The Sunday Leader

Air Force Commander Lays Siege To A World Heritage Site

The bungalow which belongs to the SLAF commander

By Gazala Anver

Air Force Commander, Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonatilake, is illegally constructing a house in Sudugalla, in the protected Knuckles conservation forest area. Sajeewa Chamikara, Program Manager of the Sri Lanka Nature Forum said they are convinced the house indeed belongs to the Air Chief.

The Sunday Leader drew a blank when we contacted the SLAF Spokesperson, Group Captain Janaka Nanayakkara. He refused to confirm or deny the story.

However, a fellow officer and close associate of the Air Force Commander, requesting anonymity revealed that the Commander is in fact building a house in Sudugalla.

The house is a two storied structure, with eight bedrooms and attached baths and is fully tiled, according to Sajeewa Chamikara, who says it has been built on 12 perches of land in Knuckles.

Chamikara, having visited the site said it has been built as a holiday bungalow. “It is built just like a hotel, so it has to be his holiday bungalow,” he said.

“We are aware of illegal constructions in Sudugalla,” says the Divisional Secretary of the Laggala-Pallegama area, P.H.M.M. Premasinghe, member of the committee appointed under the National Environmental Act. He said that after investigations, they found out that the land is under the name of a man called Rohitha Silva and that the environmental authorities have already contacted him.

Rohitha Silva, according to Premasinghe, owns the land but not the building. Silva is yet to respond to a letter demanding that he demolish the newly built structure on the land as it is illegal. Land can be bought and privately owned around the Knuckles Conservation Forest,  Premasinghe said, but special permission has to be secured before any form of construction can take place. In this case, Premasinghe asserted such permission has not been sought or given.  Under these laws, any construction has to be first approved by the committee appointed under the National Environmental Act.

This however, the Sri Lanka Nature Forum claims, has not been done. Furthermore, such illegal constructions are rapidly leading to the extinction of a few rare endemic and endangered species, some of them found exclusively in this region.

Premasinghe meantime added that they had also heard that the house is in fact owned by the Air Force Commander, but they don’t have proof yet. Central Environmental Authority Chairman, Charitha Herath, also said that Rohitha Silva has been contacted by the authorities but that he does not know if Roshan Goonetilaka is involved. Despite countless attempts to get through to the Air Force Commander, a male who answered Goonetilaka’s mobile telephone reiterated, “he does not want to talk to you.”

Knuckles was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has also been declared as a conservation forest in 2007 and as an environmental protection area in 2008. The area is under protection of the National Environmental Act as well as the Soil Protection Act.

The other law-breakers

Names of other people, who also illegally constructed in the Knuckles Conservation Forest area, have been revealed by the Sri Lanka Nature Forum.

Among those is that of a foreign researcher called Dr. Ditas for building in Giriswatte, Hafnin Musaji in Riwastan, the owner of Kottegoda Batik in Pathana and Upul Halangoda in Cobert’s gap.

The Central Environmental Authority meanwhile has been taking steps to stop these constructions.

Chairman, Charitha Herath said that they have a directive, which includes sending a warning letter to the offender and informing the police about this development.

They are currently also observing the situation from their Kandy office and if their directives don’t work out, they would take the matter to court.

He said that his inspecting teams are working on finding the owners and bringing this situation to a close. However, apart from Rohitha Silva, they have not been able to name any of the other owners up to date.

42 Comments for “Air Force Commander Lays Siege To A World Heritage Site”

  1. Soorya

    Where the hell has this officer so much money to build such a luxury bungalow? It is absolutely not from his salary, he must have having some other illegal resources!

    • R.rajaguru

      while the hapless street vendors have their tiny structures torn down by powerful forces, the air commander is allowed to build on a world heritage site, unabated. What a travesty of Justice?It is time the President intervened to put a halt to these acts, which are becoming the order of the day, as in the past!

  2. Gayan Samarasinghe

    People in this area say that goods and food items were delivered to this location from SLAF helicopters (air dropped).

    • James

      oh really now? that explains how the pilots improved their sortie drop aims during the war.. haha get real will ya

  3. sira

    He acts like he is Mr clean, very religious, down to earht eating humble pie, but he himself is the most unqualifed Airforce Comander in the history, come through the back door and everything fell on his Lap till he beceme the commander.

    Next step is he will let his son join Sri lanka and chek out the entry requirements, Boy doesnt have A/L so Cadets will not be asked for A/L when he applies… shame shame shame Roshan….. we also heard you were the first to go and see the free block of land when the lands were giiven for the three forces commanders after the War….. thutuu deke porawall…..

