Candidates on spending spree for campaign

Despite Presidential order, pictures of President appear

It may be a local government election to a limited number of bodies, but that has not stopped candidates spending vast sums of money on propaganda campaigns.

In the municipal, urban council, and pradeshiya sabha areas where the poll is to be held, large cut-outs and posters have come up promoting the preferential number of candidates.

To boost their chances at the elections, many ruling party candidates have used pictures of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son, MP Namal Rajapaksa. Large cut-outs with their images have been put up despite an earlier order by the president that his photos were not to be used in propaganda material.

UPFA out to wrest control of 28-year-old UNP stronghold

By Shelton Hettiarachchi

A keen contest is on for the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council (NEMC) with the UNP trying to maintain its unbroken, 28-year-old hold on the council, and the UPFA trying to wrest control. Maintaining a clean environment seems to be the key issue in this NEMC election campaign.

Five political parties and several independent groups have filed 143 contestants. Former UNP Mayor Chandana Lal Karunaratne is contesting the post for the third consecutive time, while the UPFA has not named a mayoral candidate. However, former member Tissa Seneviratne, an ex-Mayor, and Bandula Seneviratne are among the hopeful mayoral candidates. Among the other UPFA key candidates is former UNP member Mahinda Kumara who crossed over to the UPFA.

The Ven. Makandure Rathanawansa Thera, ex-deputy mayor Hemachandra Perera, former UPFA council member H.A.D. Munidasa’s son Kumara Deshapriya, former members G. Suriyapperuma and Siripala Dayananda, MP Radhakrishnan’s son Ramakrishna Rajaram, Gamini Dissanayake, and M. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, are among the key contenders.

Residents in Nuwara Eliya are of the view that the city needs extensive development, being a tourist attraction.

The hospital, the playground, where work is currently stalled, the market complex and a sewerage system, are areas that need developing. A regular supply of drinking water, water for irrigation, a housing complex and environmental concerns, are the other needs that the council needs to seriously consider.

Candidates in race to solve garbage and roadside litter problems

Dehiwela-Galkissa LG polls

By Leon Berenger

Tax payers in the Dehiwela-Galkissa electorate face many issues and candidates on all sides of the political divide are as usual promising the voters quick relief when elected to power.

The issues include roadsides being strewn with litter by the thousands of visitors to the Dehiwela zoo, rotting garbage left to the elements due to the lack of an area for dumping purposes, non-availability of public sanitary facilities and the Sunday fair (pola) at Karagampitiya that has been held on the roadside through the years.

Mareena Abdeen Basheer, from the main opposition United National Party (UNP) has vowed to work towards solving these issues.

Lack of a parking area at the zoo force visitors to park vehicles alongside the road. Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

She says in the next UNP led Municipal Council the party will concentrate on providing a parking area for the hundreds of vehicles that arrive at the Zoo. “We will come to an agreement with a school in the area where the playground could be used for a make-shift vehicle park for a fee. This too will only be on weekends and holidays when the school is closed,” Ms. Abdeen said.

She concedes that more has to be done towards keeping the beaches clean since the area is touted as a tourist destination. “Although unauthorized dwellings on the beach are the responsibility of the Coast Conversation authorities the cleaning of the area should be seen to by the local council.

“We have drawn up contingency plans that would put into action a work force that would be deployed on the beach stretching from Dehiwala to Mount Lavinia and beyond, for a couple of hours.This is important since the tourist boom is back and many foreign visitors are expected to visit the area,” Ms Abdeen whose mother is a veteran UNP councillor said.

She said the disposal of garbage was an issue adding that at present there was no available space that could be turned into a dumping point. “We are looking at a five acre plot of land at Karidiyana in Attidiya and hope to acquire it at the earliest. The plan is to set up a re-cycling plant with foreign assistance and also look into churning out bio gas,” she said.

Former UNP parliamentarian and now mayoral candidate for the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) - Kesaralal Gunasekera-said his former party was good as lost at the upcoming polls.
He claims to be a “Mr. Clean” and challenges any one of his opponents or even those within his own party to say otherwise.

Mareena Abdeen Basheer Kesaralal Gunasekera

On the garbage issue he said collection was not properly supervised leading to dirt being piled up at various locations. However, he too conceded that at present there was no space to be used as a proper dumping site.

Supporting the idea of a recycling plant at Attidiya, he added the next UPFA Council would work towards this. He added that the litter problem outside the zoo could be solved if the Council and the zoo authorities worked together and came up with an effective plan where a work force would be deployed to clean the area on a daily basis.

As for the Sunday Pola on the road at Karagampitiya he said it was a part of the electorate’s history for it had remained in that location for generations. Mr. Kesarallal who is an accountant is also for a charter for the rate payer. “With this the Council would be accountable for the services rendered to the rate payer in keeping with the regulations and it will cut down on unnecessary delays and bureaucratic red tape. It will also give the public the opportunity to fight for their individual rights if they feel they are getting a raw deal from the Council,” he said.

“As the next Mayor of Dehiwala-Galkissa I intend to make the Council more people- friendly, offer an effective service, get rid of corruption at every level and concentrate on making the electorate a beautiful suburb,” he concluded.

Here a poster, there a poster, deface Kandy while candidates promise clean heritage city

Kandy LG Polls

By L.B.Senaratne

Posters of candidates for the upcoming elections are plastered on every conceivable area, in the heritage city of Kandy, like any other city bracing for elections, although candidates make grandiloquent statements of keeping it clean and upholding its historic and religious significance.

Ironically it’s the rate payers money that will be used to clean up all their faces, while they go from house-to house making promises. An ex mayor, UNP’s Kesara Senanayake has put out a brochure listing all that he claims to have done for the city and what he hopes to do. Pointing out that the heritage concept had no ‘teeth’ he says his first task would be to get an Act passed in Parliament regarding this.

A newcomer to politics, UNP’s mayoral candidate, former Diyawadana Nilame Neranjan Wijeratne said he would project the city as one with the country’s premier Botanical Gardens and one steeped in culture. He said he had a plan for the disposal of garbage and the setting up of a fund to grant scholarships for students and ensure the well being and rights of the ratepayer. He also said that he would streamline administration of the council and see that the least inconvenience is caused to the people in dealings with the Council.

Former leader of the opposition (UPFA) Sena Dissanayake and one time private secretary of General Anuruddha Ratwatte said he would foremost ensure transparency in dealings of the Council. Although the UPFA has not named its mayoral candidate for Kandy, he said as the team leader of the UPFA group he said he would see to the development of the rural areas and wipe out corruption in the council.
He also said he would set up a ' Think Tank ' consisting of professionals in the city and would tap their ideas on how to develop the city within the framework of a Heritage City.

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