By Rose Kenny
The new Sri Lanka Army Headquarters complex at Akuregoda, Pelawatte was declared open by President Maithripala Sirisena today.
The ten-storied New Army Headquarters, is housed in Blocks Nos. 6 & 7 of the new combined Defence Headquarters complex with Navy and Air Force wings and spans 77 acres in full. The Army HQ precincts is supplemented with state-of-the-art security system, office rooms, two helipads, accommodation facilities, vehicle parks, high standard restaurants, cafeterias and catering appliances, generators, water storage tanks, libraries, and all other facilities and is considered as the largest office building in Sri Lanka with office capacity for more than 4000 personnel. Ministry of Defence, office of the Chief of Defence Staff, Navy and Air Force Headquarters are also expected to move in here on a staggered basis once constructions are brought to completion.
The Main Building of the complex accommodates the Headquarters offices of the MOD, CDS, Army, Navy and Air Force.
The aditorium is located in a separate building block as independent towers, combined to form a large mass of a building complex. The Main Building except the Auditorium consists of 10 floor levels and has a total built-up area of 287,915 m2 that caters for 10,250 occupants. Apart from the Main Building, the Security Building located southward accommodates facilities for VVIP convoys and peripheral security of the DHQ Complex. The Communication Building located northward to the Main Building is equipped with modern IT provides the communication facility. The Station Officers Mess consists of 7 floor levels and caters for 1,597 persons, of which 545 persons are resident personnel living-in and 1,052 persons living outside the premises. Other Rankers Mess consists of multi-storied floor levels and caters for 10,250 persons, of which 6,100 persons will be resident personnel, living-in and 4,150 persons living outside the premises.
The ceremony was attended by State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene, Defence Secretary General Shantha Kottegoda, Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Acting IGP C.D. Wickramaratne and many other distinguished guests.
The new Defence Headquarters building complex which will house the Army, Navy and Air Force Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence is estimated to cost around Rs. 55 billion.
The Ministry of Defence, office of the Chief of Defence Staff, Navy and Air Force Headquarters are also expected to move in here on a staggered basis once constructions are brought to completion.
Marking this significant event, the Sri Lanka Postal Department issued a first-day cover and a stamp. Both the first-day cover and the stamp were then presented to the President, State Minister of Defence, Secretary Defence and Tri-Service Commanders in succession by S. M Mohammed, Secretary to the Ministry of Post and Ranjith Abeyratne, Post Master General attending the event.
Further, two new Presidential Medals, ‘Sewabhimani Padakkama’ and ‘Sewa Padakkama ’ were awarded by the President, in recognition of unblemished conduct and service in the past 10 years after 2009. Both Medals relate to outstanding service of Tri-servicemen, Police Officers and Civil Staffers who have rendered a dedicated service post war towards the development of the country maintaining excellent conduct and commitment. The President awarded the medals to representative recipients, including State Minister of Defence, Secretary Defence and Tri Service Commanders.
The final leg of the day’s proceedings included planting of saplings in the precincts by the President and the Commander of the Army respectively. The military personnel also took part in a group photograph together with the President and the distinguished guests.