The Thimbirigasyaya Divisional Secretary (DS) has decided to take legal action against the Otters Aquatic Club (OAC), located on a Rs.1.2 billion block of state land in Colombo 7 to collect Rs.354 million in defaulted rent, the Daily Mirror learns.
The rent has accumulated from 1956, a senior Secretariat official said yesterday.
Divisional Secretary Priyanai Sandanayaka the valuable prime land had been leased out to the OAC at an annual rental of Rs.222.00 on a 33-year agreement in 1956.
Though the lease agreement had to be renewed in 1989 and the value reassessed it had not happened and the OAC continued to be liable for the 1956 rental, which had also not been paid up to date.
“When I studied the files of crown lands leased out to private parties after I assumed office in 2010, I found that the OAC has not paid any rent. Then, with the assistance of the Provincial Land Commissioner I re-assessed the land value based on a 2002 valuation and found that the OAC owed the government Rs.354 million,” Ms Sandanayaka said.
She said the DS office sent several reminders to the OAC calling for the rent. Meanwhile the club filed action against the DS in the Court of Appeal and a settlement between the two parties in 2011 with the OAC agreeing to pay two per cent of the land value in addition to overdue amount of Rs.354 million.
Ms. Sandanayaka said the club had only paid Rs.970,000 up to now though the last date given to settle the dues was yesterday.
“We have no option but to file action against the OAC to collect our outstanding rent and I will consult the Attorney General on this matter soon,” she added.
Meanwhile, OAC General Manager Suresh De Silva said the club has been serving a cross section of Colombo’s residents since 1936 and is run as a service and not as a commercial venture.
“We have produced dozens of national and international level swimmers and have been in the forefront of promoting swimming and life saving for several decades. A large number of private and public schools seek our service for the development of swimming as well,” Mr. De Silva stressed. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)