Widening of High Level Road No compensation paid to land owners

Published : 9:40 am  July 2, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (2218) reads | 

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Text & Pics By   Muditha Dayananda   
Despite handing over their lands and rendering all assistance towards the widening of the High Level Road, the authorities  continue to delay the payment of   compensation, and aggravate the situation by using heavy machinery for this road development work which had caused cracks in the walls of their houses  and business establishments, the residents of Maharagama and  Pannipitiya areas said.
The statement made by the Divisional Secretary and other officials connected with this matter indicating that in 1925 a portion of their lands had been taken over by the   government and compensation had been made, the residents say they are confronted with the issue whether the compensation now payable would include the actual size of the lands that are to be vested.

This issue is faced by the owners of lands of about 100 to 150 meters on the High Level Road   between Maharagama and Pannipitiya. There existed two adjacent roadways   bordering High Level road in this area, which is now being included as a part of the main road.
Attempts to widen   the High Level Road had been made over the past ten to twelve years. With the promise of payment of compensation in 2012,and on the understanding of an advance payment, the residents agreed to vest these lands for road widening. However the RDA had now stated that a portion of these lands already belong   to the state according to a survey plan of 1925.

The residents claim   that no issue of this nature surfaced as they had mortgaged these properties   to state and other private banks, and further the said gazette notification   of 1925 is not traceable even at the Government Archives Department. The   residents allege that this may be a ruse by the authorities to acquire a   portion of their lands without paying compensation.

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They further stated  that in April last year the establishment of ownership was held relating to   the lands to be vested for this purpose, followed by a notification to the   residents by the Divisional Secretariat stating that after a valuation by the Valuation Department compensation would be paid to them.

Not withstanding   these facts the UDA requested from the residents to allow them to go ahead   with the development of the road, without the valuation being done, and paid   a pittance as a temporary cover to those house owners, whose parapet walls   and walls of their house had to be demolished. This was in July last year,   and without the valuation being undertaken, payment of compensation continues   to be dragging on.

While this issue is   continuing the authorities continue with the development work forcibly   carpeting the roads having scant regard to the pavements used by pedestrians.   Ignoring the regulations that the drains should be constructed with concrete   slabs covering them, they are going ahead with the road building work.

Residents of Pannipitiya charge that the authorities had taken the law into   their hands and were going ahead with this work in an arbitrary manner. In the absence   of drains deep enough to hold storm water only shoe bridge types of drains are being constructed and they fear that on rainy days they would be prevented from   stepping outside their houses.

Expressing her   views on this matter the Divisional Secretary of Maharagama Ms Buddhi   Tharanga Karunasena said that they never waited until the compensations was  paid to commence road development work, which was impossible and time   consuming, and therefore an advance payment was made and the work commenced.

There is an issue of a portion of these lands taken over in 1925 and   compensation paid to the owners of that time, according to the Survey Department. This matter is receiving their attention and action would be   taken in accordance with state documents.
She assured that compensation would   be paid and for those who had suffered damages to their houses and buildings   due to the impact of these heavy road building machinery would also be   adequately compensated.