The Road Development Authority (RDA) has bulldozed a major part of the Colombo Swimming Club, including its historic pool this afternoon.
Krishan Karunaratne, General Secretary of the Swimming Club, told the Sunday Times that RDA officials turned up at the premises at about 2.30pm today along with backhoes, armed policemen and a court order noting authorizing them to demolish part of the club.
He said the RDA proceeded to demolish the structures, including the pool. “There were many foreign tourists in the pool and inside the club when it happened. Many guests were frightened and simply ran,” he recounted.
Mr Karunaratne charged RDA officials brushed aside appeals from club officials to give them sometime to explain the situation to their guests and avoid a complete panic.
Club officials had earlier been informed that part of the club, which had been built in the 1930s, had been acquired by the RDA to make way for the expansion of Marine Drive up to Galle Face.
However, Mr Karunaratne stated that they appealed to both the RDA and the Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLLRDC) and were under the impression their appeals were being considered.
Mr. Karunaratne also said while RDA officials were quick to demolish part of the club, no action has so far been taken regarding the compound of the US Embassy, which also comes under the area that needs to be demolished to make way for the expansion of Marine Drive.
RDA Chairman Nihal Sooriyarachchi however, said they had notified club officials as far back as a year ago that part of the club needed to go to make way for the road expansion. “They first told us they would clear the area themselves, but then tried in various ways to delay the action,” Mr Sooriyarachchi claimed.
He said authorities could not give “special treatment” to the club just because of its status and only acted as club officials did not follow through with their earlier pledge to demolish the structures that needed to go.