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Citizens Call For More Participation, Transparency In Megapolis Plan

Picture courtesy wrmpp.gov.lk

A group of citizens, headed by Jayantha Dhanapala, Prof Savitri Goonesekara and Sunil Siriwardena have written to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe requesting for more transparency and public participation in the proposed Western region Megapolis Development Plan, including public consultation on legislation. The group also called for multiple agency coordination, the application of the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy, community driven housing solutions, and the prioritisation of public transport.

Below is the text of the letter, reproduced in full:

Letter from Concerned Citizens Regarding the Proposed Western Region Megapolis Development Plan

Honourable Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Colombo.

 

Dear Prime Minister,

We welcome and laud the National Unity government’s efforts to initiate an integrated approach to the planned development of the Western Province including Colombo. We appreciate the potential for national economic and sustainable development that is inherent in well-planned urbanisation. We also note that underlying the plan to develop the western region as a megapolis is the objective, outlined in your recent economic policy statement, of ensuring a “high level of economic activity, powered by global and local businesses that will have the opportunity to provide employment and the facilities needed to build and sustain an advanced level of living.”

We appreciate the initiative to seek people’s views and concerns regarding the proposed megapolis. Events such as the forum convened in Colombo on 30 November by the Minister for Megapolis and Western Region Development are most welcome, being a clear and refreshing departure from the practices of the past.

However, given the history of past attempts at such development, especially the experience in Colombo of the last few years, as concerned citizens we call on you to consider and commit to the following measures, which we believe are in line with the National Unity Government’s commitment to good governance:

  1. The process and structure for public consultation that will be followed across the western region.
  2. The schedule and sequencing of various activities including planning, consultation, review, and the phases of implementation.
  3. Measures taken to ensure complete transparency and public access to all information regarding the planning in all three languages.
  4. The sequencing and scheduling of major individual projects that make up the megapolis plan—it is especially important that public have prior knowledge of proposed projects.

We appreciate the urgency to launch specific measures and projects related to the western region as demonstrable evidence of benefits. We also appreciate your intention to base such initiatives upon a comprehensive urban development plan. However, we ask that you would first outline a comprehensive set of principles with goals, to guide some initial projects that may be commenced expeditiously while allowing time for a more comprehensive and participatory development and review of the plan as a whole, in all its detail.

Honourable Prime Minister, in the light of government’s repeated assurances of strong commitment to democracy and good governance we are hopeful that you will consider citizen’s participation, the concerns and issues we have raised. The Western Region Megapolis Plan is a unique opportunity to create a development scheme that is truly democratic in both its creation and application, and genuinely a ‘plan of the people’. We believe that addressing the issues we have raised will not only go a long way in ensuring wider ownership of the process but also more positive outcomes for the western region and the country as a whole.

We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest.

Sincerely,

Jayantha Dhanapala             Prof. Savitri Goonesekere                 Susil Siriwardena

For and on behalf of:

Prof. Amal S. Kumarage, Mr. Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Mr. Gamini Viyangoda, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Prof. Kumar David, Dr. Jezima Ismail Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, Prof. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Mr. Shibly Aziz, Dr. T.L. Gunaruwan, Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Danesh Casie-Chetty, Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Prof. Sivaguru Ganesan, Mr. Ananda Galappatti, Ms. Visaka Dharmadasa, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Mr. Faiz-ur-Rahman, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Ms. Anita Nesiah, Mr. Ranjith Cabral, Prof. Camena Guneratne, Ms. Anushya Coomaraswamy, Mr. D. Wijayanandana, Mr. S.C.C. Elankovan, Ms. Shyamala Gomez, Dr. A.C. Visvalingam, Ms. Damaris Wickremesekera, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda,

CC: His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka

Honourable Champika Ranawaka, Minister for Megapolis and Western Region Development

Honourable Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Deputy Minister for Megapolis and Western Region
Development