Centre for Policy Alternatives on 4 February, 2017

Behind the scenes: The making of luxury spaces in Colombo

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In 2013 – 2014, at the height of evictions and involuntary relocations across the city by the then Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, the community at Station Passage was always mentioned by other affected communities as a case where the relocation process was a positive one. The residents were going to have their new apartments built on the side of their existing property itself and were happy with the plans and were in constant dialogue with the UDA.

However, by mid 2016 the relationship with the community and the UDA had soured and the community’s new apartments were nowhere near completion even though the luxury mall that was being constructed on their property was being built according to plan.

When we visited Station Passage in September 2016 we were astounded by the fact that the families who remained on the land were living with the piling and construction work right next to their houses. Their houses would shake all day and cracks were starting to appear. When we asked them why they did not leave like their neighbours did they very simply said that that was not what was agreed. It was a precarious way of living but the residents were determined not to move.

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Read the full, immersive coverage of this community and their experience of urban development here.

The Microsoft Sway based feature is also embedded below.