June 19, Colombo: Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera has appointed a six-member committee of experts on Monday (18) to study the facts regarding the removal of the Ministry of Agriculture from the DPJ Towers and take it back to the Govijana Mandiraya in Battaramulla, where it was located previously.
President's Counsel Nihal Fernando is the Chairman of the committee, while Senior Attorney Jagath Wickramanayake, Senior Attorney Asoka Weerasuriya, Former Assistant Auditor D. L. P. Dias, Civil Engineer Chandana Edirisuriya, Legal Officer, Ministry of Agriculture. G. Hector are the other members.
It has been noted that the building currently occupied by the Ministry of Agriculture is not suitable for the Ministry and over Rs. 21 million have to be paid as a monthly rent. The lease agreement will be terminated in five years and at that time the amount to be paid to the building would exceed Rs. 950 million.
Considering these fats, the Minister has asked the committee to take steps to look into a number of issues including the legality of the lease agreement, rent paid so far and other expenses, and legal capacity to end the agreement.
Minister Amaraweera has informed the committee to submit the final report and recommendations to him within two months.
Meanwhile, the Minister has also sent a letter to the Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya asking him to take measures to return the Govijana Mandiraya again to the Agriculture Ministry.
The Minister has pointed out to the Speaker that it is a national crime to use the DPJ Towers building for the Agriculture Ministry at such a high rent.