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* Sri Lankan government to build 60,000 houses to relocate slum dwellers in the capital
Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 10:04 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 05, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government will build 60,000 houses to relocate the slum dwellers in the capital city of Colombo, a government minister said in parliament Wednesday.

The Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told parliament that the houses would be built as flats and the first phase of the housing project has already been started in Dematagoda.

Responding to a statement made by the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe under standing orders in parliament, the Minister said the slum dwellers would not be removed from Colombo city but they would be provided with housing at an alternate location.

The opposition United National Party (UNP) has accused the government of changing the demography of the Colombo city under the guise of development.

By moving out a large number of people from Colombo city the government is trying to impact the election voter base, UNP parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera told parliament Tuesday.

In replying to the opposition charges, Minister de Silva said that only the slum dwellers in the Slave Island area were compensated for removal and they also would be provided houses if they consent.

The Minister added that the small businesses removed from the Malay Street would be relocated in the ground and first floors of the housing complex built in Malay Street.

Government sources say nearly 54 percent of city's population is slum dwellers and they take up nearly 1,000 acres of prime land in the city illegally not only draining the resources of the city but also causing serious nuisance to citizens and impeding development.

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