Town and Country Planning Act stuck at PCs for scrutiny

The proposed amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act which has to have the approval of the Provincial Councils (PC), prior to being passed in Parliament, remains stalled with a majority of Councils still not approving the Bill.

The Western and the Sabaragamuwa PCs have already approved it, but several other PCs are undecided on whether to support it or not. Chief Minister- Central Province, Sarath Ekanayaka said that the passage of the Bill through Parliament would dilute the powers of the PCs. “The central government should have consulted the PCs prior to bringing such amendments,” he said.

Southern PC Chief Minister Shan Wijaylal said the SPC would take up the Bill for debate on Tuesday, and a decision will be made on that day, on whether it should be given the ‘go ahead’ or not. He too said that, it would be better if the PCs were kept informed beforehand on such laws, without suddenly sending them to the PCs for approval. North Central Province Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayaka said his Council too is in the process of studying this Bill.

The Eastern PC too has expressed its reservations about the amendments. The proposed laws have been met with resistance by some PCs, as it empowers the UDA to define protected areas, conservation zones or places of archaeological or historic value, in all parts of the country.

The amendments also propose the formation and implementation of a National Physical Planning Policy, with the objective of promoting, preserving, conserving and regulating a system of integrated planning, in relation to the economic, social, historic, environmental, physical and religious aspects of land.

The amendments will facilitate the acquisition of lands to achieve the objectives under the National Physical Planning Policy. The Amendment Bill was challenged in the Supreme Court, which said that it could only be passed by Parliament after the PCs give their approval for it.

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