Mysteriously destroyed Wattala walking track is being rebuilt in the same mysterious manner. Despite much pressure from the affected parties, civil society organisations and the media, nobody has yet succeeded to uncover the people who were physically involved in removing the track or the secret hands behind it.
Now, it has become clear that the walking track was located along the river bank which is state land and had been built with state funds and therefore, destroying it was tantamount to destroying state property which is a criminal offence punishable under the law. If anyone violates the laws relating to state property, under normal circumstances, police would not hesitate to arrest the persons involved. However, in this case despite much public focus on the matter police has not done their duty.
Some politicians were trying to indicate that the walking path had been constructed by the previous administration limiting access to the private land which was partially on the riverbank. If that is the case, removing that part of the track which obstructed the access to the private land would have been sufficient. Instead, the entire track has been removed while the obstructing part would have been a stretch of not more than fifty metres.
However, it is alleged that a powerful politician from the area and some former urban council members were involved in this dastardly act. The general perception was that politicians committing crimes and getting away with scanty regard for the law was a common feature under the previous regime and with yahapalana government chances for such behaviour was diminishing. Sadly, what we have witnessed at Wattala is just the opposite.
The other issue which begs an answer is that why is police scared of taking action against the culprits when they are now independent with National Police Commission in place under the 19th amendment to the constitution. Is inaction due to the traditional culture of fearing those in power or is it because Police Commission is not in fact effective and still there is room for politicians to meddle.
Another sad side of the story is that despite much uproar, not a single government agency including the police, Wattala Mabole Urban Council, Land Reclamation and Development Board or the Urban Development Authority has disclosed as to who has destroyed the track or who is now rebuilding it and at what cost.
The mere fact that the media has still failed to obtain these information indicates that there is an acute lack of information for the people and media too has been helpless in this regard. Whatever laws are proposed to enhance it, freedom of information seems to be non-existent in certain cases. What is apparent is complete lack of information or misinformation especially when powerful politicos are involved in wrong doings.Wattala walking track is the best example of this unfortunate situation in the country.