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Organic fertilizer project at Dehiwala Zoo raises eye brows

20 January 2022 03:18 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Members of the SLP Union engaged in a protest. 
Pic Nisal Baduge

 

A union attached to the National Zoological Gardens in Dehiwala, which recognises itself as the ‘SLP union’, staged a protest yesterday, demanding a risk allowance of Rs. 5,000 sources said. The group claims that they haven’t been paid the allowance to which they are entitled.   


The union has claimed that only a select group of the staff has received this allowance of Rs. 5,000 allowance, whereas the others have received half that amount. The so-called union members launched the protest demanding risk allowances for all staff members. The protest was staged during the employees’ lunch hour at the entrance to the Zoological Gardens.   


Officials at the Zoo however opined that the SLP union was acting on personal agendas.   


They said the group was recently involved in a project to produce organic fertiliser, which was said to be a profitable venture for the State entity.   


The National Zoological Gardens management had requested details regarding the organic fertiliser project and the management had also requested the union members to sit for a meeting with details and documents of the proposed project. However, the SLP Union not only refused the request but also have not provided any details about the project so far, officials added.   

 

Bank records showed that their account had a deposit of Rs. 2,000 only. According to the bills and invoices, a fairly successful operation had been carried out, which would have earned approximately Rs.80,000-although no receipts had been issued

 

Despite no written approval to launch such a project within the Dehiwala Zoological Garden premises, the union has claimed that its former Director-General had given verbal approval to implement the project. The union also stated that this project was part of a new welfare society they had set up for the Dehiwala 
Zoological gardens.   


The new welfare society has been set up in addition to a legitimate welfare society in operation among the National Zoological Gardens employees. Investigations conducted by the Zoological Gardens management found out that the document which sought to establish a new welfare society was not signed or authorised by any of the Zoological Garden Board members.   


The union had also opened a bank account by providing a set of separate documents indicating that they had been permitted by the Zoological authorities to form the union and welfare society with their consent.   


Accordingly, the said union had used receipts and bills of the legitimate welfare organisation and sold organic fertilizer through this, officials alleged.   


Raw material for producing the organic fertiliser was extracted from the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens and reported to have been manufactured during their duty time, 
officials added.   


The manufactured fertiliser was then packed in bags carrying the Zoological Garden’s official logo without permission from authorities.   


The sources claimed that if all raw materials were given by the Zoological Gardens, the revenue received after selling this organic fertiliser should have gone directly to the department’s accounts, as it would have been the legitimate income earned through the raw materials extracted from the department.   


The sources claimed that the union had informed the Zoological Gardens’ management that they had opened a bank account and deposited the total revenue earned through this fertilizer project.   


However, bank records showed that their account had a deposit of Rs. 2,000 only. According to the bills and invoices, a fairly successful operation had been carried out, which would have earned approximately Rs.80,000-although no receipts had been issued.   


When the Zoological Gardens management had uncovered the fraudulent activities, an internal audit had been conducted. Following prompt investigations, the management had then warned the union that appropriate action would be taken against them, officials said.   


The management also informed the union to hand over the revenue they have earned through this project to the zoological gardens’ treasury.   


The union had also been informed that they would be allowed to run this project properly as per the rules and regulations of the zoological gardens.     

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