ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 45

Bills too high for the hills

By Shelton Hettiaratchi

While the Nuwara Eliya spring season has got off to a slow start apparently because of high costs, a seasonal tug-of-war between two State bodies is adding confusion to a gloomy picture.

The Badulla road stalls which were given on tender by the Municipality have now been reinstalled on the Victoria playgrounds facing the Badulla road and business has started there. Meanwhile the Urban Development Authority has also given on tender the reservation area owned by it on the Badulla road.

The successful tenderer has also erected stalls and put up a notice that they are available on lease. This situation has caused a mild stir among the residents and traders who find that unlike in the past the stalls numbering around one hundred, are confined to a small area.

When compared with past years, the current season has failed to draw the large numbers of visitors who thronged Nuwara Eliya during April, going by the small numbers who have patronized the town during the past eight days. Residents hope that at least in the coming weeks the numbers visiting here would rise.

The town was a holiday resort during April, from the time of British rule. In 1978 the Government Agent stepped in to streamline activities during the festive season with the aim of developing the district. Since 1990 the task was taken on by the Municipal Council.

The aim apparently was directed to find money for the council, but even residents were able to make money by letting out their houses to visitors. Even public servants rented their quarters during the season while hoteliers too made big money from holiday makers. But with the Mahinda Chinthana gaining ground, it is doubtful if liquor would be served in public unlike the good old days, when pubs were installed on the highway.

Restrictions on liquor may deter visitors from being attracted here. Another factor is that with the cost of living going sky high the average middle class family cannot afford the luxury of spending a holiday here.

With the prevailing security situation in the country, around 800 policemen and soldiers have been posted in the town and its suburbs.

Amidst all these, it will be the poor man who will stand to lose, if the UDA and the MC are at logger heads.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.