    • Roshan’s father DIRTY HARRY, who was the then airforce chief, twisted the minimum requiremnts so that this fellow could join the air force.
      That in itself tells the story and callibre of the chief that we now have..
      I am not at all surprised of these greedy and unethical practices by these unethical/immoral imbeciles.
      Shame on the air force, shame on the head of defence , shame to the countryh and all its leaders….Mr Prsident, I guess you will ONCE AGAIN be very silent you don’t want anyone to talk too much huh..lest they divulge too mush no…

  4. This house must have cost him at least Rs 100 million to build, where in the earth that money came from. Arm deals? Did he get the free labour, timber, cement all supplied by the air force (ie, Sri Lankan people)? Then as an airman, especially chief of defence staff, he must respect the Kncukles. It is our most prisitine natural vegetation, it is not a place for him to party, it belongs to future generations of this country. Pulll down the structures today Charitha pull them down. You have the power to pull them down and teach the bastards a lesson. I heard Jeevan Kumarathunga has built a hotel in Habarana, Nivad Cabral in Somawathiya and Mithripala Sirisena in Minneriya. all these are national parks. Pull them down Charitha (with Premasinghe) pull them down

  5. This house must have cost him at least Rs 100 million to build, where in the earth that money came from. Arm deals? Did he get the free labour, timber, cement all supplied by the air force (ie, Sri Lankan people)? Then as an airman, especially chief of defence staff, he must respect the Kncukles. It is our most prisitine natural vegetation, it is not a place for him to party, it belongs to future generations of this country. Pulll down the structures today Charitha pull them down. You have the power to pull them down and teach them a lesson.

  6. D'Shan

    Of course, this is his share from the famous MIG – deal.. just imagine how much the main man got as his share………..?

    ‘Miracle Of Asia’

  7. Peter

    So Srilankans! these are signs that ‘it is a matter of time before your fortunes begin to turn in your favour’. So good luck to you all and ‘Subha Anagathayak!’.

  8. Beauty

    Only the high and mighty have to be taken to court to demolish unauthorized structures built by them, the peasants in Colombo don’t. What comedians our public officials are who live off the fat of the tax payers. A shameless breed of parasites.

  9. Zubin

    We Sri Lankans are a nation of sheep, voting time and again for the criminal politicians who kick us in the teeth. And a nation of sheep is eventually governed by wolves.

  10. KGB

    Court martial this villain.

  11. KGB

    Sorry. Mahjara won’t cos this one licks bums.

  12. I know he fought against the Tigers well, he got the most beautiful wife, but I cannot approve this. He must lead by example.

  13. izzy

    As is customary our King is silent on all matters……whether it be Mervin, Weerwansa or for that matter any of his goons!!

  14. dagobert

    Gota need to act………….
    Not only the urban development but the Island development too must come under him.

    Roshan.G, from where or whyo gave you the money?????

    Disgraceful…………..Remember, the more important you become the more humble you have to be.
    What makes you think such a holiday home will get yoiu favours from GOD or take you to heaven.

    How you come out I do not know.

  15. D'Shan

    Of course the king has to be silence.. because all these happened with his knowledge & approval….

    MIG-deal – Main role his borther
    UN Drama – Main actor Late buruwansa, Scripted by the notoroius King
    Attack TV stations – Actors are His bother, Pimp Thug, The Queen ( to protect the King & crown prince from Sangeetha)
    Sri Lankan Justice – Main role Pimp Thug

  16. Velu

    He spent his whole life on be half of SLAF (means country), and gave his highest contribution to eradicate terrorism from our land, and to attain peace and prosperity. Let him have few hectares there, not few parches – because he is a real nature lover. He will never harm such vegetation there but will surely improve. Don’t worry my dear brave pilot on the comments made by ….. ….., you are deserving more than a land from our motherland – a patriotic citizen.

    • san

      Then what about all other commanders, majors, defence secretary, MPs, Ministers, PM, President etc etc. All will have acres in these preserved areas.

  17. Are you also planning to grow Cardamoms there, like many of the Colombo 7 elite do?

    Roshan, please do the right thing, demolish the house. If not, the future generation will curse you. How dare can you stay there; it is a World Heritage Site. Think about the wildlife, Knuckles is the place for the wildlife to live, not you and your family.

  18. Dear Prabath Rochana, the house may worth Rs 100 million but Roshan got it everything free from the defence force – he is the number 1. Airforce spent for everythings – labour, cement, timber, asbesto, glass.etc. How lucky this guy is!

    Poor Sarath Fonseka is lamenting in a jail for not committing any crime, but highlighting corruption

    We have idiots like Palipana of Canada who say Yes to everything to what these corrupt people do

    Then now Gota asks us to hang a portrait of KP in our house and put a garaland around him. What for – because he was responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Sri Lankans

    Ane Kale Wane Wase

  19. Muansinghe

    Lot of Commanders have made houses [ have you seen them?]that perhaps they inherited the money from parents or as dowry from the in laws. One ran a quarry. Only Fonseka whose son in law did bussiness for Rs 25 Million with lot of others is now taken to courts. I wonder what profit they made from the sale of Binos at cost of what it is on sale at US or what price teh NATO purchased. I suppose they should be made Ambassodors in the future. What of the Army and Navy Comds. Have we checked their assessts?. This is bull shit. Now Sakviti is caught, he has to only say he gave that Rs 1 Billion to SF for Presidentail campaign. Perhaps he will be appointed Governor of North.

  20. paul

    Minister Musthafa will surely have to break his back again to remove this culprit from the Knucles or he can use his own knuckles.

