PM calls on officials to implement development projects as per National Plan

Saturday, 26 February 2022 01:25 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa reviews progress of Urban Regeneration Program, Support to Colombo Urban Regeneration Program 
  • Development Co-ordination and Monitoring Minister Namal Rajapaksa says national plan should not change for 10years even if administration changes 

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed officials of the Urban Development and Housing Ministry to implement development projects in Colombo and countrywide in line with the National Plan.

Speaking at a progress review meeting held at Temple Trees on Wednesday on the Urban Regeneration Program (URP) under the Urban Development and Housing Ministry and the Support to Colombo Urban Regeneration Program (SCURP), the Prime Minister in his capacity as the Urban Development and Housing Minister instructed to complete all projects for the low-income earners by the year 2024.

The objective of the URP is to transform Colombo’s low-income houses into apartments. 

Additional Secretary to the Urban Development and Housing Ministry Dr. M.M.S.S.B. Yalegama recalled that the implementation of housing projects to replace urban informal settlements began in 2010 when the Prime Minister Rajapaksa was the President, adding that they expect to build 50,000 houses.

Accordingly, 14,611 housing units have already been vested in the public, whilst another 5,590 houses are currently under construction, Dr. Yalegama informed the Prime Minister.

Urban Development Authority (UDA) Chairman Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Udaya Nanayakkara presented the progress of the first quarter of these programs and the expected headway for the coming quarters. It was pointed out that Kalinga Mawatha, 601 Watta (Stadium Village) and Kolonnawa housing projects are completed. 

The Prime Minister also inquired from the officials about the 300 low-income housing unit project in Wilgoda, Kurunegala. UDA Chairman also said that 1,996 houses have been sponsored through Chinese grants and these housing projects will be constructed in Dematagoda, Peliyagoda, Moratuwa, Maharagama and Kottawa areas, said Udaya Nanayakkara.

Attention was also drawn to a number of projects including the construction of 400 houses, 472 houses in Kimbula Ela and 600 houses in Maharagama under the Apple Watta Phase 3 in Colombo with the assistance of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). During the meeting, Premier Rajapaksa also inquired from the officials of the UDA whether a housing project is being implemented for senior artists.

The officials informed the Prime Minister that the relevant project is being implemented in the Kottawa area, where 108 houses will be built there for the senior artists.It was pointed out that the current rent from low income earners for a new house worth Rs. 6 to Rs. 7 million is around Rs. 1 million and that amount will be charged in as little as Rs. 3,000 per month for 30 years.

Development Co-ordination and Monitoring Minister Namal Rajapaksa pointed out that in the implementation of these projects, houses should also be provided for tenants on a rent basis.

“There are people living in rented accommodation for 20-30 years in urban areas. There are those who divide the house into two. Some keep these to send children to popular schools in Colombo district. Therefore, to remove informal settlements, at least 10% of these rental housing projects should be given to tenants as well. I suggest that it would be worthwhile for the Ministry to formulate the relevant criteria and submit a Cabinet paper for approval,” he said.

The proposals from Government departments and agencies, including Sri Lanka Police, to implement housing schemes and high-valued lands identified for these projects were also vetted during the meeting. 

“Our country must be developed according to a national plan that will not change when Governments change. We need a national plan that will be in place for at least 10 years. Hence, it is important to identify lands available and projects suitable for those to be implemented after thorough deliberations with all parties concerned,” Minister Rajapaksa said. 

He also emphasised that it was important to focus on plans to ease traffic congestion, building new school required, whilst taking care of the environment for sustainability. “We must also ensure that our development strategies are intact and sustainable in going forwards,” Minister Rajapaksa added. 

Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, Development Co-ordination and Monitoring Ministry Secretary H. Karunaratne, Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister Mahinda Gunaratne, UDA Director General N.P.K. Ranaweera and many other officials attended the progress review meeting on Wednesday.