Sunday, 25 September 2011

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Badulla Municipal Council:

Badulla town limits will be expanded - UPFA Mayoral candidate



Upali Nissanka Gunasekera

There is a similarity between the Municipal election campaign launched in Colombo and elsewhere in the provinces. With only two weeks to go for the final countdown, the election fever has already hit a high pitch even in a distant province like the Badulla district. Badulla is one of the oldest Municipal Councils in the island set up in 1963. It has predominantly been a UNP dominated Municipal Council during the past four decades. The UNP dominance was broken by the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) when they were elected to office in 2006.

With the election campaign now reaching a climax, truck loads of party supporters with giant banners hung in their trucks were seen going about in different directions of the Badulla town, chanting party slogans and canvassing for the votes of people.

Nobody knows for sure which way the pendulum will swing this time as far as the Badulla Municipality is concerned. In fact we inquired from the people as to which party they were going to vote this time to elect a mayor of their choice. But our questions just fell on deaf ears and nobody commented. But when we spoke to the two chief candidates of the UPFA and the UNP, both were confident that they were going to win this time.

The United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) candidate for the forthcoming Badulla Municipal Elections is Upali Nissanka Gunasekera who was the former Mayor of Badulla. He is a past student of Uva Maha Vidyalaya who entered the Colombo University and read for a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Thereafter, he entered the law college and passed out as an Attorney-at-Law and commenced practice in Badulla in 1989. Somewhere in 2002 on the advice of Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva he contested the Badulla Municipal elections and was elected as the leader of the opposition.

But at the 2006 Municipal Council elections he secured the highest number of votes and was elected as the Mayor of the Badulla defeating the UNP after 43 years. Along with him ten others who contested under the UPFA ticket were elected as Council members. When Gunesekera assumed duties as the Mayor of the Badulla Municipal Council he faced numerous issues affecting the residents.

The most daunting problem was the garbage problem. Tons of garbage were being dumped adjacent to a nine-acre play ground which caused a foul stench in the area. To overcome the problem he sought the advice of experts and under the Pilisarana program launched by the Environmental Ministry and a sum of Rs. 6 million was invested on a compost plant at the same venue. Local personnel were given an adequate training with foreign assistance. Of the 21 Municipal Councils in the country, Badulla is the only Municipal Council that have the capacity to process 25 tons of garbage a day into compost. As a result we were able to solve the garbage problem that persisted for several decades, he said.

Another milestone of the Badulla Municipal Council during his tenure from 2006 -2010 was the upgrading of the Fire Department. "We had only one fighting vehicle. But today the Municipal Council is equipped with several fire fighting vehicles that includes bowsers, ambulances worth millions of rupees.

We also built two housing complexes at Kailagoda and Badulupitiya for minor employees with assistance from the National Housing Ministry.

Even the road net work is now being upgraded as in other parts of the country in keeping with the government policy.

A 10.5 kilometre road stretch is being carpeted in the Badulla Municipality limits " he said. The former Mayor said 175 roads within the Badulla Municipality is being renovated with concrete. Already 85 percent of the road network in Badulla has been repaired which is a record. "I have given priority to road development in Badulla during the past five years.

The few roads left behind will also be carpeted soon." When asked about problems facing residents of Badulla, the Ex- Mayor said that they have found solutions to most of their problems. He said he plans to build a sewerage system for Badulla if elected to office again. "The project is on the pipe-line" he said.

The former Mayor said another milestone for the Badulla town will be the development of a major playground in keeping with the governments policy.

Of the nine playgrounds in the country the Badulla playground has also been included in the list to be developed by the State.

The ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a new stadium will commence on the September 27, under the patronage of Minister Nimal Siripla De Silva along with the Minister of Sports.

The former Mayor said that he has a grandiose plan and a vision to expand the boundaries of Badulla town due to congestion and limited space. "Badulla being the capital city of the Uva province, a large number of people flock to the city to attend to various matters.

They include local and foreign tourists who visit the city to view historic places.

Badulla town is also a business centre as well as an administrative district.

The main offices such as the Kachcheri, the Registrar General's office and the main Police Stations are situated in the district.

We also intend building a housing complex for state officers in a 22-acre plot, " he said. In the course of the discussion with the Mayor, we also discovered that vehicle parking and pavements was another problem in the Badulla town. "A survey is being done to find solution to the problem. Finally we intend in beautifying the Badulla city in collaboration with the Urban Development Authority (UDA)" he said.


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