Right To The City Sri Lanka, an initiative by the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a think tank based in Colombo, aims to broaden the discussion and awareness on key issues concerning development, urbanisation, housing and displacement in Sri Lanka. Combining research, ongoing documentation, photography and video, the Right To The City Sri Lanka initiative will provide alternative narratives to the development discourse in Sri Lanka, with a focus on city making in Colombo.


The city of Colombo is home to more than a half a million people. However, some who call it home have time and time again had their right to live in the city violated. Colombo’s beautification post war removed thousands of people to the outskirts of the city and their homes demolished. Viewing their displacement as part of a development project only serves to hide the enormous social, public and human costs.


There are a lot of myths surrounding Colombo’s beautification project. Not everyone that is moved to the new high rise apartments live in slums or shanties. The new apartments are not given free. A lot of people who are affected actually have title deeds to their homes. Most people were forcibly evicted or relocated without due process being followed.


Right To The City was set up to inform you about the people who have lost their homes to make Colombo beautiful. This site shares some of their stories and their struggle to live in Colombo. This site is also a resource centre–you will find reports,research,videos and other documentation and analysis that bears witness to development induced displacement and evictions in the city of Colombo.



Cost of a 400 square foot apartment in a UDA high-rise according to previous government

Actual cost of an apartment in a UDA high-rise according to current government

Amount that has to be paid by each family to obtain a deed, including those who had deeds before eviction


Living it down: Life after relocation in Colombo’s high rises

‘Living it down: Life after relocation in Colombo’s high rises’ is a November 2016 report by CPA based on findings of a survey conducted with 1222 households in Colombo forcibly relocated by the Rajapaksa regime. The findings of this survey raises many concerns about the future of those living in the UDA high-rise complexes and demands a complete review of the URP. In less than three years of occupation, we see a considerable deterioration in the quality of life, income mismatch leading to debt, high expression of desire to move, disconnect with the built environment.

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Forced Evictions in Colombo: High-rise Living

The Centre for Policy Alternatives’ second report on forced evictions in Sri Lanka’s capital city looks at evictions that took place under the previous Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, where as part of its beautification agenda they aimed to create a slum free Colombo by 2020. The report discusses life after relocation to the high-rise buildings as well as the struggles of those still awaiting housing.

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Forced Evictions In Colombo: The Ugly Price Of Beautification

The Centre for Policy Alternatives’ April 2014 report “Forced Evictions in Colombo – The Ugly Price of Beautification” raises serious concerns with regard to the displacement of citizens in the city of Colombo due to the Urban Regeneration Project of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. It questions both the ostensible goals and purpose underlying the Urban Regeneration Project as well….

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Legal And Policy Implications Of Recent Land Acquisitions, Evictions And Related Issues In Sri Lanka

Land has a central place in the post war debates involving resettlement, reconstruction, development and the search for a political solution. With the ten year anniversary of the tsunami nearing and more than five years after the end of the war, many questions regarding land issues persist including continuing challenges to individuals being able fully….

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