separate statements to the police this morning stating the causes for environmental degradation in Batticaloa.

Meanwhile, the actual reason for Rev. Pangnaloka complaining against the Mayor was his refusal to grant permission for Municipal Council (MC) labourers to clean the temple s premises, said sources in Batticaloa.

The Mayor had said he was quite prepared to instruct the labourers to clean the public roads outside the temple, but not its interior.

The chief priest, angered by this had complained to the police, but not before cloaking the real reason, said sources.

In his statement to the police, the Mayor said that if the MC is to undertake the protection of the environment systematically, the security forces must leave the places they have occupied and move from the buildings they have taken over.

Due to the presence of the security forces, the Council cannot fulfill its commitments to the rate-payers, he said.

He said the military camps which blocked the drainage system had to be closed, and that the security forces, which occupied the MC buildings, in which the Council worked at optimum efficiency, should be asked to vacate the buildings.

He said the war had displaced village populations which now lived in congested houses in Batticaloa town as refugees. This led to the volume of waste being thrown on the roadside increasing.

The number of security forces personnel in the town was also expanding alarmingly, and this too contributed to an ever expanding volume of waste, he said.

The MC had to remove up to 30,000 kg of refuse in Batticaloa town daily he said.

The presence of military camps everywhere and the refuse from refugee and military camps, had led to garbage stagnating in the drainage system and clogging it, he said.

Furthermore, the present drainage system was ineffective due to the system having been neglected over the years he said, adding that funds for the rehabilitation of the system were also scarce.

Mr. Perinpanayakam's statement also noted that members of the Manmunai Environment Committee's function was to identify problems, resolve them and offer advice.

If the members tried to hold inquiries, apportion blame, or make complaints to the police, it was doubtful whether they could continue to serve as members, he said.

In consequence of the complaint by the chief priest, the Batticaloa mayor has decided that he and other senior officials of the MC will boycott the meetings of the Manmunai Environment Committee in the future.

Rev. Pangnaloka is known to have the support of the predominantly Sinhala police and Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and is interested in settling Sinhala populations in the east via more colonisation schemes, said sources.

 

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