Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake who has been in the spotlight these days for some of his acts spoke to Weekend Nation with regard to his intervention to stop environmental destruction in the Gampaha district and the clash with a divisional secretary that ensued.
Q: By now, most environmentally destructive actions which took place in the Gampaha district have been stopped. Your contribution in this regard has clearly become highlighted. Are you happy with this?
Truly. This is not my victory alone. This is a victory of the people. The people of Akaragama were facing great difficulties due to the sand mining in the area. The people told me about this addressing me as Mr. Ranjan, Minister, brother and son. This is why I intervened.
Q: It is being said that there are threats to your life as a result of the intervention.
I have always been involved in suicidal missions. When addressing problems such as the Middle East housemaids issue, the Avant Garde incident and the incident involving a strip of lane in Ja-Ela, I clashed with rich and powerful tycoons. As a result, I have always had threats. I have come to know that 48 persons have thus far been killed due to this sand mining. The last individual who was shot and killed was someone called ‘Pas’ Priyantha. This is not a normal thing but a game played between life and death.
Q: MP Indika Anuruddha has invited you to a public debate. Yet, he is alleging that you have absconded on taking up the challenge.
I need to get entangled in a debate with people befitting of me. I have no desire to enguaged with nobodies. Who are these people who are challenge me? One of them contested the Provincial Council election, was defeated, cried and stated that he would quit politics.
Just like a chief incumbent of a temple won’t debate with the temple’s helper and the Army Commander does not debate with the sentinel of a village, I won’t debate itinerant persons who sing songs here and there, persons who engage in sand mining which destroy the environment and people who obtain votes by deceiving the people.
Q: There is an allegation against you that while attacking one sand mining group, you are protecting another.
This is a complete falsehood. Dangolla joined the United National Party when he was facing an assassination attempt. As a policy, I safeguard no one. People who didn’t have five cents with them are travelling in Discovery type vehicles today and own 50 to 60 lorries and have become tycoons with properties worth billions.
Q: Aren’t the days numbered for you to apologize to the divisional secretary against whom you made allegations?
This too is a foolish thing. I would like to ask this official what was the wrong I committed. Is it that as the people’s representative of the area I exposed this corruption or is it that as the person who obtained the most preferential votes from the district, I went and inquired into the problem faced by the people who voted for me? On that day, I asked her whether she would wait until something is given in writing or was given in writing to take action if someone hit her in the face.
Recently, a certain television channel showed marshy land in Akaragama, Dehigahapallama, being reclaimed. Then, as if awakened from slumber, she made a statement that she would look into it. However, unlike from me, she did not ask for anything in writing from the channel.
On that day, I gave a call as the people’s representative. In actuality, in that instance, it is she who shouted at me. Rightfully, as the divisional secretary should have said that she too would come to the place and for the two of us to work together regarding this matter. Yet, she cannot say that.
Q: Yet, at the end of the phone conversation, you say that the divisional secretary should be hit by a bolt of lightning. Many say that such a statement was not befitting a people’s representative.
Even today, I maintain the same stance. Those who destroy the environment and those who aid and abet such crooks should all be hit by bolts of lightning. Back in the day, S. Mahinda wrote that a bolt of lightning should hit the Sinhala ethnic group. Our monks didn’t take to the streets against him. Why was this? It was because he told the truth. I have not told a lie. I pray for bolts of lightning for the devils who engage in illegal soil and sand mining, illegal mining and those who cut down trees, and those officials who help them in such endeavours. Am I wrong? People who are bad are the ones who are hit by lightning. The good ones aren’t hit. Therefore, if someone has committed no wrong, they have nothing to fear. If I am doing something wrong, these bolts of lightning will hit me.
Q: Is it true that your political career has been impacted by your interventions concerning such issues?
This is what I have faced since then. Anyone who knows my political character knows this. The people of Gampaha sent me to Parliament. Therefore, I stand on behalf of them. In this, I don’t pay heed to a colour, a party, the rich and powerful or to any of my cronies or family. This is how I will continue. I will not stop until the people who voted for me from the Gampaha district tell me to leave the thieves alone and to allow them to engage in continued thievery.
Neither the President nor the Prime Minister has made any undue influence on me with regard to these incidents. If I am given a Ministerial portfolio connected with environment, within a year I will end the environmental destruction taking place in the country. Today, the subject comes under the President. He is a humanist and a nature lover. That is why he took up the portfolio. I would also like to help him bring his wish to fruition. Yet, what I have to do now is to distribute wheelchairs and lenses for the eyes. I think that I can do something exceeding this
Q: Do you think that you can handle the responsibility of a portfolio relating to the environment, the subject of which is broad and vast?
Why not? Some may think that I am impulsive. When one should be impulsive, one should be so. Without doing so, it is difficult to work in this country. True, we must use our intelligence to think in a broad manner. I think that a successful politician is someone composed of all these facets. I love the environment. Various organizations from around the country are now calling me on various environmental issues. They request my support. We would be betraying the vote the people gave to us, if we don’t talk about the destruction in Wilpattu for fear that Minister Bathiudeen will become angry with us. Therefore, if the people of this country ask for my service and assistance, I will give it unreservedly sans discrimination whether it is for those in the North or the South, regardless of differences in party or colour. On behalf of the people, for justice and of the people I will appear.