Governor passes verdict on the market
[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 January 1999, 22:18 GMT]
(News Feature) Hopes that the impasse over the opening of the new Trincomalee market might be resolved by the recently appointed North-eastern Province Governor, Maj.Gen..Asoka Jayawardana, were dashed today. The market was built by the Trincomalee Urban Council (UC). The project ran into problems when it was obstructed by senior Army officials and other Sri Lanka Government servants.
The councillors had hoped that the new Governor, appointed by the President, would be able to use his authority to get the market opened.
However a stern letter sent by the Governor to the chairman of the Urban Council today has disappointed members of the council.
One member of the council said that the Governor appeared to have fallen in line with the ethnically biased thinking of Sinhalese Government servants in Trincomalee.
"The new governor said when he assumed office that he would study the new market issue impartially and act according to the law, but now it is apparent that he also has fallen in line with the hard-line Sinhala government officials in Trincomalee who are engaged in an subtle ethnic cleansing of our town with the assistance of the SLA" said the UC member.
The letter posted by the Governor's office on January 7 was received by the Trincomalee Urban Council Chairman, Mr.Sooriyamoorthy, this morning.
The missive headed "Inquiry into the Complaints of Misappropriation and Abuse of Power" signed by the NE Governor says, inter alia:
It is found that you have committed the following offences.
1.1 Lands belonging to the UC have been allocated to private parties without my prior approval in contravention of section 36 (chapter 255) of the UC ordinance.
1.2 Unlawful allocation of state land at Maniyaveli to private parties.
2.1 Construction of a market at Keeraithottam in Trincomalee (town) in contravention of section 39 and 40 (chapter 255) of the UC ordinance.
2.2 violated financial regulations and treasury circulars in respect of tender procedures.
2.3 No proper planning was done in respect of the construction of the new market and the quality of the work carried out is very poor.
6.Construction of Kulakkottam Community Centre in contravention of section 39 and 40 of the UC ordinance sections 39 and 40 of the UC ordinance chapter 255.
6.4 Payment of a sum of rupees Rs. 21,542 and cents 55 was made to the Arunagiri Garmodhaya Mandalaya on your arbitrary decision.
The aforesaid offences committed by you have not only caused loss to the UC Trincomalee but they also tantamount to fraud.
I therefore intend taking action against you in terms of section 184 (1A) and (1B) of the UC ordinance Chapter 255. You are therefore hereby required to show cause on or before January 27, 1999, as to why action should not be taken against you..."
The Trincomalee Urban Council will meet on January 21 when the council members will discuss the letter and table a reply to the Governor, said one UC member.
Mr.Periyapody Sooriyamoorthy said this evening that he had lost faith in the governor.
Another member of the council said that the letter was clearly intended to destroy the new market and the Kulakkottam community centre. The two buildings would undermine the policy, being pursued by senior Sri Lankan Government officials, of removing the Tamil community from Trincomalee town, he said.
The Government officials also want to get rid of the Tamil dominated Trincomalee Urban Council as it has hindered their project, he added.
Many members said that government officials were trying to get rid of the urban council using arbitrary and questionable powers granted to the Governors of the provinces under the 13th amendment. They went on to say that the Governor, who is not elected, could not be held accountable for his actions by the ordinary people of Trincomalee.
In no other province is there the precedent of a Governor directly and assertively intervening in this manner into the affairs of an Urban Council, a senior Tamil official pointed out.
The new market foundation stone was laid by the Assistant Commissioner of Local Government for the Trincomalee district, the government official who determines all matters concerning the Urban Council. He found everything in order both in the case of the market and the Kulakkottam community centre, the official added.
The former NE governor visited the construction of the new market and expressed his satisfaction that things were in order, said another official.
Both buildings plans were approved by the UC and examined by its secretary who is a competent government servant whose duty it is to have everything in order for such projects, he said.
The Maniyaveli land issue also clearly brings out the motive behind the letter, said a councillor. Landless Tamils were granted some lots by the UC in this part of the town.
It was made an issue mainly because the area had been earmarked earlier by the Trincomalee GA and some Sinhala officials at the Kachcheri for Sinhalese settlement, the councillor said.
A UC councillor pointed out that the Governor had done nothing to prevent the Sinhalese settlements in the Love Lane and Uyarnthapaadu suburbs of the town, the councillor added.
The settlement, that was sponsored by the Sri Lankan Army, was on land owned by Tamils who had left the area during previous unrest but wanted to return.
"It appears that he wants to show that he has the correct attitude for dealing with the affairs of the Tamils Trincomalee." the councillor said.
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