August 24, 2019
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    March 19, 2019

    It is commonly accepted that the state of health, wealth and power of a nation is sensed in its physical environment. This in turn implies that a well-ordered, efficiently managed and effectively used physical environment is a vehicle towards the increased livability, economic prosperity and political stability of a nation. Therefore, a planned physical development is not an option, but a necessity, in Sri Lanka’s journey towards becoming a developed nation by 2030.

    The National Physical Planning Department (NPPD), with the necessary consultation of development agencies, regulatory authorities and the other relevant stakeholders, has completed the updating of the National Physical Planning Policy, and the National Physical Plan – 2050 for the territory of Sri Lanka.

    The main objective of the National Physical Planning Policy is to provide all development agencies with a broad national level guiding framework for the planning and execution of development activities, which will directly impact upon the physical environment of the country and to establish facilities, amenities and service related infrastructure incidental upon the development of the physical environment.

    The National Physical Planning Policy contains four main components:

    1. Conservation of the ‘Critical’ and the ‘Unique’.

          Considered the sensitive settings, water resources and the natural ecosystems for the long sustaining economy and the socio-cultural environment.

    1. Promotion of the ‘Livability’ for ‘Human’

          Considered the environments most appropriate for human habitation in terms of climate, availability of resources for basic needs and essential services.

    1. Optimization of the ‘Utility’ of the ‘Available’.

          Considered the optimum use of the available resources and infrastructure for future development and in view of the Sustainable Development Goals.


    1. Exploration of the ‘Potentials’ and the ‘Enhancement’ of the use.

          Considered the Human Resource locations: where populations with various skills and education levels are located resource locations: such have potentials for diversified developments.

    The Main Features of the Proposed National Physical Plan 2050, devised out of the said Policy includes the following main features:

    1. The Areas for Conservation:

    The ‘Central Fragile Area’ which is the geographic entity that consists of the lands with sensitive natural ecosystems, highly vulnerable to landslides and is crucial in terms of water resources. The conservation of critical land resources in these zones shall also be supported by a depopulation strategy. It is proposed to attract a larger share from the next generations (2020-2050) of the populations from these areas into the proposed economic development zones by

    means of more attractive employment opportunities, affordable housing and more beneficial and vibrant living environments.

    The Coast Conservation Zone, which includes the area for which boundaries have been delineated by the Coast Conservation Department under the provisions of the Coast Conservation Act No 57 of 1981.

    The ‘Agro Conservation Zone’ is a geographic entity with lands that are predominantly used for agricultural purposes, as defined by the Agrarian Services Act No. 58 of 1979 and Rubber, Coconut and any other type of Plantations which are situated away from the main urban concentrations proposed in this report.

    The ‘Water Conservation Zones’ include the areas those can have an impact on the long existing water cascading system, which includes the Large tanks, supplementary tanks, sedimentation tanks and small scale village tanks along with their water sheds and the feeding canals, mainly located within the Dry Zone of the island. The water bodies are mostly under the control of the Irrigation Department, but the associated lands are either under the control of the District Secretary or in the possession of private parties.

    The ‘Eco Conservation Zone’ is an entity with wetlands, catchments of irrigation tanks, streams and reservoirs, and the sanctuaries declared by the Wildlife Conservation Department, under the provisions of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, No 2 of 1937, and subsequent amendments.

    A ‘Forest Conservation Zone’ includes any area declared as a reserved forest by the Forest Conservation Department, under the provisions of the Forest Ordinance No 16 of 1907 and its amendments.

    1. Development Corridors, Metro Regions and Main Cities

    Future intense physical developments are proposed to be contained into four ‘Development Corridors’. In order to capitalize upon the advantages of the two major ports in Colombo and Trincomalee, the transport infrastructure and the favorable living conditions, a reasonably higher share of the future population (approximately 35-40%) of Sri Lanka shall be settled in lands that fall within the proposed East-West Development Corridor. The spatial extent of this corridor is defined approximately as the area within 05-10 kilometers (highest concentration), and 10-20 kilometers (medium concentration) and 20-30 kilometers (moderate concentration). Other Development Corridors are the Northern Development Corridor extending from Jaffna to Kilinochchi, the Eastern Development Corridor extending from Chenkaladi to Ampara, and the Southern Development Corridor that covers the areas of Galle to Tissamaharama including Embilipitiya.

    The studies show that around seventy to eighty percent (70-80%) of the population will be more than 60% ‘Urban’ in terms of the level of accessibility to urban facilities, engagement in livelihoods and lifestyles by 2030. Out of that population, at least sixty percent (60%) is expected to be concentrated within these Development Corridors. Such concentration is mandatory to meet the thresholds of viability for the investments on specific infrastructure and high-end urban facilities and to have the critical mass required for their sustainability.

    Two ‘Metro Regions’ are prosed in Kandy and Anuradhapura, with a relatively larger agglomeration of economic activities, secondary and tertiary sector employment and populations of 500,000 in each, and a gross residential population density of more than 5,000 persons per square kilometer.

    Nine ‘Main Cities’ are proposed in Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vauniya, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Nuwara Eliya, Rathnapura, Mahiyangana and Wellawaya. These are higher order service centers to their surroundings, and relatively larger concentration of economic activities, urban facilities and residential populations.

    1. Optimum Utility of available infrastructure and resources

    The scenario proposed for future developments in the Plan assures the optimum utility of already developed and the ongoing large scale infrastructure development projects such as the expressways, highways, railways, water supply and drainage projects and the communication networks. Rather than investing on new infrastructure which is always costly, the available facilities shall be used to the best to get the bets economic returns.

    The potentials exist with the lands, water resources and the human capital are to be captured within the areas of their availability.  

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