Serendib flour mill project remains in the oven
By Chris Kamalendran
The controversy over the Serendib flour mill project situated in the Colombo Port premises has taken a new turn with the JVP coming under pressure from the government, to withdraw the case filed against the project in the Colombo District Court.

The latest move came during a meeting between Ports Minister Mangala Samaraweera and a JVP trade unionist where the Minister tried his best to convince the trade union activist to withdraw the case.

The JVP union had however refused to back down and vowed to continue with their action while also pointing out that even the UNP did something similar by compelling the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya a UNP affiliated union, to withdraw the case filed by the JSS against the project.

The Sunday Times learns that one of the presidential advisors is known to be canvassing in favour of the project, despite adverse technical reports regarding its continuation.

The construction work that was carried out has already caused some cracks to appear on the Prince Vijaya Quay. The JVP affiliated All Ceylon General Ports Employee Union (ACGPEU) in March this year filed a case against government’s plan to lease out land for the Serendib flour mill project, claiming that it would be a loss to the state to allocate prime land from the Port premises for such a project.

The petitioners claimed that a lease agreement had been entered into in a discreet manner and it was thereafter challenged by the JSS, but under pressure from the then UNF government the JSS withdrew the case on the grounds that the proposed project had been shifted to a new location some 50 meters away.

The Sunday Times learns that pressure had also been brought on the Uva Province Governor Nanda Mathew, who at the time was a member of the UNP, had filed a separate case. Mr. Mathew told The Sunday Times that under no circumstances would he withdraw the case.

He said he decided on court action after the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya withdrew its case as he felt it was only proper to continue the battle against the project coming up within the port.

Mr. Mathew said he was particularly interested in the case from the point of view that his father the late Cyril Mathew was a founder member of the JSS and it was considered the fighting arm of the UNP and union's decision to withdraw the case was influenced by certain politicians.

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