The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has passed a proposal to fix playground equipment at the Viharamahadevi Park and Mutwal Crow Island Park and charge Rs. 400 per hour from children who play at these grounds.
The proposal has been submitted by the United National Party (UNP) to the Financial Committee, to be initiated as a Private Public Partnership (PPP) and it was passed in the council session with majority votes on August 24.
UNP and SLFP councillors had voted in favour of the proposal while the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) councillors strongly rejected it.
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) was absent when the vote was called.
According to the proposal, construction of the two play areas will be done by the private firm who will make a payment of Rs. 10,000 monthly as rent to the Colombo Municipality.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, JVP Councillor Hemantha Weerakoon said it was unfortunate that a government body such as the CMC that is earning a net income of Rs. 16,000 million per annum, was attempting to find money from children’s leisure activities.
He questioned as to what was provided by the Colombo Municipality to the public for free.
“We objected the proposal as it was a violation of the CMC ordinance to implement such a proposal. It is also not ethical to charge from children’s leisure activities. According to the proposal, a child between 5 to 10 years has to pay Rs. 100/- for 15 minutes. Can a child stop playing within 15 minutes. Then how much would it cost the parents, if this proposal was implemented,” he said.
When contacted, CMC Commissioner V. K. Anura said he was not aware of the proposal.
JVP Councillor Weerakoon confirmed that the Commissioner did not attend the evening council session when the proposal was passed.
“However, the Commissioner cannot say that he doesn’t know about this. He is informed of all the proposals made at the meeting,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources at the CMC said that though the proposal was passed with majority votes, it was not in accordance to the CMC ordinance, and therefore cannot be implemented. (Thilanka Kanakarathna)