Spotlight on unhygienic environment in Malalasekara Mawatha
Pics by Damith Wickramasinghe
- New boutique temporarily suspended
- Drainage, school vans a nuisance to residents
- Small portions of land given on a temporary basis
- CMC and Cinnamon Gardens Police conducting investigations
- Complaints over never-ending disturbances
Despite city beautification projects that have been taking place, several areas in Colombo are still awaiting a facelift. One of these areas is a section of Malalasekara Mawatha, opposite Arcade Independence Square. Residents complain that many mobile boutiques have popped up over for the past few years, apart from the two permanent establishments which were approved by the CMC. In turn this ‘development’ has created several issues for the residents apart from the fact that the environment too has become polluted.
Residents appeal to President
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, one of the residents pointed out that the neighbourhood is far from being a residential area any more. “It has to be maintained because it’s a prime residential area. But the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has allowed two boutiques to operate since the 1970s. But from time to time there have been makeshift boutiques that have been in operation. As a result this area has become shoddy due to pavement hawkers and there’s no privacy for residents. It has also become a parking lot for school vans and these drivers use the nearby drain as an open toilet. There aren’t any public toilet facilities down this road either. With that there’s a bad stench emanating from the area on any given day and there are rats, flies and other disease-bearing pests roaming around. However following a court order we got the additional boutiques removed. But it is questionable as to how the CMC gave the go-ahead to construct another boutique recently. The Government is completely at odds because the President himself wanted to beautify this city. If you look at other roads they look like proper residential areas except this section of Malalasekara Mawatha. As such there has to be a prohibition regarding these establishments and the authorities must declare this area as a No-Parking zone for school vehicles.” the resident said.
In a letter addressed to the President, the residents pointed out that there is a proper car park further down Malalasekara Mawatha, built by the CMC, where there are no private residences. “The class of people who operate these boutiques leave much to be desired. It has come to a point where invaders dictate terms to the permanent residents, harassing the residents by parking their three wheelers and trucks blocking our entrances and causing street congestion. On several occasions they have behaved in a threatening manner,” the letter read.
It further stated that the dimensions of the mobile boutiques are growing from the approved sizes of 3’x 2.5’. “They are at least 15’ x 10’, they are not mobile and do not conform to any civilized detail mentioned above. The CMC has completely ignored our appeals,” the residents complained in the letter.
New boutique causing problems
However, upon visiting the area the Daily Mirror learned that construction work in the new boutique reportedly owned by a sitting Municipal councillor has been temporarily suspended. According to S. A. Anura, proprietor of the Torrington Milk Bar, that has been in existence for the past 50 years, it is the only shop in the area for people to have an affordable snack. “Initially there were petitions filed against us, but the CMC has given its approval to continue operations. The shop on the other side of the road too has been constructed after seeking approval from CMC. The establishment in question is the recent construction and it has created issues for us as well.” said Anura.
The Cinnamon Gardens Police is currently conducting an inquiry on the matter.
CMC agrees to resolve matters soon
However CMC Commissioner Roshani Dissanayake told the Daily Mirror that construction work in this new establishment has been stopped since observations are underway. “The CMC is giving concessions to low income people. Therefore we give a small portion of land on a temporary basis, so that they could improve their livelihoods. But at any given time we can take it back without paying them compensation. Whatever it is they have to follow the due process and abide by the specifications given by the CMC.” said Dissanayake.
When inquired about littering the area and the poorly maintained drainage Dissanayake said that the CMC only received a complaint regarding the new establishment, but confirmed that she would look into other matters as well.