The Centre for Policy Alternatives continues to document and support communities in Colombo who were forcibly evicted or relocated under the previous Government’s Urban Regeneration Project, which was carried out by the Urban Development Authority and the then Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. Thousands of families living in the UDA built high rises continue to hope that the new Government and UDA leadership will provide them with better solutions and justice for what took place under the previous regime, while their living conditions and quality of life worsen with time. CPA urges the UDA management to address the serious issues faced by families living in the high-rises at present and to have an evidence based policy making approach before relocating communities in the future. Thousands of new apartments are currently being constructed under the Urban Regeneration Project and the design of the complexes remain the same, despite the concerns faced by those already living in the older apartments. An open and consultative process prior to and after relocation is a must and key aspects to be looked into include addressing issues of compensation, impact on livelihood, entrance to schools and allocation of apartments. The UDA must also ensure that official documents are issued in both Sinhala and Tamil and that communities are given adequate time to read documents.
CPA also continues to call for the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy to be enshrined in law and for the Government to ensure that any development activities involving low-income communities are aimed at the substantial betterment of the communities in all respects. It is crucial that any process that involves involuntary resettlement be a people centered, consultative and participatory, bottom–up process that conforms to national and international standards.
This photo essay by Abdul Halik Azeez commissioned by CPA looks at the lives of residents in two complexes – Methsara Uyana and Sirisara Uyana. Located in Wanathamulla, these two complexes have around 1100 apartments in total and had families from all over Colombo relocated there in 2014.
The content, created on Adobe Spark, can be accessed here.