Eng. Suran Fernando  

UDA Regulations– Doing the Wrong Thing in the Wrong Way

Dear Members & Readers,

Engineers are one of the major contributors towards the process of urbanization in the country. Though we always speak about urbanization, our country does not have a well thought out policy on urbanization.

A country should have a proper Urbanization Policy at first place. Based on the policy there should be Development Plans and based on the plans there must be Development Regulations. The responsibility of establishing policies, plans and regulations related to urbanization lies with the Urban Development Authority (UDA). Though Sri Lanka does not have a policy on urbanization in place, we have development plans and development regulations. This fundamental issue of having operational mechanisms without a strategic platform has created many irreparable damages to the development of the country. Time has come for UDA to stick to its own vision Towards a planned, Sustained and Adored Urbanization and mission Promote Integrated Planning and implementation for the economic, social, environment and physical development of the declared urban areas. seriously.

The ‘Planning and Development Regulations’ developed by the UDA was first gazetted in 1986. Though there has been a series of minor edits time to time, there was not any major revision for the last 35 years. As the cities and construction industry of the country have developed to a greater extent during that period, there is no doubt that the ‘UDA Regulations’ needs a thorough overhaul.

UDA has gazetted its revised UDA Regulations two weeks ago.

In short, it is a disaster! The most awaited revised UDA regulations does not contain the expected revisions that enable the country to go forward when compared same with the outdated 1986 regulations. It contradicts with the UDA Act itself and some other prevailing Acts and regulations that are already in place. When it comes to the engineering related areas, it is a real chaos. Those were not done as per the recommendations given by IESL.

Initially, once UDA wanted to gazette the earlier version of the same regulations in 2020 December, IESL raised objections on the erroneous and very weak content related to engineering aspects in the Regulations. This version of the UDA regulations was done with no consultation with the stake holder organizations. The truth is that the ‘engineering content’ of the UDA regulations was done by the ‘City Planners’, at least not by Engineers working in UDA. I can assure that there is no single qualified engineer in the UDA editorial board to give engineering inputs as UDA’s traditional view is that ‘Planners’ know everything. The domination of City Planners (who have no science/ mathematics background both at GCE A/L and undergraduate level, in most of the cases) in UDA clearly resulted this disaster.

When IESL raised its concerns and requested more time for us to study the 159-page document initially in 2020 November, the UDA did not want to accept it. However, only when we raised its objections via an official letter, subsequent to our initial request, to the Chairman of UDA, with copies to the Minister and the State Minister of the Ministry of Urban Development & Housing, UDA became somewhat flexible to listen to the IESL. IESL, being a professional institution, did not stop only making objections but wanted to give its constructive inputs that will enable UDA to rectify its poor content on the engineering related areas. Click to see IESL correspondence>>

The President of IESL immediately appointed a subcommittee to study and submit a report with its recommendations. The subcommittee comprised of experts in fields of Traffic, Planning, Environmental, Electrical, Mechanical, Building Services and Structural engineering has done a thorough study and given a comprehensive report on its findings and recommendations. IESL submitted this report to UDA and requested UDA to include its recommendations to the UDA Regulations to correct the issues in their initial draft.

However, UDA acted unethically and unprofessionally and gazetted the UDA regulations in 2021 July without giving the due consideration to the IESL inputs. At least they have not forwarded the final version to IESL for review on its content. This is a serious breach of trust from the UDA end, as IESL has repeatedly requested UDA to submit us the final draft (prior to gazetting) so that we can review it.

Under such a circumstance, IESL as a professional institution is hoping to act wisely and do whatever possible to secure the professional and national interest. IESL is ready to do that.

Stay tuned & stay safe!

Eng. Suran Fernando
Editor, SLEN


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