Ranil queries what govt. doing for displaced Slave Islanders



By Saman Indrajith


UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday that the residents of 76 of the 323 houses demolished by the Urban Development Authority in the areas of Glennie Street, Station Lane and Stuarts Street in Slave Island in July 2008 were facing hardships.


Making a special statement, Wickremesinghe said the UDA had pledged to give some relief to those residents as per a Court Order. "Still, the residents cannot depend on such pledges because the Urban Development Authority has a record of breaching the trust of people through such unaccomplished pledges."


The Opposition Leader said that 323 houses had been demolished in the areas of Glennie Street, Station Lane and Stuarts Street, around Slave Island, in July 2008. Residents of 76 houses had not been provided with new houses yet. Even though five years had passed, they were still live in temporary houses in Weligoda, Colombo 15, he added. "Twenty houses, on Mews Street, in Slave Island, were demolished on May 08, 2010.  Thirty three families had been living for some 80 years in those houses as free-holders of those lands.


"These houses were demolished to construct a defence academy and pledges were made to the householders that they would be provided with alternative houses in the housing complex built on Baseline Road, Dematagoda, also with compensation. They were also promised Rs.12,000 per month as rental for houses. 


"No compensation has been paid even after a passage of three years since then. The Urban Development Authority has also refused to give houses in the housing complex on Baseline Road.


Now again, orders have been issued to remove 455 houses and 99 business places spread over 7.5 acres in the areas of Java Lane, Glennie Street, Leechman Lane, Justice Akbar Lane and De Zoysa Street in Colombo 02. 


These residents have been living on these lands for over 150 years as free-holders.


"The Urban Development Authority has pledged to give some relief to those residents as per a Court Order. Still, the residents cannot depend on such pledges, because the Urban Development Authority has a record of breaching the trust of people through such unaccomplished pledges.


"A city must develop. Still, the city dwellers should never undergo any punishment nor their life style be disrupted in the process, which should safeguard their future.


"If such a process is one of driving out the city dwellers, to be replaced by business persons, Government henchmen and foreign companies, it cannot be an urban development.


"These dwellers have now been ordered to evacuate the locations during the first week of December. Therefore, a number of children, expecting to sit for the O/Level Examination this December, are mentally affected. Where are they to move, approaching the examination? Will they get alternative houses? Are there sufficient facilities to come to the examination centre from such new houses? They are tormented with thousands of such problems.


"As I have pointed out previously, 99 business places will be removed in this process. What will happen to those business persons? Will they receive sufficient facilities to continue their businesses? Or else, what will be the future of the families dependent on such businesses?


"Certain dwellers in this area have willingly agreed to receive compensation and shift to alternative locations. Still, there is no arrangement even for them. They have been told that compensation can be paid only after a year more. 


"Therefore, I would like to ask the following questions from the government:


"When and where will the city dwellers, removed during the month of July 2008 and presently living in temporary abodes, be provided with permanent residences?


"Why are the city dwellers, removed during the month of May, 2010, refused houses in the housing complex on Baseline Road, Dematagoda? Will they be provided with houses in the Baseline Housing Complex? If so, when?


"When and where will the latest removed city dwellers be provided with houses?


"Why is the payment of compensation to the city dwellers, willing to receive compensation and shift to other locations, delayed by a year? What hinders their being paid the compensation immediately?


"What is the arrangement of the Government with regard to the 99 business places to be removed? What is the relief, scheduled by the Government, to be given to them?  Many of the businesspersons, engaged in such businesses, are residing around the location. Therefore, why are they not allowed to run their businesses in the same location? 


"Why are the children, in 455 such houses who are sitting for the Ordinary Level Examination not given some relief?


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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