  21. M.H.Sheriff

    So the the 40yr experienced politician was elected to look the otherside. this is the Suba Angathayak for cohorts.

  22. Dear Sir

    If you are an officer and a gentleman please handover the house to the Wildlife Dept so that they can have an office there to manage the Knuckles from human inhabitants. Please give the house to the Government, this is World Heritage. It’s like building a house in the middle of Yala, Wilpathu or Sinharaja. please think about the future generation and please help our country.

  23. anton silva

    so all military officers are supposed to be paupers, and have no funds of their own. So dirty Harry, an Roshan have both harmed the sentiments of this ultra rightous and patriotic community by giving their beloved sons to defend the nation. Sad some may have forgotten that Shirantha, Harry,s second son and Roshan younger brother too was a brave pilot, lost in action shot down over Palaly.
    There are enough institutions to hang Roshan if he has wrongd the envioranment or the Nation, let them do their due. Dear SUNDAY LEADER Charachter Assasination of a man of this type is a sin. You paint a picture of wounded hair and let the Jackalls do the jumping “good strategy” and unbiased journalism
    None has the right to criticise the Mig27 as none will know the role played by those great mechines.

  24. Mango tree

    I am tring to extrapolate this facts with Rajapaksha’s illegal accumulations..The welknown mafia transfered huge amount of money to Singapore few days before presidential election. With that money the notorious mafia family can buy even a five star hotels in Singapore. Only small fish like Airforce commenders get caught and big fish yet to get exposed. WE MADE A BLUNDER BY ELECTING TSUNAMI FRAUDSTER AND FACE THE CONSEQUENCES

  25. Maha Eka is drunk and sleeping he will never correct the wrongs, i don’t know about Ghota.

    Pull down the bungalow Charith (charitha herath – CEA chairman) pull it down, in the name of future generation pull it down (demolish it)

  26. BDS

    Like father; likeson! Remember the Puma helicopter deal signed at Hotel GeorgeVi in Paris! How many Air Force officers accompanying father Air Chief witness hat sordid deal.
    The consolation is we made up with Argentine after that after the notorious Falkland Vote in UNGA!
    Great family traditin! Congrats! Keep it up. Can go places more!

  27. Psycho

    So what he deserves it.

  28. Suwimal

    Is Roshan Gunathilake above or below the law? Only his supreme commander who is above the law by law itself, can decide. If he decides Roshan is above law there is nothing anyone can do except to fast, picket etc. Even UNO or Unesco can not do anything because it would amount to mediating in our internal affires (Ask Wimal or Mervyn if you don’t know)

    • Before he goes to the supreme commander, the commander on the land and glory must take action..The mere fact that he just avoids these matters confirms his involvement in these matters,,directly or otherwise.
      I guess these are the ‘small’ incentives so that all keep quiet about the makers of the big incentives…Guess Who???

  29. It’s not Mervin Silva that must be sacked but corrupt people like this. Mervin tried to do something good for the country in his own way

  30. Brian Vittachi

    With the resources at its disposal it should not take long for the government to uncover the truth. If they have an iota of credibility they will investigate. People, you have a right to demand that the men and women in high office uphold the laws of the land they have sworn to protect and serve.

  31. Johan h l Perera

    Sinhalese race are ungrateful dogs.
    This is one great leader who is honest officer and gentlemen 99% of the officer’s of the three forces will agree with this statement.

    1% that do not were corrupt and bitter people who either were demoted or so bitter who trying to sling mud on this great man’s reputation.

    Stop this type reporting.

  32. Brian Vittachi

    Johan, do you mean there should be one law for war heroes and one for the rest of us? Does he get to flaunt the rules because of his position? are you condoning double standards? The rule of law is sacrosanct and people who hold high office are supposed to be exemplary in their conduct of their professional as well as personnel lives.

  33. Prabhath Manathunge

    This is not only what he has done using his unlimited powers. You know that he has removed the ‘Buddha’s Statue’ of SLAF headquarters since he is an extremist. Also he changed the government circular to take his son to Air Force who has got ’3 F’ passes and now get a training for flying. Usually to become an officer cadet the candidate should have good passes in A/L s and Physics is a compulsory subject for pilots. But all these requirements are valied for the local and see how this ‘Idi Amin’ missuse publics’ properties for his family’s wealth. very often he postpone huge functions just before the date, because of his private affairs without a little consideration of the huge wastage of time and money, for instance, these days he is celibrating his son’s B’Day at China Bay camp postponing Annual Inspection Of Commander at Ekala. I think the president Mr Mahinda Rajapakse should take an immediate action against him.

  34. Adrian

    Whatever said and done, one must understand the importance of nature, especially of a place as important as Knuckles, its a biological hotspot and home to many diverse and endangered species. Winning a war is one thing, ruining on a pristine forest is another.
    No one can justify this action by saying its just a piece of land! This is no ordinary piece of land, and having already harmed the environment without considering the environmental impact the construction would give, is a grave error. If one wants land, it should be done by thinking about all other life forms that exist, earth is not only ours. Already Wilpattu and other forests are being harmed in unimaginable ways. Its high time things like these were stopped and punishment meted out.

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