THE CONCEPT OF MEGA CITIES: NEED INCLUDING FIVE CITIES WITH FURTHER EXPANDING AND DYNAMIC PLANNING
Posted on August 10th, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka stated at the final rally of the election, held in Hambantota that the government of that he will form, has a plan to develop four Mega Commercial Cities, Colombo, Jaffna, Trincomalee, and Hambantota. This concept needs expanding to five cities including the North Western Province, where is the best area to attract investment for tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture development. Later the project could be expanded to more cities such as Anuradhapura, Sothern Province, (Matara and Galle), Polonnaruva, and Sabaragamuwa (Ratnapura), and Central Province (Kandy).  If it leaves out Colombo, other cities have land for infrastructure development, especially for a network of roads connecting the entire country, Electric light rail systems, and development of water reserves for agriculture, controlling floods and reserving excess water, and hydropower generation within the area without depending on other areas. The significance of the project would be it will ignore the federalism and uniting the country integrating economic development. This system could be broadly defined as economic federalism and political and administrative unitary system.

The population of the country has distributed in cities (domains) containing ethnic diversities, despite the expected ethnic integration, there is an ability to mixing ethnic groups within the areas (domains). When five areas plan for development Sri Lanka could be easily removed ethnic and religious issues, and the country can be developed as an integrated community or a nation called Sri Lankans.  Politically, the implementation of the concept will eliminate small political parties that are primarily based on ethnicities such as Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala and nastic political philosophies such as JVP and Marxists, integrating all into one nation, which will support the country for an integrated nation, and one law for all ethnic communities with a strong cultural design. This process will remove personal laws such as Thesawalamai, Muslim, Kandyan, Mukkuwa, Buddhist Vihara, and Property laws. One criminal, civil, and administration laws will be applied to Sri Lankans as well as people living in the country from other countries.  This was been the difficult and gigantic task since independence in 1948. The political administration of the reign of Kings and Queens in history succeed one law for all and was able to maintain unity with one nation.

The concept of Mega Cities (domains) began after 1978, and the World Bank granted a small volume of funds for an integrated district development projects, but the project was unsuccessful mainly due to LTTE terrorists, JVP terrorists, and the apprehension politics of the ruling political movement. The project was purely focused on infrastructure development and to introduce information technology through education. The computer lab given to Southern people was destroyed by JVP terrorists. The actions to eliminate terrorism had been accomplished by the Rajapaksa regime, however, the yahapalana politics embarked after 2015 worked against the uniting Sri Lanka, and aimed to create a psychological condition of people that abases traditional values and cultural accoutres of Sri Lankan society. The result of the unity of reactionaries in international politics and domestic agents of international reactionaries, who were enjoying with bones and secret grants as believed by the mass community in Sri Lanka, was temporarily indisposed the expected development. People have been stimulated by the victory of Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019.

The presidential election in 2019 and the general election in 2020 seem, have eliminated reactionary forces and now people in Sri Lanka have a Herculean opportunity to unite the country and indoctrinate projects for economic and social development that is the desires of people. The effort of uniting the country should not be a political game and a genuine effort to develop the country with the unity of ethnic and religious communities.

The concept of Mega Cities would be a cradle to national unity and redistribution of the population that has been prime gist to create ethnic, social, and religious issues in the country.  This idea can be further interpreted that the nature of population distribution procured a ground for emerging and growing fertile land to grow ethnic, social, and religious issues, and the redistribution of the current population would be the point that should break the vicious circle of poverty and the cultural, ethnic, and religious enthralment of the country. The development and investments in various economic development-related projects will redistribute the population creating a new equation of population configuration if the Mega-Cities project will felicitous in the implementation process with massive job creation. The proposed project should not be relegated to the fate incurred to the district development project in 1978.

