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Issues and Proposals by Sectors

Problems for which answers have to be found through the Structure Plan vary from those that have been accumulated over the last 20 years to current issues such as industrial pollution, solid waste and sewage disposal, flooding and drainage and air pollution.

Development priorities in the past failed to recognise the importance of conservation. Today priorities have changed. For example, instead of converting wetland into buildable lands, which was the primary function of the SLLR&DC earlier, the conservation and protection of low-lying wetlands has now become a priority. At the same time, overall city-planning technology has become environmental conscious. `Sustainable Technologies' or 'Green Technologies' are new techniques that city planners now practice instead of conventional planning techniques. The concept of `Sustainable Cities', instead of 'City development at any cost', has become a universal standard.

Population

The population of the CMR in 1996 was 4.6 million and the projected population is 6.5 Mn. by the year 2010. In 1996, the CMR had a gross population density of 13 persons per hectare and it increase is expected to approximately to 18 persons per Ha. by 2010. During the same period, the share of the urban population of the CMR is expected to increase from 51 % to 74%.

Residential population density in the CMR was 35 persons per Ha. in 1994 and it is expected to increase to 85 persons per Ha. by 2010. The distribution pattern of residential densities by district varies according to the pattern of urbanization in different areas. Residential density in Colombo District is around 117 Gampaha around 35 and Kalutara around 33 persons per Ha. Efforts have been made in the structure plan primarily through zoning and proposed growth centers to evenly distribute this increase.

Land Use

The built up area in the CMR has increased from 3.3% in 1981 to 5.5% in 1996. The district-wise distribution shows that in 1996 about 17.6% accounted for the built up area in Colombo, 3.3% in Gampaha, and 2.2% in Kalutara. Agricultural lands, both highland agriculture and paddy fields, have been significantly reduced from 1981 to 1996. Area under coconut, for example, declined from 8.9% to 7.8%, rubber from 20.2% to 18.0%, and paddy from 14.9% to 12.43%. The major issues of land use in the CMR are the incompatible uses of the lands in the CMR, ad hoc conversion and fragmentation of highland agricultural lands for urban activities, increasing demands for reclamation of marshy lands and filling of abandoned paddy fields for building construction. In order to address these issues, CMRSP proposes the following:

- Identification of areas for concentrated high density development (growth centres, industrial towns, satellite cities, cyber cities etc. )

- Identification of green lung areas (marshes, paddy lands, flood detention cum recreational areas, etc.) which will be preserved in their current form

- Introduction of urban agriculture as major urban function

- Introduction of planning, zoning guidelines and development regulations for the CMR.

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