For a greener COLOMBO

5 October 2012 06:30 pm - 16     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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After having suffered thirty years of war, Sri Lanka today is reaping the full rewards of being a nation at peace. Tourist arrivals are on the rise, and the country has been chosen to host several significant international events. These include the 58th annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference that was held last month, the on-going Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled for 2013.
While fostering higher economic growth is critical in this context, it is important to recognise that there are a number of other areas in which significant improvements are being made. Urban development is one of these key areas.

The overall quality of Sri Lanka’s urban spaces must improve, and more facilities must be introduced to foster a good working environment as well as pleasant and relaxed living standards. We need to develop clean, green, people friendly cities. The environment needs to be preserved so that people can enjoy the beauty of this country’s natural greenery and abundant waterways.

The Metro Colombo Urban Development Project that has been undertaken by the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development is a five-year long undertaking financed through a World Bank loan that addresses a number of issues that have long troubled the city. Primarily, it will address the various flood and drainage issues that Colombo suffers from due to its rapid, organic growth over many decades. The city’s drainage infrastructure, including its micro drainage channels, primary and secondary canals and lakes will be improved. The long neglected Beire Lake will be completely renovated. Its gates, tributaries and output channels will be unblocked and improved, and the pollution that has been caused by unauthorised settlements and buildings will be addressed. Once the project is completed, the Beire Lake will be transformed from its present state to a worthy centrepiece for a revitalised city. The various improvements that will be made to the Beddegana Park under this project are also notable. The Green Growth Programme which is being carried out in parallel with the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project and funded through a World Bank grant, will protect the marshy areas in the metro region, enhance its biodiversity parks, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the eco-friendly nature of the city.



In terms of sustainability, one of the more innovative approaches taken by the Urban Development Authority over the past few years has been to transform historic old buildings on the verge of collapse into facilities with a new lease of life.

The concept of urban renewal is an important one that has many implications. In terms of developing the city, the improvements being made to the lives of people in underserved and unauthorised settlements are particularly noteworthy. These settlements are mostly on government lands in various parts of Colombo, with many of them being located on reservations set aside around lakes, canals, roadways and railway tracks. The settlements lack basic facilities and sanitation, their living conditions are bad and hygiene is poor. Their quality of life leaves much to be desired. Under the Resettlement of Underserved Settlements Project being undertaken by the Urban Development Authority, some 70,000 families living in poor conditions in Colombo will be given housing in high rise buildings designed and constructed to a good standard. These buildings will come up in close proximity to the original homes of these families, so that they do not need to find different jobs or send their children to different schools. The construction of 10,000 housing units is presently under way, and plans are in place to expand this number by a further 15,000 during the next year.

Keeping the city clean is another key criterion in maintaining urban spaces at a high standard. One of the major problems Sri Lanka faced earlier was that trash collection was not carried out properly and that there were piles of garbage building on various city corners.

The civic consciousness we have about preserving the environment is similarly crucial. People often talk about the importance of retaining greenery and the need to have more trees. Whenever the Government or municipal authorities improve roadways or improve the pavements, a conscious effort is made to plant more trees and improve the greenery. Unfortunately, many of the same people who talk about the need for more greenery are the same ones who put up billboards throughout the city limits. These billboards are eyesores that obscure the greenery of the city and detract from its natural beauty, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed comprehensively.

Another initiative that will help in this regard is the demolition of walls around public buildings, playgrounds and other public areas. Because of the war, a lot of walls were built up in all parts of the city.  These walls kept many of Colombo’s best architectural features hidden, and obscured the abundant natural greenery that is a hallmark of the city. With many of these walls having now been removed, the city now has a much more relaxed and open atmosphere.
By creating and maintaining greener, cleaner cities with more public open spaces for people to enjoy, and by improving the infrastructure available within the urban spaces, I have every confidence that Sri Lanka will be to make full use of its development potential and become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

I hope that organisations such as the Institute of Environmental Professionals will be able to contribute positively to these efforts by providing much needed input to the on-going public discourse. The Government needs the civil society to step forward with plans and ideas for improvements that can be made as the country goes forward.
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  Comments - 16

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  • upul Saturday, 06 October 2012 11:31 PM

    Why everything for Colombo and Tourists? Has the Government forgotten the poor village people who voted them in, in the first place?

    weha Sunday, 07 October 2012 10:02 AM

    Greener? dude all we see are pavement stones ne. either you should paint them green :P

    mohamed asfar Monday, 08 October 2012 10:37 AM

    dear sir, thanks to you for giving back the country to our children.
    do not mind those losers. beautification is a must and the first thing to do is no entry for 3 wheelers to the city limits. yes we can do it.

    silva Saturday, 06 October 2012 10:41 AM

    guess who is peaching

    K.C. Samara. Sunday, 07 October 2012 03:07 AM

    This man is mad. Our country has gone to the dogs for a long time.Who does he kidding.By tne look of things going on in the North,pretty soon another war is going to start. If it does blame the Mahinda clan.

