The Making of a World Class City: Displacement and Land Acquisition in Colombo

The Making of a World Class City: Displacement and Land Acquisition in Colombo

CPA’s January 2017 report ‘The Making of a World Class City: Displacement and Land Acquisition in Colombo’ explores the process of making Colombo a world class city, begun post-war under the Rajapaksa regime and its continuity under the yahapalanaya government. The previous government’s Urban Regeneration Programme (URP), which is being continued by the present Government, aims to beautify the city and create a slum-free capital. This has, resulted in large scale eviction and relocation of the working class poor away from the city center. The rushed evictions under the previous regime paid scant regard to the rights of affected persons and to the practical impact of evictions on their lives including lack of access to services, loss of shared community, increase in physical and material vulnerability, disruption of education and loss or reduction in livelihood options. The continued lack of transparency and accountability is an overriding concern. The difficulties of obtaining information and in the language of the person affected and misinformation in attempts to prejudice the rights and interest of the affected family, continue to be the main areas of dispute with the Urban Development Authority. On the substantive questions involved there is a clear lack of state policy that accounts for and seeks to serve the interests of those affected. The lack of such policies compound problems arising out of a state-centric understanding of eminent domain, an expanding ‘public purpose’ in state acquisitions of land and the entrenched vulnerabilities of affected persons. This report also highlights the urgent need for the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy to be updated and enshrined in law. The need for national and provincial...
Living it down: Life after relocation in Colombo’s high rises

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

‘Living it down: Life after relocation in Colombo’s high rises’ is a report by CPA in November 2016 based on findings of a survey conducted with 1222 households in Colombo forcibly relocated by the Rajapaksa regime. The findings of this survey question many narratives created around the working class poor of Colombo living in “underserved settlements”. That the affected communities live in slums and shanties, in unhygienic, unsanitary flood prone environments surrounded by drug dealers are narratives that serve the purpose of a Government looking to “liberate” commercially valuable property in Colombo by relocating communities to high-rise complexes built by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in the North of Colombo since 2010. This survey builds on CPA’s work since 2013 on evictions in Colombo under the previous regime. The three complexes selected for this survey were Mihindusenpura, Sirisara Uyana and Methsara Uyana, all located in Dematagoda (Colombo North). The three complexes were selected because residents were moved there prior to November 2014 which meant that they had been living in the buildings for more than one and half years. 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. Unfortunately, even under the yahapalanaya Government and new management of the UDA we see no concrete effort on the part of the UDA to address the critical issues arising from...
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