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Sunday, 31 January 2016





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Government Gazette

The megapolis promise

The initial stage of the megapolis plan got under way on Friday with the launch of the structural plan for the Western Megapolis Development Project, the first of its kind in the country. It is is expected to be completed by 2030.

Ajita de Costa, Chairman of the Megapolis Planning Project (extreme left), Megapolis and Western Development Minister Chamipika Ranawaka, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Friday’s launch.
Pic : Sudath Silva

The launch marked the completion of the first phase of the mega development drive to be expanded in the next 15 years, with investments over 40 billion US dollars.

The flagship development project was launched in April last year, with the setting up of an office to make structural plans for the mega development drive, aiming to take the country out of the messy urbanisation trap and creating the much-needed spatial structure to achieve economic prosperity by 2030. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe marked the launch by planting a 'Na' sapling at Independence Square, symbolising the rise of the nation, similar to the growth of trees.

Although the plan was launched, the people are still in the dark about the mega development drive. Megapolis and Western Development Minister Chamipika Ranawaka said an urban area with a population of more than five million is known as a 'Megapolis' and transforming the Western Province with a population of six million into a well-planned enclave will get under way and will be known as the Western Region Megapolis Development Project.

Legal entity

Although the structural plan has been launched, the process is yet to be set up as a legal entity. A Megapolis Authority, similar to the Mahaweli Authority will be set up by an an Act of Parliament. The approval for the master plan is also expected to come from Parliament. "To complete this legal process, we have prepared the documents and would present it to Parliament during the first half of this year," the Ranawaka said. The implementation will include, investment briefings and lobbying for investments.

"These parallel activities have begun. We have begun lobbying for investments through the Transport Ministry, Highways Ministry and Provincial Councils for the implementation of the projects," he said.

The megapolis development drive is mainly to address the messy urbanisation issues in the Western Region, which was a setback. Addressing these issues will create the much-needed spatial structure for future growth, enabling high income levels and economic prosperity by 2030.

Blueprint of the Megapolis project ANCL Media Library

Issues of stray cattle and stray dogs to slum dwellers, waste management, housing and transport, directly related to urbanisation will be addressed.

"It is not a question of having the sitting room tidy, while the kitchen and toilets stink. It will not be an effort to decorate the city but to develop inner areas", he said.

Fine example

"They will be implemented as a single entity.The earlier development projects were also aimed at achieving economic prosperity but the difference is these projects will be implemented as a single entity," Ranawaka said. The inclusion of the Colombo Port City project as part of the Marine City is n fine example," he said.

The megapolis development drive will be different from earlier development projects. All projects will be implemented with the consent of the people and are aimed at achieving economic benefit.

"Steps will be taken to ensure a participatory approach," he said.

Projects with no economic benefit will be stalled. The floating market which is not economically viable will not be included. Jogging tracks, although beautiful do not generate any income and will be halted.

The Minister ensured that when contracts are being awarded, they will be given on a competitive basis."The Megapolis is based on economic prosperity, social justice, environmental sustainability and the people's quality of life.

"We will develop a zoning system to mark residential zones and economic zones," he said. According to the structural plan, zones will be demarcated for development projects.

Accordingly the Marine City which includes the Port City around the Colombo Port area, the Aero City in Katunayake and Minuwangoda, a Logistic City connecting Wattala, a Central Business District from Pettah, Slave Island to Kollupitiya, a Tech City in Homagama and Malabe, two Industrial Cities in Horana and Meerigama, two Tourist Cities in Negombo and Beruwala, a Plantation City in Avissawella, a Green City in Baduraliya, adjacent to the Sinharaja forest and an Administrative City in Sri Jayewardenapura will be set up.

The existing projects should harmonise with the structural plan. "Some will be included, while others will be rejected. Some will be reconciled with our new concepts. We will request rejected projects to change their scope and harmonise with the megapolis plan. The Port City Project is one such. "As people need an immediate solution for existing issues, there will be short-term solutions to address issues such as transport. These issues have been plaguing the country for some time. We plan to provide solutions by 2020", he said.

"Some people would have to be relocated and the government would provide solutions. The benefits are great and it will have a positive impact on the community.

As for the Mahaweli Project, it is a classic example of a project having a negative impact on the country, " he said. According to the structural plan, 150 projects have been identified and requires at least US $ 40 billion to be implemented in the 15-year period, from 2016 to 2030.

No economic return

The government is expected to invest on infrastructure development projects such as railway, highway, water supply and drainage.

"The previous government invested over US dollars six billion on the Hambantota District alone but there is no economic return. If they had invested that money in Colombo, there would have been heavy returns, "he said.

"The private sector could invest in housing projects for the middle class and develop commercial centres. We can give them the land for housing projects. Foreign governments too could invest.

"China and Japan are engaged in the Port City Project and in improving the Bandaranaike International Airport," he said.

"When President Sirisena visits Germany and Japan in the next two months, we will invite foreign investors to invest in projects identified in the plan. We will also invite India, Korea, China, the Middle East and European countries to invest," he said.


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