April 28, 2001

Rangiri Dambulla stadium sealed off in pay dispute


Anura Tennekoon, the Chief Executive of the Sri Lankan cricket board, will travel to the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Sunday to investigate the current rumpus over ground access and ascertain the current state of the stadium, which has been largely neglected since it staged it's inaugural One-Day International against England.

Sierra International, the main construction company, has reputedly sealed off the ground, refusing access even to the 40 workers from Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo, who have been appointed to manage the controversial venue.

The decision to seal off the ground has been made in response to a default in the payments by the cricket board. The Interim Committee has halted all payments relating to the stadium, as it investigates why the project has cost Rs100 million more than the approved budget. Sierra International have registered a complaint with the Dambulla police.

Tennekoon's will also have to placate a disgruntled Inamaluwe Sumangala, who is Chief Priest of the Rangiri Dambulla temple, which owns the land on which the stadium has been built. Sumangala has warned the cricket board that the 99-year lease is dependent upon strict conditions being met.

One of these conditions is that local residents are directly employed in the construction and management of the stadium. Sumangala is unhappy that, so far, local employment has been largely symbolic and thus feels the people of Dambulla are not benefiting from the project. Moreover, the decision to hand over the ground's management to a Colombo based ground authority will mean even less local jobs.