The proposed mega-cities (domains) project should absorb excess population from the Western, North-Western, Southern, and the central provinces to the Northern and Eastern provinces through the employment of people. This means when investment projects created with more employment opportunities people will come to the North and East cities and reside with families supporting the new equation of population distribution.  Although the current population apportionment seems or a reason to promote distorted racial attitudes of ethnic communities if the economic prosperity of people in the area and migrants from other provinces with the process of Mega-Cities development, new developments would eradicate the negative feeling of people.

The essential requirement to succeed in the aim of population redistribution will relate to education expansion providing three languages teaching in schools and giving more opportunities for kids to participate in a variety of education such as TVET, medical, engineering, information technology, and other areas.  The current education policy has, directly, and indirectly supported the division of communities on ethnic, religious, caste basis, and poor kids in North and East provinces have discouraged participating in language learning and skills learning.  The foundation political parties in North and East have used the current education distribution to stick people to their political parties and to promote ethnic and religious hate.  Providing equal education opportunities to kids would eliminate the vicious thinking or attitudes of all ethnic communities, Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslim, and support and brace the community together. The new policy promotes inter-marriages and creates a new generation.   

Many pass pupil associations in Colombo and schools in other cities might show opposition to the new policy, and many members of the pass pupil associations are politically heavy hands of all political parties that will work directly or indirectly against the policy of educating three languages in rural schools and providing medical, engineering, IT and TVET in rural schools.  Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka needs to understand these disguise reactions and the point that people have elected him to create a new society. Average people like to unite and integrate into the new education policy, they like to gain abilities to converse in three languages and mix through intermarriages. In Colombo and provincial towns Schools merging or acquisitions need to create synergy in school administration and to allow resources in schools to distribute and use of all students. If we look at Kotahena (Colombo 13) there are many schools which divided on religious, ethnic, and language basis, and merging these schools to a few coeducation units the new policy would save resources and expand quality and equity in education.

I have written many articles on the need for balanced growth in the country.  The concept of balanced growth had been a popular theoretical idea of the world since the ideologies of classical economists. Many developed countries have been able to allocate resources to country areas and achieve the concept of balanced growth giving justice to rural people.  It can be seen the mean earning of a person in rural and urban is closer and there is no feeling that urban people and rural people have divided. The concept of balanced growth has been ignored in many countries, and investments and markets have networked to urban areas. A significant reason for the inequalities in developing countries has been contributed by the attitudes of policy-makers.  Similar attitudes have /had UNP policy-makers and the new government of Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa must focus to achieve balanced growth. Regional people in wide Sri Lanka voted for Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna in the presidential election 2019 and the general election 2020 with hope achieving justice.

New mega-cities project should distribute investments in the city area and except Colombo city, all other cities could distribute investment throughout the area as one unit, and in history, Sri Lanka operated as integrated mega-cities such as Ruhuna, Pihiti, and Maya, there were no ethnic or religious issues in history. Inter-cities relationship should be maintained with a good input-output plan or an inter-industrial plan. The Inter-industrial plan supports for the production-based economy that generates employment opportunities for people in the area.

The COVID pandemic has created labour force related problems in developed countries and there will be a massive demand for educated and skilled migrants as many skilled people have become unemployed, who have less potential for reemployment, and developed countries would look for migrants with knowledge (qualified) and skilled. Future potential for skilled labour in developed and the Middle East countries would be higher and a considerable volume of qualified people will leave Sri Lanka during the coming decade. The other vital point is Middle East countries must offer high salaries to attract labour competing with developed countries and to successfully attract knowledged and skilled labour. The Middle East countries must offer higher wages but can those countries do it with heavily dependent economies on petroleum products.  This economic environment will challenge Sri Lanka because the labour forces of the mega-cities attempt to leave for green pastures in other countries. It would be a giant problem for Sri Lanka and the education reforms should be accelerated to provide quality technical and vocational education and training.  If it works well more foreign exchange will inward and the foreign reserves could be increase to the US $ 20 billion within six years.      

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