Alienation of Lands by the Mahaweli Authority


SCFR 38/2005

The petitioners in the case (Environmental foundation Limited, Mr K.K.D. Perera and Mr. Ajith P. Dharmasuriya) have filed a case in the Supreme Court in the public interest against the Respondents (Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General of the Mahaweli Authority and Resident Project Manager of the Victoria Project) complaining of a violation of Article 12(1) of the constitution in the alienation of lands and granting permission for construction of building on such lands.

The petitioners stated that the lands that are subject matter of alienation and granting of the special permission for the constructor falls within the “special area” declared in the terms of Section 3(1) of the Mahaweli Authority Act No. 23 of 1979. The said land falls within 100-meter reservation from the full supply level of the Victoria Reservoir. The land in question also was found to fall within the “Victoria- Randenigala-Rantabe Sanctuary created under Section 22 of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (Cap. 469) as amended by Act 44 of 1964 and Act No. 1 of 1970. Hence the petitioners alleged that the respondents had alienated and granted permission for construction had been done in an arbitrary and adhoc manner in violation of the applicable legal provisions and guidelines.

Held: The court upon regarding all the facts and evidence present gave the following orders.

  • The 1st respondent has violated the Fundamental Right to Equality and equal protection of the law as guaranteed to the petitioners by Article 12(1) of the Constitution.
  • The court directed that a proper investigation be conducted by the 2nd respondent (Director General of the Mahaweli Authority) and suitable action be taken against the officials responsible for the unauthorized alienation’s and the granting of permission to construct buildings in violation of the applicable legal provisions.
  • The court held that no further allocation of lands in the subject area be made without following the procedure laid down under part IV C of the National Environmental Act No. 47 of 1980, and the regulations made their under.
  • The court also held that the guidelines contained in the document annexed marked as “P12” to the petition be followed in the future when granting permission for the construction of residential buildings.
  • The court also held that the 1st respondent should pay each of the petitioners a sum of Rs. 25,000/- as costs.