Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development

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Urban Shelter


Urban Shelter
During the last few decades the living standards of under-served settlements in the urban areas, particularly in the Colombo metropolitan area, have dropped to the lowest level due to unplanned urbanisation. Slums and shanties have proliferated as the rural population streams to the cities in search of better employment and service opportunities.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development aims to identify the environmental and social problems of the urban poor and intervene in the development of urban settlements with partnership and a participatory approach to the beneficiary communities. The Ministry seeks thereby to create healthy, pleasant and environmental-friendly human settlements.

The Ministry attempts to provide shelter for poor under-privileged urban communities by replacing slums and shanties through self-sustaining housing programmes. This is done in symbiosis – either by taxation or by co-development – with commercial housing developments for upper-income groups.

Sustainable Townships Programme
The Sustainable Townships Programme was set up to use the market mechanism and the private sector in achieving its objectives, while relieving the state of the need for subsidy and funding.  It utilises private capital for the assembling and re-development of fragmented lands occupied by poor, under-privileged urban communities, who are thereby re-housed. Slum and shanties are hence removed and urban planners are assisted in their endeavours to plan for the future.


Real Estate Exchange (Private) Limited (REEL) is the institution solely responsible for implementing this programme.

Kusum Nivasa
The ‘Arunodhaya Kusum Nivasa’ programme was inaugurated by Hon Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Urban Development & Sacred Area Development, on 1st September 2007. Under this programme, poor, under-privileged urban communities are provided with housing facilities. In accordance with the principles of ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’, this is done with transparent, community-based participatory management, at the same time improving the mechanisms of local administration.


The financial resources for this programme are obtained by means of a levy, of 1% of the total estimated building cost, on all building plans exceeding 500m2 (5,000 sq. Ft) in floor area. So far, nearly Rs 500 million has been collected through this levy and spent on this programme. In the two years since the inauguration of the programme, some 3,500 houses have been built to replace slums, shanties and mud huts in various urban areas.
This programme is carried out by the Urban Settlement Development Authority (USDA).