24th August , 2003 Volume 10, Issue 6
bridge proposal shelved
proposed bridge between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu is likely to be shelved
as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jeyaram has expressed strong
opposition, Ports Ministry officials said.
according to Ministry officials has raised objections citing LTTE
infiltration into Tamil Nadu.
also said it is unlikely that the Sri Lankan government would go ahead
with elaborate plans to construct the proposed bridge as there is
opposition from Tamil Nadu.
they said the ferry service would commence once the Indian junior minister
arrives in Sri Lanka shortly to sign the MOU.
stone's throw away from the Parliamentary Complex on Parliament Road one
finds the Sri Jayawardenapura Rajamalwatte Vipassana Meditation Center (RVMC).
inside the gates, it is as if entering a different world. The sound of
silence and serene tranquility envelops the entrant. Excepting the
occasional cry of a crow and the sounds of the Diyawanna Oya waters,
absolute silence reigns.
bird chirpings and soft breezes offer a magical welcome. Beyond this lies
the coppice. One has to travel a few meters to see the first signs of the
afternoon meal is just over, and males and females clad in full white walk
to a nearby tap to wash their hands. It is as if the serenity of the
backdrop is reflected on the people.
this serenity is being threatened now, with the gravel road leading to the
Centre being the cause of the controversy.
wall separates the centre from this road. Next to the wall is a bare plot
of land, the property of the Urban Development Authority (UDA).
according to visitors to the Centre, plans are under way to sell this land
to a private party. To facilitate the move, it is learned that the UDA has
made a written request to the chief incumbent of the Center, Ven Aruppola
Vipassi thero to grant permission to use the road as the main entrance to
the bare land.
Vipassi Thero said that the land was tipped to be sold to a private party
to open a restaurant. "A restaurant next to a meditation center
sounds tragic. It would serve liquor, meats and other items and obviously,
such a project could be mooted by someone who does not understand the
Buddhist ethos," observed the thero. Anyway, there was a separate
entrance for the UDA land from the Parliament Road, he said.
wrote to Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding this issue. The premier
sent his Secretary Bradman Weerakoon to inspect the place," the thero
Vipassi received a response from Weerakoon on May 9, 2002. It stated that
under no circumstances should this road be opened to the public while
alternative arrangements should be made to enter the UDA land.
further stated that if this road were made the main entrance to the UDA
land, the purpose of the centre would be defeated.
despite the said letter, the Thero said Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi
Karunanayake had made a surprise visit there in May.
Minister promised a separate road running behind the centre. When I
explained that meditating people would be disturbed if the road is opened
to the public, he promised a wall in front of the road," the Thero
a wall is thus built, there is a likelihood of increased traffic on the
other road. How could people meditate in peace? he queries.
Vipassi insists that legally, the road belongs to the centre " Others
cannot decide on it."
solve the problem, he has requested the UDA to offer the controversial
piece of land to the Meditation Centre, and is yet to hear from the
Lands, of the UDA, R M Ariyadasa said that the gravel road was the only
legal route to enter the UDA land, but said a meeting with the chief
incumbent would soon take place.
on the dispute, Minister Ravi Karunanayake disassociated himself from the
issue and said the matter was entirely up to the UDA. "The priest is
just trying to be difficult and is simply dragging politicians in "
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