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Hon Dinesh Gunawardena was born on 2nd March 1949 to Philip Gunawardena (known as ‘the Lion of Boralugoda’) and Kusuma Gunawardena, both of whom were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence and equity.

He went to school at Royal College, Colombo and then went abroad for his higher education. He received a Diploma in International Business from the Nijenrode Business University, Netherlands and a BBA degree in Business Administration and International Transport from the University of Oregon, USA.

On his return to Sri Lanka in 1973, he entered politics through the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP). In May 1983 he followed in the footsteps of his parents, being elected Member of Parliament for Maharagama. In 1989, when proportional representation came into effect, he contested the General Election and was elected an MP for Colombo District. In 1994 he contested the General Election in the Colombo District once again, but was unsuccessful.

In the General Election of 2000, he was again elected to Parliament from the Colombo District. On 19thDuring his tenure the Ozone Summit was held in Sri Lanka solely due to his enthusiastic efforts. He prepared a Bill to restore the Ceylon Transport Board, doing away with cluster companies, but failed to see his dream realised while in office, due to a change in Government. Nevertheless, in 2007 the Sri Lanka Transport Board was reborn, in large part due to his efforts. October 2000, he was appointed Minister of Transport and on 14th September the following year also received the Environment portfolio.

In 2001 he was elected again from the Colombo District in the General Election, but the defeat of the PA meant that he once more sat in the Opposition. In 2004 he again successfully contested the General Election from Colombo District, through the United People’s Freedom Alliance, of which he was Vice President. He became Minister of Urban Development and Water Supply and Deputy Minister of Education on 4th October 2004, but resigned as Deputy Minister of Education a year later.

In February 2007, he was appointed Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Areas Development. The unique Kusum Nivasa project, under the newly established Urban Settlement Development Authority, is the brainchild of the Minister.

On 20 June 2008 he was appointed Chief Government Whip. He is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee of Electoral Reforms.