    Nuwan savi Sunday, 07 October 2012 12:37 PM

    Please gota..put a stop to noise pollution commi g from buses in Sri Lanka....our plants will die forthe sound of them...like people killing each other to live a happy day...in Lanka is a challenge mower days...

    raviraj Monday, 08 October 2012 05:39 AM

    why as if the existing tax is not enough to do this cleaning job

    Kalana Sunday, 07 October 2012 05:41 AM

    First protect our forests, horton place. Provide peaceful environment to live people. People fear today than during war. Protect our culture, minimize waste, breach, commis. Act according to Law. Invest for Free education, Health, and Transport. Develop the country economically as well as humunity. Then you people will be automatically heros. Have you heared that Every action has a reaction. If you did good, you will get good return. Otherwise, same things will be happend as happened to others. Today Who cares Chandrika, If she would have done good to Country, people never forget. Learn from the Past and at least start now, still not too late. Actually very easy, not a big deal, if you have necessity. Two years enough to make this country good. People will worship if you people do good. otherwise you never get a good name. Though SF right or not, what you did was not correct. Nobody accept that.

    Mudalige Monday, 08 October 2012 06:58 AM

    Sir...please open up the roads.in fort mudalige Mawatha...chatam street...you know the army is closing all the roads...please we been suffering for the last 15years...come on man....

    Lole Saturday, 06 October 2012 12:00 AM

    I need a economically developed Sri Lanka.. after that lets see if we can grow some grass in roads.. :D via DM Android App

    dias Saturday, 06 October 2012 06:33 AM

    Levy a green Tax (Environment ) for vehicles entering Colombo and use this money to clean Colombo. please clean the Kalani river beds . and provide land for recreations. (Parks,Hotels, Water sports Clubs) we have confidence on mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksha.

    Pride of Asia Saturday, 06 October 2012 06:28 AM

    Greener Colombo with white van kidnappings, money extortions, releasing of thugs with criminal offenses, giving them visas to USA, harbouring hardcore LTTE carders such as KP, Karuna and Pillayan, not having time to solve the university crisis, encouraging the infuencing of court rulings, importing super luxury vehices to the country by opening a harbour in Hambantota, and plundering of bare lands of innocent people. Pride of Asia. I can imagine to what extent we have been fooled!

    Avi Vikum Saturday, 06 October 2012 04:25 PM

    When you take 40% of the Srilankan budget, greener colombo is not a good trade off for not having good education
    for poor, failure to establish law and order, rampant corruption,intimidation of judiciary,politicize military, extreme nepatism and list goes on and on.., You have a moral obligation to establish a good governance in SL as you all standing (and enjoying all the luxuries at public expence)on the grave of our valiant war heroes. You have
    misrably failed to do that so far.

    Hussain Saturday, 06 October 2012 05:22 PM

    I dont know about the greening of Sri Lanka But , yes its the green back [ dollars] in many peoples pockets that we all hear about all the while. .

    bernardwijeyasingha Saturday, 06 October 2012 05:58 PM

    Galle face Green could do with a line of Queen Palm trees to beautify that esplanade. It is a shame that Colombo 7 was decimated of it's historic mansions, broad blvds, and massive Oak trees that lined the streets. It should have been designated as a historic and cultural sector of Colombo.

    Proudlankan Friday, 05 October 2012 09:44 PM

    Whatever happened during the past 30 years while SL was at war we must not forget that in all wars around the world atrocities are committed.Even the US soldiers have done
    horrible,hateful actions which are their personal actions.Ex: burning korans,peeing on dead bodies, killing people without reason(civilians). The Indian Army was accused of rape
    in SL. I would therefore, like to remind us that peace is
    is always better.Let's reconcile as a nation SL has never
    had this kind of problems with their Tamil citizens. We all protect are rights.Rama came to get Sita because Ravana kidnapped her and brought her to Lanka.Let Indian Tamils stay out of our politics.We are inter- married into each other, we don't even look alike. Let this be a lesson to us.


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