The shopping complex which was built in 2013 under “Deyata Kirula”development program is in a dilapidated state as Divisional Secretariat has not taken action to acquire the land which the building built. Since the land is not possessed by the Divisional Secretariat the vendors question the legality of the shops that are in the building. Although there was a vehicle park maintained in the land which the shopping complex is built there is no evidence that the Divisional Secretary legally acquired the land for the Divisional Secretariat. When this was inquired from the Divisional Secretary S.M.S Nawaz stated that there is an issue with regard to the ownership of the land. The land was measured by the department of the survey and 0.097 hectares was allocated to the vehicle park and 3 hectares was allocated to Ridigama Hospital. The Health Services Director of North Western province also has stated that there is an issue with regard to the ownership of the land.
As per the statement of the Divisional Secretariat, it is evident that the Divisional Secretariat has unduly possessed a land and has engaged in illegal construction. As a result, although the building is built in a highly populated area out of the 16 shops in the premises only 4 are in operation. The vendors hesitate to go ahead as there is an issue with regard to the ownership. A vendor who wished to stay anonymous stated that although there were many who wanted to get a shop but are reluctant due to the ownership issue. The Divisional Secretariat requests 15 lakhs for fifteen years. This is a way too high amount for an area like Ridigama. There are vendors who wanted to go ahead but they too hesitate as the ownership of the land is not clear.
Some of the former members of the Divisional secretariat blame the former president of the Divisional Secretariat as the building was built on her sole decision. When the writer tried to contact the former chief it was revealed that she has migrated to Australia. Mohamed Raj, who has a jewelry shop at the shopping complex stated that the Divisional Secretariat has provided a deed. Although there is an issue with regard to the ownership of the land he said he did
not fear as he trusts the Divisional Secretariat. He said another reason the vendors did not want to purchase the shops was that the shops are small. When the writer inquired from the Secretary of the Divisional Council Ajith Kumarasinghe he said the building was built upon the permission received from the District Secretary of Kurunegala. He said eight more shops are to be opened in the future. He said the rental fee of Rs. 15 lakhs cannot be changed as it was decided by the committee. He further stated that there is no legal issue with regard to the land.
Kurunegala District Secretary stated that the land was given to build a shopping complex in the year 2013 as it was a need. Also, he said that he has instructed the Divisional Secretariat to properly acquire the land. It is the responsibility of the authorities to provide an environment-friendly to vendors to engage in their
businesses without any doubts.