Colombo Municipal Council's 147th anniversary:
Largest Local Authority in SL
The Colombo Municipal Council which is the largest Local Authority in
Sri Lanka and one of the oldest in South Asia celebrated its 147th
anniversary on February 16, 2012. This Council was established in 1865
and it has grown into a large organization catering to the needs of a
resident population of 637, 865 according to 2001 census and a floating
population of nearly 400,000, covering an area of 37.31 square kilo
The Council is mainly responsible for the provision of services like
public health and curative services, solid waste management, maintenance
of roads, street lighting, water and drainage and veterinary services.
In addition to these, there are number of departments providing social
services, sports and recreation services, library services, public
assistance together with finance, rates, secretarial and training
departments. Further, the council is the highest policy and decision
making body and the Mayor who is an elected representative is the Chief
Colombo Municipal Council
Looking back over the past several years one sees that the physical
environment and the social fabric of the city has undergone rapid
changes. Although the Council's sources of revenue are limited and
inflationary pressures have been pushing up the cost of service, the
Council has managed to provide improved services without putting any
additional financial burden on the ratepayers.
In fact, there was a time when people of the calibre of Sir
Ratnajothi Saravanamuttu, A. E. Goonasinghe, Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr.
Kumaran Ratnam, V. A. Sugathadasa, Jabir A. Cader, Vincent Perera,
Sirisena Cooray, M. H. Mohamed, A. H. M. Fowzie, K. Ganeshalingam and
Karu Jayasuriya wore the mantle of the mayor of Colombo. Even there were
distinguished people like S W R D Bandaranaike, J.R. Jayewardene,
Bernard Soyza, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Peter Keuneman, H. G. S Ratnaweera,
L. W. Panditha and Haleem Ishak were elected as councillors by the
people of Colombo.
Indeed, all these men were City Fathers in the true sense of the
word. Further, in that era, the business of the Municipal Council was
conducted with efficiency and finesse and moreover, was second only to
Parliamentary proceedings. Those elected conducted themselves with
dignity and decorum both within and outside the precincts of the Town
Hall. They disregarded party colour and ideological distinction when
serving the people.
Mayor of Colombo
First elected Mayor of CMC
Sir Ratnajothi Saravanamuttu
The three brothers Hector, E. W. and T. G. Jayewardene were members
of this Council representing at different times the same seat (New
Bazaar) and also there were another three brothers - Sir Ratnajothi
Saravanamuttu, S. Saravanamuttu, and N. Saravanamuttu who were members
at the same time (1937-1942). Sir Ratnajothi was the first elected Mayor
and was the eldest of an illustrious family of Saravanamuttu brothers.
Born on October 1886, he had his education at S Thomas' College, Mount
Lavinia. He completed his medical studies in Madras and did postgraduate
studies in England.
Although he was well known in many homes in Colombo, especially in
Colombo North as a kind and skillful physician, his first love was
politics. He was a towering figure in the Post Donoughmore period. He
was also one of the Founders of the Independent Labour Party which later
merged with the Ceylon National Congress. He was Knighted in 1942.
V. A. Sugathadasa who was the Mayor of the Municipal Council from
(1956-1957, 1963-1965) entered politics as a Local Councillor in the
Colombo Municipality winning the Kochchikade ward as an Independent
Candidate. As a UNP Municipal Councillor he was elected as Deputy Mayor
in 1949 and Mayor in 1956 having ousted then Mayor Dr. N. M. Perera.
Sugathadasa was born on July 7, 1912 and received his education at S
Benedict's College and Ananda College, Colombo. He captained the
football team of both the colleges. The Sugathadasa Stadium at Prince of
Wales Avenue stands as a monument to his love for sports.
Vincent Perera entered politics as a Member of the Municipal Council.
He served the people as Mayor on two occasions. On October 1973, the
people of Colombo North elected him to the National State Assembly by a
majority of 17,236 votes. In 1977, he was appointed as Minister of
Parliamentary Affairs and Sports.
A. E. Goonesinghe, the pioneer of the Trade Union Movement in Ceylon
was the third elected Mayor of Colombo holding office in 1940. George R.
De Silva served as Mayor in 1943, R. A. De Mel served as Mayor from
1944-1946, R. F. S. De Mel from 1945 to 1948, Dr. Kumaran Ratnam in
1950, S. Sellamuttu in 1951, C. J. Grero from (1952-1953), J. Rudra
(1953-1954), Dr. N. M. Perera 1954-1956, M. H. Mohamed (1960-1962), A.
H. M. Fowzie (1974-1977), B. Sirisena Cooray (1979-1989), M. Hussain
Mohamed (1989-1991), Ratnasiri Rajapakse (1991-1997), K. Ganeshalingam
(1996-1997), Deshabandu Karu Jayasuriya (1997-1999), Omar Khamil
(1999-2002) Prasanna Gunawardena (2002-2006) and Livais Mohamed Imitiyas
William Gopallawa, former Governor-General and the first President of
the Republic of Sri Lanka served the Municipal Council as Commissioner
from (1952-1957). In 1939, he took up the post of Municipal
Commissioner, Kandy and later post of Municipal Commissioner, Colombo.
In 1958, he was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of China and in
1961 Ambassador to the United States of America. In 1962, he was
appointed as Governor-General of Ceylon and in 1972, he was appointed as
President of the Republic of Sri Lanka from which office he retired in
Indeed, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken great care to restore
and preserve several historical landmarks in the city which formed part
of the cultural heritage of the people of Colombo.