After this incident was reported a wide investigation was launched with an exclusive investigation by the Presidential Secretariat
- Ginigathena Pradesha Sabha Chairman prepares fraudulent documents to cover the offence of felling trees valued at more than ten million Rupees
- It is surprising that no state institute was aware of this incident until the trees were sold
- The PS Chairman has also transported those trees without informing the State Timber Corporation
- PS Chairman Jayashanka Perera had issued a letter giving instructions to remove trees which he claimed were a hazard to the public residing on the Diyagala – Nallatanniya road using his authority
- The places where trees were sawed and piled have been located and the Grama Niladhari of the area has sealed the collected timber after informing the District Secretary
- The Chairman had used this land to saw some tree trunks and there is a witness in the area who is willing to prove that PS lorries carried these trunks
- This newspaper is also in the possession of a video of the piled up logs
- After the Divisional Secretariat was informed about this an investigation was launched and the logs and the trunks were sealed
Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha (PS) Chairman Jayasanka Perera was allegedly accused of haphazardly felling 42 trees prior to widening Diyagala – Nallatanniya road without informing any state institute. We reported on this in the Daily Mirror recently.
These felled trees are valued at more than ten million Rupees. It is surprising that no state institute was aware of this incident until the trees were sold. After this incident was reported a wide investigation was launched with an exclusive investigation by the Presidential Secretariat. In the investigation conducted by a special committee appointed by the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat, the officers involved revealed that 18 trees, falling under the Road Development Authority reserve, were felled and the rest of the trees were from estate company lands. The committee has also found that prior to removing trees belonging to the RDA, no state institute has been informed. The PS Chairman has also transported those trees without informing the State Timber Corporation. However, critics point out that he has no right to transport them and it was the State Timber Corporation that should transport, estimate the value and sell the trees after which the money should go to the government.
An investigating officer said that the PS Chairman has pocketed the money obtained by transporting and selling the trees.
Even though the team of investigators has participated in the investigation following a request by Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat, the Ambagamuwa PS Chairman has avoided the team by claiming that he had travelled to Nuwara Eliya for an urgent official matter.
The Chairman felled the trees without informing any state institute. In such a situation, changing the minutes of a meeting to include bogus details that a discussion took place regarding tree felling is a fraudulent act, Helapriya Nandaraja added
Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha Member Helapriya Nandaraja said that the CID was in charge of the other investigation through which much information has been revealed. When compiling the previous article, the owner of Jayanthi Sawmill in Badupola said that the felled trees were taken there to be sawed. She also said that she was unwilling to accept them as there was no permit. However, she had sawed some trunks on a request by the Chairman and the Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha had paid for that, she added.
However, the CID investigations have revealed that a Forest Officer in the Gampaha district is said to be involved in this and he had informed the sawmill owner about the tree trunks which didn’t have permits, Nandaraja said. The officer had asked the sawmill owner to saw the tree trunks. There are investigations probing these incidents, he added.
Govt. Property misused
The CID has also revealed that the Ambagamuwa PS Chairman had prepared fraudulent documents by providing a letter to those who felled the trees. He had issued a letter giving instructions to remove trees which, he claimed, were a hazard to the public residing on the Diyagala – Nallatanniya road using his powers as a Chairman. Even though the letter was dated 18th December, the person who felled those trees giving a statement to Police had said that he had cut those trees on December 17 on a request by the Chairman. A worker who loaded the trees has said that they were transported in a Pradesha Sabha lorry. Even though the Chairman had ordered the felling of those trees using his powers, he has no legal authority to transport or sell them. He should also inform the Ambagamuwa Divisional Secretariat prior to removing trees and he has failed to do so. Helapriya Nandaraja said that the Chairman had used the money that should have gone to the government for his personal use. He also said that the Chairman had changed the minutes of a previous general meeting of the Pradesha Sabha so as to claim that he had informed the general meeting prior to removing trees posing dangers on the Diyagala – Nallatanniya road. However other State Institute officers of the area or other PS members were unaware of these 42 trees until Helapriya Nandaraja inquired about the tree felling in the divisional committee meeting held in January. The Chairman felled the trees without informing any state institute. In such a situation, changing the minutes of a meeting to include bogus details that a discussion took place regarding tree felling is a fraudulent act, Nandaraja added.
He also indicated that by felling, transporting and selling trees on the Diyagala – Nallatanniya road while the RDA has already made plans to construct the road, the Chairman has earned money misusing government property.
The Ambagamuwa Pradesha Sabha Member Nandaraja said that speculation is rife that investigation teams have found enough facts during investigations to prove that the Chairman is guilty. He added that legal actions are being taken on the instructions of the Attorney General. The Hatton Criminal Division has filed a case against the Chairman. The Hatton Court has informed the Nuwara Eliya Land Reform Commission to submit a report within 14 days containing details of ownership of lands where the felled trees once stood.
The places where trees were sawed and piled have been located and the Grama Niladhari of the area has sealed the collected timber after informing the District Secretary, Nandaraja added. One such place is a land near the Sri Sudarshanarama Purana Rajamaha Viharaya in Badupola which is said to belong to the temple. During the construction of the Hatton–Awissawella road, the authorised company had used that land as a yard and at present the land is rented out for various purposes. The Chairman had used this land to saw some tree trunks and there is a witness in the area who is willing to prove that PS lorries carried these trunks to the area to be sawed. He said that the tree trunks were brought to the area in PS lorries and were sawed in the respective land. He had refused to give a statement to the police because that would have invited trouble. There are several trunks left in the area which are unsawed. (The Daily Mirror is in the possession of a video record of the comments made by the eye witness during an interview with this newspaper). According to the eyewitness the trunks had been brought in PS lorries and were sawed in the land. Several other logs from another areas had been brought in lorries and piled inside an ongoing construction site in the temple. This newspaper is also in the possession of a video of the piled up logs. When Nandaraja inquired from the Chief incumbent of the temple regarding the timber he had said that the PS Chairman Jayasanka Perera had brought them there. The Chairman has also asked for permission to saw some trunks in the nearby land belonging to the temple and logs sawed somewhere else have been piled inside the temple building. Helapriya Nandaraja has questioned the Chief incumbent again and he has said that the Chairman has provided those logs for the construction of the temple building. Yet he has later told that he made the previous statement as he was told to do so by the Chairman. After the Divisional Secretariat was informed about this an investigation was launched and the logs and the trunks were sealed, Nandaraja added. He also said that there is information about several other places where the trunks were sawed, and the sawed logs have been transported to Kandy.
Critics point out that even though the PS Chairman Jayasanka Perera had ordered the felling of those trees using his powers, he has no legal authority to transport or sell them. They also say that he should have informed the Ambagamuwa Divisional Secretariat prior to removing trees; which has failed to do
When inquiries were made via a telephone call, the Chief incumbent said that he was unaware that trunks were sawed or brought to the temple. When asked how he could be unaware of such large trunks being brought to the temple, he said that he was not present when the trunks were brought there. This newspaper again questioned him about the prospect of not seeing the trunks once he had returned to the temple. The Chief Incumbent responded to these queries by stating that the Chairman had requested his permission to saw timber in the temple premises and had later brought in some other logs. When asked whether he was giving various answers in keeping with the instructions of the Chairman, the priest hung up.
Several attempts made to reach PS Chairman Jayasanka Perera by calling him up on his mobile phone (0760992177) to obtain his comments proved futile.