Monday, June 20, 2016

Aftermath of the Floods – A more permanent solution is needed

However no one has the political courage to make the necessary changes, which have been created by politicians in the first place, to satisfy their short term needs, at the expense of the Community, the people, the environment, and common decency. It is akin to asking the politician to admit he made a mistake and try to overturn his orders, in sufferance to the Govt servants who had to break the rules to bow to their masters!

Lets start with the History, where this area I have been visiting these past few days are at the edge of the Kelani River, which was used as brick kilns, supply building materials for the booming metropolis of Colombo. It created huge craters where the clay soil was excavated and just left when the industry was abandoned, to people who just came and built homes on what was left of the ravaged land.

Homes were built due to the population pressure of the movement of people from all parts of the Country to the Western Province for jobs but there was NO affordable housing for these migrants from Rural to Urban!

Over the years, to increase their voter base, politicians broke all the rules, gave these residents on flood plain and river bank squats, electricity, later water lines, and then even built concrete roads to their homes, thus legitimizing their stay, and moreover gave deeds, forged or not I am not privy to so they could sell and move to better areas, where other less fortunate people moved in buying at more inflated prices.

Much of the large clay pits are now used by fly tippers, making the stench excessive, and was a huge contributor to the garbage that was seen floating around the place, and now distributed all over like an enormous junkyard. Again no one has had the Courage to stop flytipping and fine people and imprison them for this, which is now a health hazard, causing dengue in the area as well.

I saw an army of public health inspectors, going to the houses to see if there are dengue breeding areas, when the flytipping dumps which are for all to see, should have been the first places to clean. As usual they are blind to the real cause, and innocent home owners are asked to cut down on their houseplants!

I am told a huge levee of 5 meters in height has to be built to prevent such floods in the future. If so thousands of people will be asked to leave these areas, and alternative accommodation will have to be provided. The reclaimed land MUST be immediately converted into public parkland, to prevent a repeat from the next generation of squatters as 400 people migrate to the Province daily.

The reality I am afraid is different, as no one has the political will or courage to make the changes drastically needed, and the Megapolis plan does not wish to address the real problem of low income housing, and clearing up the flood plains of people, in order to prevent Colombo from becoming just another slum, with the mass migration taking place to find employment in the Western Province which currently has a labor shortage in excess of 200,000.

In my opinion, a plan for 100,000 housing units, multi-story is needed in the next 10 to 15 years as a KEY input of the Megapolis plan along with a visionary transport plan, to move these and other urban dwellers SPEEDILY to their place of employment.

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