Safi Nagar sand mining scam:reiterate call for thorough probe
TNA MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam (Batticaloa) and CP MP Weerasumana Weerasinghe (Matara District) yesterday (11) urged the government to initiate legal proceedings against the former Chairman of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB), Senarath Hewage Prasad Manjula, and Director General Sajjana de Silva, sent on compulsory leave over corruption charges.
The issues at hand couldn’t be swept under the carpet by their removal, the MPs said. Calling for a no holds barred investigation into the GSMB, lawmaker Rasamanickam alleged corruption therein seemed to be so endemic, political authorities, too, should be subjected to scrutiny.
Both MPs appreciated the stand taken by Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary to the Environment Ministry, in respect of the large-scale sand mining project undertaken by sacked GSMBChairman Manjula at Safi Nagar in the Muttur electorate. Jasinghe found fault with de Silva for issuing a permit under controversial circumstances.Dr. Jasinghe yesterday told The Island that a formal inquiry would be conducted in respect of de Silva.
MPs Rasaminckam and Weerasinghe stressed that the government moved against the GSMB bosses in the wake of a scathing attack on the state enterprise carried out by TNA, JVP and SJB members.JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake lambasted Environment Minister Nazeer Ahamed over corruption at the highest level to the lowest rung in this vital government institution. The JVPer questioned the circumstances Manjula as the head of a private mining company, called Uptown Ventures, had received a mining license. Manjula has received the appointment, as GSMB Chairman, in Feb. 2022, after the sacking of Prof. Anura Walpola under controversial circumstances.
MP Rasamanickam first raised the Safi Nagar issue at hand at a COPE meeting, on February 23, 2020. The Batticaloa District MP questioned the rationale behind accommodating the proprietor of a mining company as the Chairman of GSMB.JVPer Dissanayake asked why Uptown Ventures was granted a license to engage in sand mining, in state land, in a clear case of conflict of interest and regardless of a proposal made by another party.
MP Rasamanickam declared in Parliament that the GSMB Chairman was the person who secured the license to remove 100,000 cubes of sand from Safi Nagar. The MP questioned how an official, who is supposed to ensure transparency and legality in sand mining, received a license for the same? The TNA representative declared his readiness to face any legal challenge. Declaring he had the required evidence to prove his accusations, MP Rasamanickam alleged the DG, GSMB, is responsible for all corrupt activities therein.
The Parliament was told how a license obtained by Uptown Ventures for the cultivation of chilies, in 3,000 acres of land, permitted the enterprise to engage in large scale sand mining. The project received government sanction for mining of 5,000 cubes of sand, on a monthly basis (SF)