By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Corresponded
In an effort to bring an end to pollution, congestion, and utilise an underdeveloped and poorly planned Western Province, the Government will publish a White Paper on 8 January 2016 to mark the first anniversary of President Maithripala Sirisena.
The White Paper will outline a plan to develop the Western Province, which has 4,000 Grama Niladari Divisions to meet the Government plan of establishing a Megapolis.
Joining the Appropriation Bill 2016 –Committee Stage Debate on the fourteenth allocated day, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka insisted large scale planning would be essential to streamline the urban sprawl of Colombo and its suburbs.
“There are over 500 beggars, 2,000 stray cows, and 16,000 stray dogs in Colombo city and the suburbs. There are 68,000 shanti dwellers in Colombo city. We need to solve these issues, including floods and waste management. The most serious issue is the road congestion. Two million people and 500,000 vehicles enter Colombo city on a daily basis.”
Revealing some parts of the proposed White Paper the Minister said: “There are no proper port cities in this part of the world. So, we plan to build a proper port city. But it is not what the Chinese are building now. Adding more to it, a proper airport city will also be built between the 18th milepost in Katunayake towards Minuwangoda. A technology city will be from Malambe to Homagama. Two areas – Horana and Meerigama have been selected for technological development.”
In addition tourism areas will be in Negambo. Special plans are being drawn to relocate the President’s House, Prime Minister’s residence, Presidential Secretariat, and Prime Minister’s office to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte within close proximity to the Parliament, Ranawaka noted.
According to the Minister, the Port of Colombo which was ranked fifth in the world during the British colonial era has now declined to 34th. “Unless action is taken to reap benefits from the economy, Sri Lanka will lose its chance of becoming a developed nation. Currently we are rated a lower middle income country. At the current economic growth rate it will take till 2045 for us to become a middle income country. But by that time we will have an aging population issue in the country. So, we need to reach this goal by 2030 following the plans of the Government,” he added inviting the fellow lawmakers and the general public to submit their thought and proposals to harness the Megapolis project’s potential.
Apart from the Megapolis, the Government will develop Kandy, Galle, and Jaffna cities by giving due recognition to environment and the global warming issues.