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Urban environment dedicated to a comfortable tomorrow, our aim – Minister

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Let us resolve to build an urban environment dedicated to a comfortable tomorrow by securing the national economy overcoming crises and challenges, Urban Development and  Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said in a message to mark the World Habitat Day which falls today.

The message: Owning a house is the wish of the entire human race. Today is the 37th commendation of World Habitat Day, which began in 1986 with the theme ‘Home is my right’, remembering the right of every citizen for shelter. In 1985, the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day.

As Sri Lankans, we are celebrating World Habitat Day today not only as a member country in the United Nations Human Settlements Programme but human settlements are a topic that should be discussed. Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka at that time suggested to the United Nations that a special day should be announced for human habitats. I also remember him with respect at this moment.

In the current global economic and social condition, ‘home ownership’ is a sensitive issue that affects the independence and freedom of a family. As a strategy to limit expenses and control income, there is a tendency to turn to an environment with facilities that are easily accessible to the workplace and children’s schools.

In this situation, we are faced with many problems such as informal settlements, inadequate infrastructure, housing shortage, property ownership issues, traffic congestion, air pollution, environmental pollution, health and sanitation, employment and limited land.

A “secure urban economy” should be established by studying the needs of the people who are moving towards urbanisation comprehensively. It is also the theme of this year’s World Habitat Day. Let’s make preparations from today to realistically face the crises that may arise in the future.

The programme to confirm the right to live in a standardised apartment for the urban poor people, which was stalled due to the economic crisis, has been how revived. New housing projects have been started at Tangalle, Ranpokunugama and Moratuwa.

Arrangements have been made to construct four apartment complexes in the urban areas of Peliyagoda, Dematagoda, Maharagama and Kottawa with the assistance of the Chinese government. The number of housing units to be built under the project is 1996. In addition, the construction of many housing projects that had been stopped due to COVID pandemic and the economic crisis have now resumed.

Home loan and assistance programmes are also underway. Attention has been paid to providing facilities for a safe urban economy in existing settlements as well as in the construction of new settlements. At this time when the local economy is recovering, it is a challenging task before us to prepare the mindset of the people as well as the environment to suit it.

On this World Habitat Day, let’s resolve to defeat crises, overcome challenges, secure the national economy and build an urban populace and environment dedicated to a comfortable tomorrow.

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