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29th March 1998

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Towards a livable city

The CMC has ambitious plans to give Colombo a new look while maintaining its old charm. Mayor Karu Jayasuriya talks about CMC's vision for the next millennium.

By Hiranthi Fernando

The residents of Colombo city can hopefully look forward to a cleaner, well kept city and a more effective service from the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) in the near future.

In recent months, Colombo has seen an improvement in cleanliness as well as several other aspects. Yet, many complaints are made by residents on inadequacies of services and inconveniences caused. Inefficient garbage collection, garbage dumping, broken roads, stagnation of rain water, blocked drains, flooding of roads and construction of unauthorised structures are among the complaints often image1highlighted in the newspapers. The Mayor of Colombo, Karu Jayasuriya says the CMC is taking steps to tackle the problems in a meaningful and planned manner with a view to making Colombo a livable city.

"When Colombo was built, the infrastructure catered for a population of around 150,000. Today, Colombo has a resident population of about 750,000 and a floating population of 400,000. Our first task is to create adequate infrastructure such as roads, water, drainage and other facilities for the city's population," Mr. Jayasuriya said. Since this has to be tackled in a systematic manner, Mr. Jayasuriya says a mission has been prepared for the duration of the incumbent administration which ends in the year 2002. In addition, together with the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, the CMC is focusing on a vision for 2005 and 2010.

"It is important today to streamline garbage collection, the drainage system, distribution of water, provision of facilities to low income groups and youth, and other services rendered by the CMC," Mr. Jayasuriya said. With regard to garbage, the mayor stressed that the Municipality alone cannot solve the problem unless the cooperation of the citizens is forthcoming. Household garbage is collected three to four times a week. Awareness of the need to act responsibly in the disposal of garbage and refrain from littering is very important. "I have seen people bringing bags filled with garbage in luxury cars, emptying the garbage on the roads and even taking away the bag. We are amending the Municipal Ordinance to prevent this kind of action," he said.

When asked about incinerators for garbage disposal, Mr. Jayasuriya said the CMC is looking into the possibility of obtaining incinerators for hospital waste. Further he said the CMC no longer dumps garbage in places where residents are affected. For household waste, a project sponsored by the World Bank, with the backing of the government is aimed to create a landfill at Padukka.

"Plans are afoot to completely rejuvenate the drainage system.The existing system is old and needs revamping. Orders have been placed for the equipment which is needed, Mr. Jayasuriya said.He added there is a common misconception that the CMC is responsible for the water supply. He said the Water Board supplies nine million gallons short of the total requirement of the CMC. The distribution of pipe borne water supplied from the headworks of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board as well as breakdowns in supply is handled by the Water Supply Division of the CMC.

Mr. Jayasuriya attributed the flooding of roads in the city largely to the haphazard filling of land without proper drainage system. Unauthorised constructions even over drains prevents cleaning of some drains which also leads to flooding. "We are tackling this problem in two ways. As a short term measure, the drains are being cleaned on a planned programme. In the long term, projects will shortly be implemented for storm water draining systems with assistance from the World Bank," he said.

"Unauthorised constructions are being dealt with strictly by the new administration. All new unauthorised structures have been demolished. We have a problem regarding the old structures which have existed with political patronage. An impartial committee has been appointed represented by the CMC, Urban Development Authority (UDA), Police and other related authorities with a view to resolve this long standing problem. The committee will decide on the structures to be demolished impartially," the Mayor said.

Speaking of the popular sea front promenade the Galle Face Green, Mr. Jayasuriya said that work on the green has been continuing for the last five years. The UDA which is responsible for this rehabilitation work has assured them the Galle Face Green will be handed over to the CMC during this year. A modern underground toilet facility gifted by a Japanese philanthropist will also be completed at a cost of Rs. Six million. The toilets will be built, operated and maintained by the donors.

Asked about the Vihara Mahadevi Park which is becoming quite an eyesore, Mr. Jayasuriya said that steps are already being taken to develop this park into a pleasant recreation place. The open air theatre is being reconstructed. The parking of school vans in a section of the park has now been stopped and rehabilitation work has got under way. Sathutu Uyana, the children's amusement park located within the Vihara Mahadevi Park is also being developed with modern facilities. Plans have also been made to convert the old Cotta Park at Borella into a tropical gardens and children's park within this year. "Parks are diminishing in the city," Mr. Jayasuriya observed."We are looking for more land to create parks within the city. Vacant land in the Colombo city will be converted into parks."

Beira Lake, now a stinking waterway with refuse floating on it, is to be revamped with assistance from the World Bank, says Mr. Jayasuriya. When the feasibility study is finalised this year, this project will be handed over to a contractor.

Looking around Colombo, one sees a number of new name boards have been put up on many of the roads. The mayor says the cost of these as well as the overhead boards coming up on Galle Road is borne by private companies, non governmental organisations and others. Twenty of the municipal dispensaries have also been rehabilitated at no cost to the CMC.

"We are indeed encouraged by the public goodwill and appreciation shown for the work done so far. The CMC has ambitious plans for developing the city while maintaining its old charm. Despite over 1.7 billion rupees outstanding from government agencies, we expect to spend over three billion rupees this year on development of the city and its facilities. It is a team effort on the part of the staff at all levels," the Mayor said.

Vipula's batiks for EXPO once again

Vipula Dharmawardane, master batik craftsman who was associated with the construction of the Sri image2Lankan stalls at previous EXPO shows from Vancouver to Tskba has been assigned once again to decorate the Sri Lanka stall at the forthcoming EXPO '98 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Headed by business magnate, Hubert Jayakody as the Commissioner General of the Sri Lanka Pavilion at the Lisbon EXPO '98, Prof. Nimal Silva has designed the Sri Lanka stall. EXPO '98 will have the curtain raiser on May 22 and will go on till September 30 1998.

image3Vipula, with his skilled craftsmen has done a Herculean task in turning out several artefacts in just 20 days, excluding the 100-ft. Kandy Perahera which was completed separately for an occasion of this nature. They also include two doorways of large dimension, sprinkled with brass ornaments on a reddish velvet back drop, four large symbolic lions of Sri Lanka in the traditional crouching position to take their places on either sides of the two doorways, the Bo-tree, in sober green on a 20-ft. banner to be hung between the two entrances and a statue of the Samadhi Buddha to be installed on a 6-ft. high pedestal.

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