The Emerging Beautiful Garden City Of Colombo
This column dedicated to the notion of making Sri Lanka the wonder of Asia turns its spotlight today on the emergence of Colombo as a beautiful garden city as Sri Lankan society would aspire from the beautification of the cities in Sri Lanka.
It is the duty of the media or the fourth estate to criticise or point out the faults of the regime in a constructive manner so as to rectify such errors in the public interest and also to pay tribute when the regime engages in services beneficial to the society in order to encourage such services. This column wishes to express its gratitude to the Secretary of Defense and Urban Development. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his team of dedicated officers at the Urban Development Authority for the services rendered in transforming Colombo in to a beautiful garden city through the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project. The Secretary said that the ongoing development would see Colombo being transformed into a world class city that could be the centrepiece of Sri Lanka’s economic revival. He also said that at the same time, the Government would also develop cities and towns in the rest of the country but making Colombo a world class city remains a key priority of the Government. ( Ceylon Daily News, 12-03-2012).
The project envisages the creation of lush greenery and blue expanses of water existing alongside the built structures and mellowing the harsh urban landscape which has always being Colombo’s hallmark and the reason for it been called the garden city of the East by the 19th century British. The project is financed by the World Bank on a concessionary loan of USD 213 Million. Its aim is to make Colombo the pride of its citizenry. The objectives of the project are flood control and water front management, medium and small scale infrastructure development, institutional building up of local authorities, formulation of integrated strategic urban development plan for Metro Colombo and a feasibility study on solid waste management system.
The walls around the Cinnamon Gardens Police Station, Archives Department, the Race Course and many other government buildings have been demolished thereby improving their environment. Beire lake has been restored and linear and nodal parks have been set up. When one travels on the road behind the Temple-Trees the improvement is clearly visible with garden lights and garden benches being set up.
The Diyawanna Oya has been dredged and the road leading to the Parliament has been laid with pavements beautified with pink concreter terrace tiles. There are tall tress lining either side of the road giving shade. The land bordering the Diyawanna and the road leading towards the Water’s Edge Hotel has been planted with green grass and garden lamps and benches erected.
There are also tracks laid out for walking or jogging. In the evenings one can observe people including young couples seated on these benches and enjoying the clean and orderly environment. There are also boats with colourful sails sailing on the Diyawanna and one can obtain a boat ride for a fee. The playground near the Parliament is also being developed with a track running round the ground. The blue waters of the Diyawanna reflect the lights lit up on the further side of the Oya at night. It is really a beautiful sight, which helps to relax a stressful mind. The old Dutch Hospital in the Fort has been transformed in to a shopping arcade with many restaurants serving excellent cuisine. Creation of six lakes has commenced in the upper catchment area of the Parliament. There is new road erected behind the Parliament thereby easing traffic congestion. The soil from the dredging of the centres of the lakes are piled around the lakes thereby constructing the bunds which will be planted with green grass and garden lights and benches would be erected. These lakes would serve as catchment areas for excess water during the rainy season thereby preventing the flooding of the city.
There are also plans to improve the Town Hall square and to construct a water front recreational park in Crow Island. Pedestrian overhead bridges would be constructed at Bambalapitiya and Kollupitiya. Two lakes have been built near Talawatugoda Junction on either side of the Pannipitiya Road. There is a hawker market opposite the playground near the Parliament with stalls selling juices, hot dogs and various other items of food. During the evenings and nights these stalls have brisk sales. This column praises all the authorities who are responsible for these improvements to our city and calls upon them to keep up the good work.
As usual let me conclude with an amusing anecdote. Two businessmen went into a restaurant in the old Dutch Hospital in Fort and ordered two drinks. Then they produced sandwiches from their briefcases and started to eat .Seeing this, the waiter became agitated and informed them “Sorry, but you can’t eat your own sandwiches in here,” the two men looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and exchanged sandwiches.