Evicted Under The World Bank’s Watch

Evicted Under The World Bank’s Watch

Sway produced by Iromi Perera and Selvaraj Rajasegar for CPA in July 2015. ***** This is the story of 91 families from St. Sebastian South Canal in Colombo 12, Sri Lanka. In late 2013, they found out that they were going to lose their homes due to the rehabilitation of the St. Sebastian canal under the World Bank funded Metro Colombo Urban Development Project. The families had not wanted to move away to the new housing being given to them. Their new homes were in newly built high-rise apartments in the outskirts of Colombo and the families had instead asked for housing closer to their original homes so that their livelihoods and children’s schooling would not be disrupted. They had made clear their opposition to the proposed location at awareness sessions held in January 2014 by the then Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, the authority handling all development work in Sri Lanka after the Urban Development Authority was brought under the Ministry of Defence in 2010. The community had continued their opposition to relocation and even voiced their concerns at the site office located in the community, which was also functioning as a grievance redress mechanism. However, they suffered the same fate as thousands of other people who were forcibly evicted from their homes by the Urban Development Authority since 2010. In September 2014, the 91 families shifted to Methsara Uyana, an 11 storey apartment complex with 718 apartments, officially declared open on October 27 2014 by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. View full feature on...
Forced Evictions in Colombo: High-rise Living

Forced Evictions in Colombo: High-rise Living

The Centre for Policy Alternatives’ second report on forced evictions in Sri Lanka’s capital city looks at evictions that took place under the previous Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, where as part of its beautification agenda they aimed to create a slum free Colombo by 2020. The report discusses life after relocation to the high-rise buildings as well as the struggles of those still awaiting housing. The rush to relocate communities to high-rise apartments was not done with the uplifting of people’s lives foremost in mind, but with the intention of freeing up property with high commercial value. What made the Urban Regeneration Project of the Urban Development Authority more problematic was the means used to acquire land. Military force, intimidation and harassment were used to evict people from their homes and the process did not follow Sri Lanka’s laws related to land acquisition. Communities were relocated to high-rise buildings in Dematagoda and Wanathamulla where today they face many hardships. Residents are forced to pay Rs 1 million for the apartments over a period of 20 – 30 years. They are yet to be given deeds to their apartments and there are restrictions on selling, renting and mortgaging the apartments, which means that a source of financial security has been taken away from them. The lack of space is a serious issue faced by most people. The ‘one apartment per house’ policy means that today in some apartments there are up to 14 people or more and that some families have been forced to live on rent, elsewhere, simply due to lack of space. The report also looks...
Forced Evictions In Colombo: The Ugly Price Of Beautification

Forced Evictions In Colombo: The Ugly Price Of Beautification

The Centre for Policy Alternatives’ latest report “Forced Evictions in Colombo – The Ugly Price of Beautification” raises serious concerns with regard to the displacement of citizens in the city of Colombo due to the Urban Regeneration Project of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. It questions both the ostensible goals and purpose underlying the Urban Regeneration Project as well as the means and processes employed by the UDA and the Government of Sri Lanka to realise them, in particular those pertaining to land acquisition and involuntary resettlement. Drawing from interviews with affected citizens from across different parts of the city and short case studies of the experience of three different communities – Java Lane and Mews Street in Slave Island and Castle Street in Borella, the report outlines the major issues and concerns with respect to the forced evictions in Colombo. Of particular concern are the involvement of the military controlled UDA in forced evictions, the modalities of which are similar to those employed in the North and East of Sri Lanka, and the scale which, according to some estimates, could even dwarf displacement in Northern Sri Lanka during the final two years of the war. The report also argues that viewing the forced evictions in Colombo as part of a development project only serves to hide the enormous social, public and human costs. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) believes that in the process, a range of existing domestic legal and policy safeguards and standards are being flouted with impunity. The report underlines that respect for domestic and internationally recognised...

Legal And Policy Implications Of Recent Land Acquisitions, Evictions And Related Issues In Sri Lanka

Land has a central place in the post war debates involving resettlement, reconstruction, development and the search for a political solution. With the ten year anniversary of the tsunami nearing and more than five years after the end of the war, many questions regarding land issues persist including continuing challenges to individuals being able to fully enjoy, access and use their lands and reside in their homes, due to restrictions placed in the name of security and development. Furthermore, Sri Lanka has a complex framework for legal and possessory rights, covering both State and private land. This framework is meant to provide tenure security for individuals residing and using the land and safeguards to prevent arbitrary displacement and eviction. The legal and policy framework, despite its shortcomings and the need for reform in specific areas, is a basic starting point of a governance system as well as constituting recognition of the rights of those owning and in possession of land. Unfortunately, present practices and recent policy decisions undermine the framework in place and demonstrate a deliberate disregard and/or ignorance of what is in the books. These challenges are highlighted in the present brief with recommendations provided for immediate reform. Download...
From Shanty To Home

From Shanty To Home

The Centre for Policy Alternatives continues to document and support communities in Colombo who were forcibly evicted or relocated under the previous Government’s Urban Regeneration Project, which was carried out by the Urban Development Authority and the then Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. Thousands of families living in the UDA built high rises continue to live in hope that the new Government and UDA leadership will provide them with better solutions and justice for what took place under the previous regime, while their living conditions and quality of life continue to deteriorate. This photo essay by Abdul Halik Azeez commissioned by CPA looks at the lives of residents in two complexes – Methsara Uyana and Sirisara Uyana. Located in Wanathamulla, these two complexes have around 1100 apartments in total and had families from all over Colombo relocated there in 2014. The size of an apartment is 400 square feet and families have to pay one million rupees over thirty years in order to get a deed. This is irrespective of whether families had deeds to their original location or not, and those who did have deeds were not compensated for their acquired land. Visits to the two complexes for this photo essay took place in late May 2016, a week following the floods. View full...