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HRC issues notice on Municipal Commissioner

2013 Nov 26

By Ariyaratne Ganegoda



The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRC) has directed the Municipal Commissioner, Bhadrani Jayawardhana of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), for the second time, to explore the possibility of finding alternative accommodation for the 68 fishmongers who had been evicted from the St. John's Fish Market, Pettah, and report back to the Commission, in person on 26 November (Tuesday).



An earlier order given to Jayawardhana by the HRC to be present before the Commission on 16 November, had been ignored by her, and she had instead sent two clerks of the CMC with the message of her inability to find alternative accommodation for the 68 fishmongers at the vacant abattoir premises at Dematagoda, Colombo 9, as suggested by the HRC.



The Commission, after noting her response, had questioned the two municipal clerks, asking if the Dematagoda abattoir was not suitable or if the CMC had made arrangements for an alternate venue to accommodate the fishmongers. Reportedly, the clerks had said that they had presented themselves before the Commission at the request of the Municipal Commissioner and convey her message and they are otherwise unable to express an opinion on administrative matters.



Thereafter, the HRC had directed that a notice be issued on the Municipal Commissioner, expressly stating that she is required to be present on 26 November, to personally answer questions in this regard.



Under the Colombo Beautification Project initiated by the Defence and Urban Development Authority, the vacant St. John's Fish Market had been earmarked to put up a state-of-the-art complex while the evicted fishmongers were to be given alternative stall space at the new fish market at Peliyagoda.



However, a certain politician with immense political clout had reportedly ensured that these 68 fishmongers, who had been traditionally engaged in selling fish, are deprived of space in the new Peliyagoda Fish Market. As a result, this group of fishmongers is said to be leading a hand-to-mouth existence as they have no shop space in either place to conduct their business.



As the legitimate owner of the former fish market and the lessor of the stalls leased out to the fishmongers, the CMC is obliged to, and also is legally bound to, provide its lessees at the fish market with alternate accommodation to continue with their trade, a senior member of the CMC told Ceylon Today.

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