UDA to hand over Otter Club land to two cricketers?
- SJB claims cricketing duo will build apartment complex
- UDA DG confirms future construction on land
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
The Urban Development Authority (UDA) is planning to take over a plot of land belonging to the Otter Aquatic Club (OAC), Colombo, and hand it over to two Sri Lankan cricketers for the construction of an apartment complex, claimed Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) politician Niroshan Padukka.
Speaking at a media briefing, he alleged that the UDA is adopting a different approach to property belonging to the OAC in a context where several other sports clubs have been given the opportunity to earn proceeds from certain buildings such as supermarkets built on the lands belonging to them.
“The UDA has now placed its hand on the land owned by the OAC, of which the late author Arthur C. Clarke was also a member. With the termination of the lease agreement for the said land in 2019, the property was taken over by the UDA through the relevant Land Commissioner. Now, part of the land is going to be leased to two cricketers who played for Sri Lanka, to build an apartment complex,” he claimed.
Padukka further claimed that the Waters Edge Group under the UDA has been handed over the administration of the OAC, which is causing losses to the club to the tune of millions of rupees a month.
However, he claimed that the Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club (CR&FC) and the Colombo Hockey and Football Club (CH&FC) have been allowed to build supermarkets on the lands belonging to them and obtain the income through such. He claimed: “At present, the CH&FC has been given the opportunity to construct a building on the land belonging to it in order to obtain the proceeds from it. Also, a supermarket has been built on land owned by the CR&FC and it has been given the opportunity to obtain its income, but the OAC is not given that opportunity because the UDA is watching the land that belongs to it. There is a plan to take over the tennis court and the parking lot of the land and to give it to two cricket players.”
He claimed that the UDA was pursuing one policy with regard to rugby and cricket clubs and another with the OAC.
Meanwhile, Padukka alleged that at a time when the country is in an economic crisis, the UDA is renovating a building belonging to the 80 Club of Colombo at a huge cost. “The 80 Club of Colombo is a sports club which started with 80 members and now has around 300 members. To get its lifetime membership, one has to pay Rs. 2 million. The average membership fee is Rs. 500,000. Now, the UDA is spending Rs. 420 million to renovate the building belonging to it with the help of the Navy. This club has only 300 members and spending such a large sum for renovations clearly reflects the fact that the rulers do not feel for the country which is in an economic crisis at present,” he alleged.
Urban Development, Waste Disposal, and Community Cleanliness State Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa was not available for comment, while Urban Development, Waste Disposal, and Community Cleanliness State Ministry Secretary Sirinimal Perera, when contacted, said that he was not in a position to speak under health-related grounds.
When contacted by The Morning, Youth and Sports Affairs Ministry Secretary Anuradha Wijekoon said that the Sports Affairs Ministry is not in a position to make any intervention with regard to the affairs of sports clubs as they are independent bodies. “There are no sports clubs coming under the Sports Affairs Ministry. Usually, for each and every sport in the country, there are national federations. Such federations have established sports clubs at the district and provincial levels. Therefore, we are not able to make any intervention with regard to their affairs,” he said.
When contacted by The Morning to inquire about the matter, UDA Director General (DG) Prasad Ranaweera said that the OAC’s land in question is a state-owned land. He said that the OAC had not paid the relevant annual rentals for 10 to 15 years and that therefore, it was taken under the UDA. “This land’s plan was under the Thimbirigasyaya Divisional Secretariat. For 10 to 15 years, the OAC did not pay the annual rentals. Based on that, we got it under the UDA.”
When questioned whether there are plans to build an apartment complex on the said land, he said that not only an apartment complex, but many other facilities will be built there. He said: “We are going to refurbish it. The OAC has not maintained itself properly for a long time. Therefore, we will refurbish it by building facilities such as apartments and parking. A sports club with necessary facilities will also be built.”