President orders crackdown on registering of underage marriages

By Indumathi Jayasena

On a Presidential order, immediate action is to be taken against marriage registrars who record marriages involving underage persons.

The directive follows a District Development Council meeting yesterday at which President Mahinda Rajapaksa was informed that a number of teenage girls in the Polonnaruwa district have been given in marriage. Marriage registrars should be aware of the law, President Rajapaksa said, adding that married couples in the Polonnaruwa district were entitled to state land, but this was no reason to encourage marriages involving underage females.

The President also noted the district’s high number of school dropouts, and called for a programme that would help reduce the number of students who leave school before completing their secondary education. Seven per cent of the children in Polonnaruwa do not go to school. “Officials should encourage children to go to school,” the President said.

A complaint about intensive sand mining in the area was also heard at the meeting. Heavy vehicles coming from Colombo carry away tons of sand, with no benefits to the local councils or residents, the President heard.

These sand-carrying vehicles were also a road hazard. At least 30 persons have been killed in accidents involving these vehicles, said officials, adding that roads were being damaged by these vehicles.

A private company is behind the intensive sand-mining operation, and three state institutions are involved, the President was told.

“The company should be responsible to the Treasury,” the President said. “I will see to it that the company is brought under the Treasury, after consultations with the Attorney-General.”

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