Illegal soil excavation in Ihala Madampella in the Divulapitiya Divisional Secretariat was the focus of Parliament yesterday with Social Empowerment and Welfare Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake alleging that illegal mining and excavation was taking place with the purported involvement of Opposition lawmaker Indika Anuruddha Herath.
“Nobody identifies me as Gravel Ranjan or Sand Ranjan. But the particular MP is known as Gravel Indika. His entire family is engaged in the soil and sand mining business. Now these soil thieves demand to know the total acreage of state lands. The illegal soil excavations have destroyed the Gampaha District. Approval was given for 500 soil cubes. I suggest Parliament check his assets and liabilities,” said Deputy Minister Ramanayake.
Responding to Deputy Minister Ramanayake by raising a point of order for replying an oral question, which has no direct relevance to his portfolio, Chief Opposition Whip Anura Dissanayake said: “The Minister of Land, Deputy Minister of Land, a Cabinet Minister or the Leader of the House can reply to this question for an oral answer.”
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, rejecting the point of order of MP Dissanayake, endorsed the actions of Deputy Minister Ramanayake by highlighting the Standing Orders of Parliament.
“According to Standing Order 27, when an oral answer to a question is required, the reply will then be given by the Prime Minister or the Minister to whom the question is addressed. The Prime Minister can assign the Leader of House also. But I have assigned Deputy Minister Ramanayake to reply on my behalf. I can assign anybody,” he said.
However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who was adamant that the House should follow Standing Orders and prior examples, urged members not to make a habit of the incident.
“Let’s not create new traditions but follow the Standing Order. I am unable to disregard the Standing Orders of Parliament,” he urged.
According to the Government, 924.36 hectares of land in the Divulapitya Divisional Secretariat Division belongs to the State out of which 12.9 hectares is given to the Board of Investment, 63.4 hectares to the Agriculture Department, 3.3 hectares to the Sri Lanka Army and 135.6 hectares to the Sri Lanka Air Force in addition to smaller pieces used for other public facilities by different State entities. (AH)