Main opposition UNP is to oppose the Town and Country Planning Ordinance Amendment Bill in the provincial councils, party sources said yesterday.
Accordingly the party will oppose the Bill when it is presented to the Western Provincial Council today. The party had also decided to oppose it in other councils as well according to sources.
The Bill is presented to the provincial councils following the directive of the supreme courts that the Bill has to be referred to the council as per the Constitution.
Western Province opposition Leader Manju Sri Arangala told the Daily Mirror that the party had decided to oppose it as it is an attempt by the central government to take over the powers entrusted to the provincial councils. He said this Bill is contrary to the pledge the government had given to the international community that it is willing to go beyond the 13th Amendment to resolve the national issue. Mr. Arangala was referring to the recent reports that Sri Lanka has assured India that a devolution package which goes beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution would be implemented.
It was reported that UNP had decided to oppose the Bill following a request made by some minority parties; Mr. Arangala said the party decided to oppose the Bill on its own. “Our party assessed the situation and made our own decision,” Mr. Arangala said.
The Amendment gives the central government to take over lands within municipal and urban areas for economic, social, historical, environmental and religious purposes. The Bill says that its purpose is to promote and regulate a system of integrated planning and development for securing proper infrastructure.
The National Physical Council to be established under the provision of this bill will give effect to the objectives set out in this bill. According to the bill, it is possible for the authorities concerned to declare land areas as conservation areas, protection areas, architectural and historical areas and sacred areas.
The subject minister can declare a protection area within an urban of municipal limit for the protection of natural amenities and a conservation area for the conservation of natural resources and the protection of places of natural beauty. An architectural and historical area can be declared in such areas for the conservation of buildings of architectural and historical value.
The proposed National Physical Council has the power to prepare national physical policies and national physical plans to achieve the objectives of the bill. In the acquisition of lands under the provision of this Bill, it will not be considered whether there are buildings within them or not. (Yohan Perera)