Western Region Megapolis

The Western Region Megapolis is an urban planning, zoning, and development area stretching from Negombo in the north to Beruwela in the south, and was formulated as a project aimed at creating a planned megapolis in Sri Lanka's Western Province by 2030.[1]

The Western Province where most of the Megapolis is situated

The master plan was created by Surbana in cooperation with local experts. The plan hopes to create a Megacity that can match other economic hubs such as Dubai, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo and solve the issues of traffic congestion, garbage, slums, and environmental pollution.[2][3][4][5] The main goals of the project are for economic growth and prosperity, good governance, creation of an efficient and well-planned region, social equity and harmony as well as environmental sustainability.[6] The project includes Social Infrastructure development such as housing, healthcare, education, spiritual development, Safety and security, Transportation and traffic Management, Airports and port development, Water and Energy related infrastructure development as well as the development of SMEs, Industries and tourism.[7][8]


The conceptual plan was initially mooted in 1991 by the then young Sri Lankan Industries, Science and Technology Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He made a presentation in the presence of the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, with the objective of getting Japanese assistance to implement the Megaproject. However, development of the concept came to a halt with the change of the government in 1994.[9] In 2004, Singaporean HDB's design subsidiary CESMA created the Western Region Megapolis plan. When Wickremasinghe returned to power and the proposal was submitted to the Board of Investment(BOI), however, the fall of the government again stopped the project. His successor Mahinda Rajapaksa abandoned the plan but implemented piecemeal recommendations of the project.[10]

After returning to power in 2015, Wickremasinghe requested Surbana Jurong, the successor of CESMA to revise the plan to suit the newer needs.[11][12] The Megapolis plan was unveiled in a ceremony with Prime Minister Wickremesighe, President Maithripala Sirisena and Megapolis and Western province development minister Champika Ranawaka.[13] in 2016 Siemens signed an MoU with the Ministry of Megapolis to provide solutions for smart cities.[14]

Notable DevelopmentsEdit

Colombo International Financial CityEdit

The CIFC is a planned offshore city adjacent to Galle Face Green in Central Colombo built on reclaimed land. It is touted as an international financial center and funded from Chinese investment; the city will have a separate legal and financial system which is likely to be governed by the Chinese firms that control the land, though the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka still has the final word on law.[15]


The megapolis project has several proposals for transport development. Plans include modernized bus service, an electrified railway system, modern Rapid Transit System (RTS) and an inland water transport system for a new boat/ferry service that uses Colombo's historic canal network, a new urban expressway system, and improvements to existing roadways.[16] Transport-related related projects identified by the Master plan of Western Region Megapolis Planning Project are implemented under the Transport Development Project (TBD)[17]

A new rail-based Rapid Transit System will be introduced in the Greater Colombo area. Bus, taxi and school transport systems in the region will be restructured and modernized. Bus stations and terminals will be upgraded. A transport information and analysis centre is proposed in the project master plan.


Upgrading stations, rail tracks and signaling, communication and ticketing systems, introduction of new rolling stock are proposed. Electrification of existing lines and several new lines are also proposed in the project. The main lines to be modernized and electrified are,[18]

  1. Panadura - Veyangoda - Polgahawela (RL-M1) -110 km (85 km within WR)
  2. Kelani Valley (KV) line (RL-M3) -60 km
  3. Ragama – Negombo line with new airport Access (RL-M2) -26 km
  4. Kottawa to Horana (RL-NR1) –22 km
  5. Kelaniya to Kosgama via Biyagama, and Dompe (RL-NR2) - 30 km

the first three lines already exist while the last two are proposed to be added to the net work in the future. The feasibility study on the Panadura–Veyangoda line has been proposed under the Colombo Suburban Railway Project under ADB assistance and as of April 2016 the Ministry of Transport has commenced shortlisting the consultants for the feasibility study.[18]

The introduction of mag-lev high-speed rail has been proposed by the High Speed Railway Corporation (Pvt.) Ltd (HSRC). It would connect Negombo in the north to Colombo 3 in the south.[19]

Rapid TransitEdit

A Light Rail Transit (LRT) system serving the designated Western Region Megapolis area within the Colombo District, Sri Lanka. The project will consist of seven elevated and surface-level tracks to cover the main public institutions in the city and the suburbs. Japan International Cooperation Agency agreed to fund the project and is assisting in the feasibility study.[20][21] As of early 2017 Expressions of Interests for consulting services for feasibility studies have been called.[22] And in November 2017, the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development signed with a South Korean company, Seoyoung Engineering, to begin feasibility study of the project, and the planned construction in Colombo and its suburbs is to commence in late 2018.[23]

The project is to be carried out in seven phases, the first phase would see the Light Rail system running from Malabe to Fort, with all seven phases covering a total distance of 75 km.[23] The seven phases are listed below:

  1. