By Shanika Sriyananda
The residents of Jayanthipura, Battaramulla in the High Security Zone in close proximity to the Parliament complex have requested President Maithripala Sirisena to intervene to remove the newly-built unauthorised workshop of an advertising company that has disturbed the peaceful environment of the housing scheme.
The Jayanthipura Welfare Society, in its letters to the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe written on 31 December 2018, has stated that the advertising company which commenced construction in November in the high residential area has caused a security threat and also sound pollution with unbearable noises from the workshop.
Jayanthipura housing scheme in Battaramulla, which was constructed in 1956, has 250 houses.
“Some years back, there was a workshop but they had to shift to some other area as residents protested against it. Since this is a high residential area no factories or workshops are allowed in the Jayanthipura housing scheme,” Vice President of the Society Saman Samarasinghe said.
According to Samarasinghe, the outdoor advertising firm, which has eight workshops in different locations, has continue to build the workshop despite strong protests by the residents.
He said that 70 residents, who were immediate neighbors and had been affected by the continuous noise in the construction site, had signed a petition outlining the mental and physical harassment that they are undergoing.
“We have lodged a complaint at the Thalangama Police on 11 December as we are concerned about the security of the Jayanthipura housing scheme. This workshop is kept locked without giving access even to the Grama Sevaka and also to the PHI of the area, who came to visit the site. No one knows what is happening inside the workshop,” he said, adding that the residents are against commercialising Jayanthipura, which is a peaceful neighborhood.
They also complained about careless loading and unloading of heavy metal rods and polls and reversing of heavy lorries on the 15-feet width road in the housing scheme, where there is no turning circle.
According to the society, the high frequency continuous noises from different types of toppling and handling iron rods, sheets used for outdoor advertising and for hoarding work, unbearably irritating noises of continuous welding, drilling and grinding of the workshop belonging to Blue Oceanic Advertising has disrupted the peaceful environment of the Jayanthipura housing scheme.
The former President of the Society Jayantha Ratnayake said that the authorities – Kaduwela Municipal Council, the Urban Development Authority, the Central Environmental Authority(CEA) and the Grama Seva Niladhari – had confirmed that company had not been given any approval to construct the workshop in the Jayanthipura high residential and the High Security Zone of the Parliament complex.
“However construction of the workshop continues at a hurried pace,” he said.
The UDA had inspected the site and issued a letter signed by the Head of the Enforcement, Audit and Monitoring Unit Thushani de Alwis to the owner of the Blue Oceanic Advertising asking him to submit the approvals within 14 days and if failed to do so to stop construction and also that the UDA would take legal action as it is an unauthorised construction.
“We lodged the second complaint at the Thalangama Police on 29 December and there the owner was given 21 days to get the approval and he agreed to stop work till then. However, he didn’t stop the construction,” Ratnayake said.
The society has lodged a complaint again at the Mirihana Police on 30 December, requesting an impartial inquiry.
“They were doing steel bending at night and once we called 119 and they stopped it but are doing it during the daytime. Since there is no redress, we wrote to the President and the Prime Minister requesting to restore normalcy in our area, where we have been living peacefully for decades,” he said.
CEA Chairman Chandrarathne Pallegama said: “The CEA is mandated to measure sound pollution after 6 p.m. and we are involved in this following a complaint received from the Jayanthipura Welfare Society. We have sent a notice to the owner informing that the CEA would take legal action against the company as he has failed to produce necessary approvals before 3 January.”
CEA Western Province Director A. Premachandra said: “Since he has not submitted the approvals to construct the workshop on 3 December, we have already informed him about filing a case against the unauthorised building in court.”
Meanwhile, Blue Oceanic Advertising Owner Rasika Abeysooriya said: “We have not yet started any business in the site. These residents can complain that they are disturbed if we have commenced the business. I have my workshops in different locations and here I have only my office. I will show the necessary documents when I commence work. I have no political backing.”