Sinking ‘Seema Malaka’ shrouded in mystery

Published : 8:15 am  June 7, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (126) reads | 

Mystery surrounds the construction or misconstruction of a Seema Malaka in Diyawanna Oya. To avoid any miscommunication the  underscores the fact that this article does not refer to the construction with the same name and situated in Beira Lake. 

  • Authorities assume that the barge must have stuck in the mud that was coming from the adjacent paddy field
  • The project was handled by SANKEN to cater to the people in the area to carry out religious activities
  • The structure is said to be 4000 square metres with the capacity of accommodating 200 people

What’s cause for concern about the Seema Malaka that’s situated in Diyawanna Oya is that this construction is reported to be sinking amid heavy rains and floods in the area. The Daily Mirror Features desk tried to clarify the Seema Malaka issue and find answers to some pertinent questions like; who made it, how it was made and most importantly whose money was used to build this structure.   

There were a few men at the location when the Daily Mirror made a visit there recently. Those who were there seemed to be supervisors. When inquiries were made they disagreed that Seema Malaka is sinking and added that the structure had tilted a little bit. The time was around 5.00 am when this happened. They also emphasized that the unfinished structure needed about another month’s work to reach completion. They also said that the construction will be taken to the middle of Diyawanna Oya in keeping with their plans of relocation.   

Project Director Jayawardene said that the sinking was caused by a construction flaw identified in one of the four water-filled barges

They said that the construction work commenced before the rains and the work in being handled by Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLLRDC).   

When inquiries were made from the SLLRDC Chairman Roshan Gunawardane, he said that he visited the location following a request by Urban Development Authority (UDA) Chairman Jagath Munasinghe who wished to see whether the sinking structure could be saved.   

Construction flaw
Efforts made to reach UDA Chairman Jagath Munsinghe on his mobile phone proved futile. 

Project Director Shameera Jayawardene, an engineer, when contacted said that the sinking was caused by a construction flaw identified in one of the four water-filled barges (empty boxes filled with water) on which the structure stands. According to him the barge had been damaged. They assume that the barge must have stuck in the mud that was coming from the adjacent paddy field. Previously it was only one barge, but now all the barges are stuck in the mud. “We have to now check the structure, wood, and iron used in this construction. It will take around three months to complete the construction, he said.   

“There are four barges connected to this. They touch the bottom of the lake. We pump out the water in the barges so that the construction can float. This structure is able to float.  

“We emptied the barges, but the water in one did not empty as planned. With the water level rising in the lake, the barges and the structure got flooded. We have to wait till the water level recedes, to pump out the water and fix the problem associated with the barge.” he explained.   

The work of this construction began in January. The work was expected to be completed in September. This accident occurred during the final stages of construction, he noted.   

“We don’t know for what purpose this building is to be used. It is being built within the UDA premises and we carried on the construction work following a plan given by the UDA’s National Physical Planning Department (NPPD),” he added.   

The water level has receded to some extent yet it is still over the barges and therefore we have to wait for the water level to drop to the minimum six feet level.   

Describing the incident regarding Seema Malaka at Diyawanna Oya in Kimbulawala, at a recent media briefing, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said, “The project was handled by SANKEN to cater to the people in the area to carry out religious activities and meditate. We approved the project which operates as a private entity and it will be handed over to the Government when completed”.   

The minister also noted that these types of Government projects have failed to achieve their purpose many times. He pointing out that the construction of the Cinnamon Gardens roundabout had failed seven times.   

The Minister hinted that during the past contractors had been involved in such meritorious acts for which the money deposited in politicians’ bank accounts in Seashells or the Virgin Islands was used.   

The UDA’s NPPD had provided the architectural support for the project. The structure is said to be 4000 square metres with the capacity of accommodating 200 people.   

SANKEN replies 
When the Daily Mirror contacted SANKEN Constructions (Pvt) Ltd Managing Director Ranjith Gunatilleke he denied the company being involved in the construction of this facility.   

“What is being built in Diyawanna Oya isn’t a ‘Seema Malaka’ even if it resembles one. You are speaking to SANKEN and SANKEN has nothing to do with that,” he said.   

When he was informed about the Megapolis Minister’s comment that SANKEN handled the project, he said, “He would have referred to SANKEN. But actually, this is done by Skills Training and Management Company, an Associate Organization of SANKEN and located in Kaduwela as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project using their own funds.   

“How can people meditate in such a place? I think people are misguided and their talk is guided by the way they think. Not a cent is being provided by the Government, as I know of. Skills Management in Kaduwela, is involved in a lot of CSR projects,” Gunatilleke said.   

When asked for further details, he said that further information could be obtained from Skills Training and Management, situated in Kaduwela. Efforts made to reach them through telephone proved futile.   

Later the  Daily Mirror learned that “Skills Training and Management Company,” is chaired by Gunatilleke.   

In the wake of this situation, research done by this newspaper unearthed that the renowned Seema Malaka, which is a part of the Gangaramaya Temple, and located in the Beira Lake, had sunk in 1970s, not long before it was built.