UDA kick starts 400 units of urban middle class housing project in Borella | Daily News


 

UDA kick starts 400 units of urban middle class housing project in Borella

State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness Dr. Nalaka Godahewa at the inauguration ceremony to construct 400 housing units at Elliot Place Borella.
State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness Dr. Nalaka Godahewa at the inauguration ceremony to construct 400 housing units at Elliot Place Borella.

State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness Dr. Nalaka Godahewa inaugurated construction of 400 units of housing at Elliot Place Borella.

Speaking at the inauguration, Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa highlighted the urgency of initiating such vital projects in order to serve the masses amidst the emerging threat of a COVID-19 second wave.

“Today everybody is scared about the COVID-19 threat. The entire Gampaha district, which is also my electorate, is locked down and curfew has been imposed. However, we can’t afford to postpone or delay our work as we are engaged in a race against time. Our ministry works day and night to ensure that we fulfill our promise to the people of this country. We will try our best to continue our work in the coming weeks ensuring the compliance to the guidelines of health authorities. I take this opportunity to thank all who extend their support for our endeavours despite prevailing challenges due to a threat of a second wave,” the Minister said.

Minister Dr. Godahewa further said, “Today we are initiating a very important part of our ministry’s mandate, namely housing development. The Government and the relevant line ministry have the responsibility of planning and implementing housing development in a proper manner when the country’s population increases. A national housing development strategy has to be in place to achieve this. Even rural housing might have to be condominiums when country develops and space constraints become inevitable. As we are aware, there are about 5 million housing units in the country".

“However 60% to 70% of those units are not fully completed. Some families don’t have a house at all. It is imperative that we formulate a systematic plan to solve the housing problems of our country. Several previous governments made various attempts to solve urban housing problem. It was President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who devised the most effective solution for this problem during his tenure as the Secretary of Urban Development Ministry.” Particularly, he was able to figure out a smart way to find land for housing development in the city. He identified about 1,500 urban settlements, which was mentioned by our secretary in his speech too. These settlements housed more than 68,000 inhabitant families and occupied more than 900 acres of land extent. It was possible to provide decent housing to the inhabitant families while getting more land released for other development projects.

“It was under this initiative, a 16.000 housing units project was initiated between 2011 and 2015. Out of 16,000 units 4,000 units were completed by end 2014. The balance was conveniently distributed by the last government on completion”.

“It is unfortunate that the project was not carried forward by the then new government which was elected in 2015. Only 450 housing units were completed.However, now we have revived the initiative after we came to power again and construction of 2,000 units have been initiated. We intend to continue this drive aggressively and increase the number of projects”.

He said the Prime Minister has given a target of building 100,000 housing units to Urban Development Authority under my ministry. Before end of the President's tenure, we are aspiring to complete construction of 36,000 units. It is this endeavour we are pursuing from today onwards. We want to offer decent housing options to low, middle income and upper middle income earning families in cities”.

“While we find solutions to housing problems, we also extend opportunities for construction companies in the private sector. It is the responsibility of the government to look into the interest of both citizens as well as the business community and entrepreneurs.

We leverage this housing construction drive to revive the local construction industry and intend to extend more opportunities to the entire industry ecosystem. When we synergize with the private sector, we would be able to exceed the 100,000 houses target by manifolds,” State Minister Godahewa said.

“However, our ministry’s responsibility is not limited to housing. Ministry scope is much broader and includes urban planning, city beautification, waste management, coast conservation and urban flood control.

A significant amount of work has already been started by my ministry. I am very happy that officials of my ministry have taken the ownership to move fast providing an efficient service to the public while eradicating corruption completely. We will take stern action for any violations of good governance and intend to leverage technology to minimize the room for corruption.

“One of the key requirements of the industry is to minimize the time duration to grant approvals for construction projects. This cannot be achieved instantaneously. Because we have to abide by the existing laws and work with multiple agencies.

However, we have set a target to minimize this period to three weeks and we want to achieve this as soon as possible. I can re-assure to the public that my committed ministry officials are doing their best to achieve these objectives. I would like to reassure that we would do our best to accomplish president Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s vision of Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour while paying highest attention to the guidance of our clergy,” the State Minister concluded. Ministry Secretary Sirinimal Perera, Urban Development Authority Chairman Harshan De Silva, Urban Development Authority Director General Prasad Ranaweera, Chairman Access Group and many others graced the occasion.