Modarawila Stadium to be sold for commercial purposes
By Anjana Kaluarachchi
Modarawila Stadium which was to be converted to a fully-fledged sports complex since half of the work has been completed,faces an unfortunate situation, as Authorities have been attempting to sell the land for commercial purposes, ignoring the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ceylon Today reliably learns.
The stadium encompasses eight acres of land and is situated next to MAS Unichela. It has the potential to be developed into a fully-fledged sports complex which can accommodate a 400m track, football and rugby grounds, swimming pool and pavilion. Even though it was not officially open to the public, athletes of the area were already using the facility to carry out their training. Recently,however, they have had to face a problem as a popular businessman in the area has been claiming the land for commercial purposes.
During the President’s tour around the country a few months ago, the public had urged the President to complete construction to enable the area to be utilised as a sports complex. A request was made in writing and handed over to the President on 26 June, stating that 49 schools within Panadura Division - including 10 schools in the city – did not have a proper stadium to practise sports like Athletics, Volleyball, Football or Rugby. Hence, they had requested the half-built stadium in Modarawila to be open to the public to be used for sports activities.
Following the President’s visit, the Presidential Secretariat had directed the request to the State Ministry of Rural and School Sports Infrastructure Improvement. In their letter, dated 16 October (with copy to Presidential Secretariat),the Ministry had stated that the Kalutara District Secretariat, which owned the plot of land, had already been informed about the request and directed to take necessary action as soon as possible.
A few years back the Kalutara District Secretariat, which had been informed about the situation on numerous occasions, had written to the Chief Minister of the Western Province stating they had received requests from 18 schools and a number of athletic coaches to grant permission to use Modarawila Stadium to practise; and hence, requested the plot of land be given for this purpose.
Despite all these requests, athletes as well as schools are shocked that the authorities have been using the current pandemic situation to make a commercial deal to sell the plot of land, which is the only available sports venue for more than a dozen top schools in the area,especially after the Presidential Secretariat had instructed the authorities to take necessary action to develop the land into a sports complex following public request during the President's visit to the area.
The letter to the President,written on behalf of all schools and athletes in the area by a member of public on 26 July, also stated that the area which was planned to be converted into a stadium, has been a source of income over the years for many politicians in the area, who had earned money through bogus development projects to build the stadium, though they haven’t done anything worthwhile.
Also, due to an official blunder, approval given for the Modarawila project has now been shifted to Bandaragama.
The letter also states that during the last Government part of the ground had been allocated to the Vocational Training Authority, and that part has now been rented out to a businessman.