These are all critical issues that need to have been thought out because urban regeneration is not just about resettlement and freeing up land for development. There is a rewriting of the socio-economic DNA of these communities and there needs to be help to negate the shock to the body that comes from it this rewriting.
The speed with which evictions are underway in a post war setting with scant regard for rights and obligations should come as no surprise. Nor should we be surprised by the lack of regard shown towards affected communities, by the State, its agents, developers and the larger public. National security and development continue to be good reasons that justify the grabbing of lands in the North and East. Now with Colombo under siege, why would it change?
As many as 135,000 Colombo families, or 500,000 persons, could be forcibly evicted by Sri Lankan authorities, prompted by the country’s Urban Development Authority (UDA), according to a recent report by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), which cited official estimates as its source for these numbers.
Further, a media statement released by the CPA in tandem with the report, titled “Forced Evictions in Colombo – The Ugly Price of Beautification”, also signalled; “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”.