Our effort is to see a slums and shanties free Colombo in year 2020, said Mr. Weerasena Adikari, Senior Consultant of Urban Development Authority speaking at the weekly media briefing held at the MoD Media Centre yesterday (Aug 6).
He further said that due to the three decade long war except for some small scale projects no major development projects were carried in the country and with the dawn of peace a large number of development projects have been initiated in keeping with the 'Mahinda Chintana' policy manifesto with a view to make Colombo an economic hub of South Asia.
Elaborating on the ongoing urban development process he said that under the Colombo development project city beautification, road development, Beira lake development, urban sewage disposal, creation of urban open spaces, restoration of heritage buildings, and urban landscaping have been implemented.
Further he noted that, land areas occupied by the underserved settlements are approximately 900 acres in Colombo and over 65000 people are living under deplorable conditions. So far over 500 families have been settled at the recently opened 'Mihidhu Sethpura' housing scheme. Work on the 13 other housing schemes will be concluded before the end of this year, he added.
"The township concept has been adapted in initial plans and accordingly another set of 5000 houses will be completed in this year" he also noted. Further elaborating on the future plans he said that "plans are afoot to complete over 5000 houses during the next year".
Meanwhile, speaking on the method of relocation, Head of the UDA Project and Planning Division Mr. Priyashantha added that, slum and shanty dwellers will be resettled within close proximity to their original homes which would not hamper their livelihood. Explaining on the value of this gigantic project he expressed that an individual who protested against the project at the initial stage has now requested a new house after witnessing the positive change it has brought about.
The land area of 450 acres that could be freed through relocation of slums could be put to good use and also would attract large scale foreign investments to the country. These projects are will continue till 2020 as for the current programme, Mr. Priyashantha noted.