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Sri Lanka to crackdown on state land, marsh encroachment

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will not allow anymore encroachment on state land or illegal filling of marshland that has worsened floods and delayed urban modernisation, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka said.

Illegal seizure of state land in marshlands and along the coast was taking place regularly, and was done with the backing of politicians, he told a public forum on the government’s Western Region Megapolis Planning Project (WRMPP)

The project, covering suburbs to the north and south of the capital Colombo, intends to make most of the western province, which generates almost half the island’s economic output, into a more liveable region.

Ranawaka said a megapolis authority with wide powers will be set up to implement the project in which urban settlement and transport will be integrated and better planned.

 “When we set up the megapolis authority no one – whether rich or poor – will be allowed to seize land or marshland anymore,” he said. “We will implement the law forcefully.

”Everyone has a right to live in the city but no one has right to seize state land,” Ranawaka said.

Filling up of marshland and construction of makeshift homes by poor migrants over oil pipelines and railway track reservation land had worsened flooding in the city and delayed efforts to modernise the oil pipeline and rail networks.

“No one will be allowed to block common amenities by squatting on pipelines and rail track reservation,” Ranawaka said.
 (Colombo/December 01 2015)

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