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One Law For Carlton Another For The Common Man

By Nirmala Kannangara

Uditha in front of her boutique waiting for justice Carlton Preschool stands tall at Maligawatte Housing Scheme and the First Lady’s fleet of limousines parked in front of the preschool

Residents at the Maligawatte Housing Scheme are up in arms against the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) for their double standards.
According to the residents, the NHDA laws are implemented only against the residents who are not UPFA supporters but pay special attention towards their loyalist. Accusing the NHDA for leasing out lands and one of the children’s park to the Carlton Preschool Colombo Branch owned by the First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, the residents queried as to why they are not allowed to carry out businesses on lands on lease within the housing scheme premises when the Carlton Preschool has been allowed to construct buildings without any restrictions.  “Is it because it is owned by the First Lady?” queried the angry residents. Uditha Ginanjali mother of a partially disabled girl who is running a makeshift boutique at the housing scheme asked why she was ordered to remove her boutique which is neither illegal nor is an obstruction to people.
“If the NHDA can lease out their lands for big time businesses why cannot they allow us to do our small business in leased out lands. This are double standards. Even one of the children’s park which was adjoining the Carlton Preschool was given to the school to expand their buildings. While the NHDA is helping out the bigwigs to expand their businesses, the underprivileged are harassed,” Uditha told The Sunday Leader.
Uditha said that the land on which her makeshift boutique is housed, was given as a compensation for her baby daughter a few years ago.
“This place was allocated to me on the directions of Minister A. H. M. Fowzie nine years ago to compensate for my daughter who became partly disabled as a result of an out dated injection administered on her. Since then I have being paying rental to this land but it came as a surprise when I was asked to remove this boutique without any valid reason. It is this same government that has to take responsibility for my daughter’s current physical state but instead of helping me, they are trying to demolish my boutique pushing me from pillar to post. This is my sole income to look after the children. Now the NHDA officials are claiming that a sewerage pipe is going underneath but I have shown the survey plan to prove that not a single pipe line is going underneath but a few feet away,” said Uditha.
According to Uditha, although Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa has assured that her boutique will not be demolished, the NHDA officials were adamant that this has to be removed despite the fact that it was granted to her as a compensation to her daughter.
“My daughter was nine months old when she was given this injection and from that moment onwards till she was 4 ½ years she could not walk. Even now she is not completely recovered. That was why this place was given to me. I am ready to vacate this place but the NHDA has to give me an alternative place,” said Uditha.  According to Uditha, if the NHDA could allocate one of the children’s park to Carlton Preschool said to be on a lease agreement, what was the reason why she is not allowed to carry out her business on the small piece of land which she too is paying rental from the inception.
Meanwhile Premadasa and Kumara, residents at Maligawatte Housing Scheme for the past 34 years queried as to why only a certain section of residents were asked to demolish the illegal extensions when the UPFA supporters are spared.  “These houses were given in 1978 by the then Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa as an alternative for those who lost their houses for the construction of the St. Johns Fish Market in Pettha. Originally there were 1550 houses in this scheme in 87 blocks but now all the residents have expanded their houses to provide shelter to their children’s families,” said the residents.
According to Premadasa, the NHDA has given a certain section of residents an ultimatum to demolish the illegal extensions on or before May 12 failing which the NHDA backhoes will carry out all the demolition work.
When The Sunday Leader visited Carlton Preschool, Maligawatte last week to find out the truth into these allegations, our press vehicle was refused entry nor were we allowed to take any pictures as the First Lady had arrived a few minutes earlier. However our staff photographer was still able to capture some photographs amidst tight security. By the time we reached Carlton Preschool the by-lane and the main road adjacent to the pre-school was full of security backup vehicles. The preschool was provided security by the presidential security division (PSD) and a separate ambulance was parked by the preschool.  When told that we want to get some information about the preschool, one coordinating secretary to the First Lady who identified himself as Dissanayake wanted the reporter to send a letter to the First Lady through the Managing Director of this organization to consider whether they could furnish the details to the paper or not.  However the residents next to Carlton Preschool claimed that the regular tight security in and around the area has become a problem to the people.
“The First Lady visits this school twice a week and her PSD officers and the back up vehicles are all over the roads. Since the preschool playground is next to our block, huge Amno roofing sheets have been put up vertically to cover the school play area. As a result we do not get proper ventilation and day light,” claimed the residents on conditions of anonymity.
Deputy General Manager Property Management NHDA Sarath Kumara when contacted by The Sunday Leader said that he is not aware of giving the children’s play ground to Carlton Preschool.
“We have leased out the land to construct the Carlton Preschool but I am not aware of the children’s park you were referring to. We cannot lease out playgrounds to any party. I have to check this with Wimalaratne District Manager NHDA Maligawatte Office,” said Kumara.

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