- Colombo Development
Donor assistance is not needed to develop Colombo, an official told this reporter on Thursday (December 2). Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa under whose purview the Urban Development Authority (UDA) functions said that the recent UDA debenture issue alone raked in Rs. 10 billion.
He was speaking in the context of works such as Colombo’s ongoing shanty resettlement programme, dredging works of the city’s canals, building of reservoirs in flood prone areas in the city’s suburbs, demolition of unauthorized constructions and plans to build a sanitary landfill to dispose of Colombo’s non biodegradable waste that the Goverment is doing or planning to do.
Rajapaksa however said that the private sector will have to move in, to develop the land thus liberated.
Four hundred acres have already been freed, Rajapaksa speaking on the topic “Development Plan for Colombo City,” said.
Cities are the driving force of economic growth today, Colombo is the engine room of the country’s economy, he said.
It needs to enhance its image as the destination for tourism and investments, it needs more public parks and greening.
There is a need to increase hotel occupancy, develop IT infrastructure to entice foreign companies to set up operations here and have quality housing.
The navy is developing the canal system in Colombo, with 80% of such works already completed.New reservoirs are being made in Battaramulla and the reservoir at Peliyagoda has proved its worth in the context of the present day rains by preventing flooding. Water based activities could be developed in such reservoirs.
Signboards and billboards need to be standardized. Improvements to the road network are being conducted. The marine drive is being expanded. Improvements of waterways to provide ferry services are also being done.
Colombo has a population of over 650,000; while a further 100,000 daily commute to work, school and to obtain services in the city.
Colombo is also the island’s main developed city providing employment to more than 500,000.
He further said that Colombo’s development has to be integrated with neighbouring councils such as the Dehiwela-Mt. Lavinia and Kotte Municipal Councils.
Therefore there is the need for a single central authority, he said.
According to unconfirmed reports there are moves by the Government to centralize Colombo’s administration by divorcing it from the Colombo Municipal Council, and vesting it under a separate body.
Rajapaksa said the development of Colombo was first started by the British, with the setting up of the Colombo Municipality in 1865.
The harbour was built and in 1921 a city plan was drawn up. Parks were set-up under this programme and R.A. de Mel Mawatha (Duplication road) was built as a relief road to Galle.
Another development plan was drawn up in 1940, but could not be implemented due to a lack of funds. The 1949 development plan identified places such as Ragama and Ratamalana as satellite towns to be connected by a ring road. Rajapaksa made these comments at the seventh Sujatha Jayawardena Memorial Oration organized by the Colombo University Alumni Association.
Colombo University’s Arts Faculty Dean Professor Indralal de Silva in his speech said that Colombo in the last 100 years has increased by 53% in area. However its population during this period had increased by 430%.
As a demographer, he pinned Colombo’s high population density as its major problem.
Another was the growth of Colombo’s shanty population which comprised 51% of the city’s total population.
As a result Colombo is prone to flash floods, beset with illegal constructions, poor drainage and solid waste management, lack of land for development and poor sanitation.
Colombo should be safer, cleaner and greener, he said.