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New head at corruption ridden UDA

Amid severe criticism of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) over irregularities pertaining to transfer of state land to outsiders over the past several years, an experienced public servant Sarath Weerakoon has been appointed the Chairman of the UDA.

Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardene made the appointment on Wednesday (24). Weerakoon had functioned as a ministerial secretary and Government Agent in Colombo and Puttalam during his career.

Dr.P. Ramanujam, Secretary to the Urban Development and Sacred Area Development had functioned as the acting Chairman of the UDA in the absence of a permanent head.

The Supreme Court recently faulted the UDA for its role in the hotly disputed Waters Edge and Attidiya Wetlands transactions. A well informed official told The Island that the UDA had brazenly acted in the interests of influential businessmen at the behest of politicians. The much discussed Supreme Court rulings on the UDA and Attidiya Wetlands deals revealed the extent of UDA’s involvement in corruption and irregularities at the expense of the government, he said.

Responding to our queries, the official speaking on condition of anonymity said that many corrupt deals worked out by UNP and SLFP politicians over the past decade hadn’t been investigated. "We are talking about mega deals and massive payments involving political heavyweights," he said, asserting that both major parties had exploited the system to the advantage of their associates.

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