Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday revealed that the Urban Development Authority (UDA) has invested over Rs. 25 billion this year, and rolled out a program envisaging a Rs. 200 billion investment to provide housing for shanty dwellers. The Minister made these remarks addressing a ceremony organised to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the UDA, held at the Sethsiripaya Administrative Complex in Battaramulla. Ranawaka said apart from the banks, no other State institution has invested in such a feat despite capacity.
“There has not been proper urban development in the country. Only about almost half of the country’s population has access to urban amnesties and facilities. However, only 1/5 of the population lives in urban centres, as per statistics given by the Census and Statistics Department,” he added. The Minister noted one cannot decide urban population based on city boundaries, which is why formal statistics show that almost half of the population deals with urban needs, urban capacities and has access to urban facilities, which has led to complications in the responsibilities of the UDA. According to him, the country has now gradually become an urban centre.
Noting that planned urban development promotes economic advancement of a country, the Minister stressed that formal city planning is a must if Sri Lanka is to reach higher financial status.
Ranawaka also said it is the Government’s sole responsibility to provide housing for slum dwellers living in Colombo city, where many projects are on-going.