An audit of the ticket collections of the Udawalawe National Park on March 16, 17 and 18 has revealed a fraud running in to l akhs of rupees. The audit was carried out on a tip receved from the public. According to the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife this may be just the tip of a massive iceberg.
Following the discovery of the fraud in ticketing at the Udawalawe National Park, the government has commenced an investigation into the functioning of all wildlife sanctuaries in the country, Including ticket collections.
According to Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, W.S.K. Pathirathne, the fraud had taken place at the ticketing counter where tickets sold to foreigners had been noted in the books maintained as tickets sold to locals.
The rates of tickets for a foreigners is US $ 15 (Rs. 2250/-) and for a local is Rs. 60/-
Meanwhile, Media Secretary – Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Pabasari Waleboda said that a separate committee had been appointed in this regard following an order by Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera.
Waleboda noted that the case had since been forwarded to the Criminal Investigation Department and other relevant intelligence units for further investigations.
“Although this fraud is discovered as having been committed over three days, we assume that the entire fraud may be more, in the range of over rupees one million. These are public funds that have been defrauded. This is a major issue and therefore other national parks are also being investigated,” she explained.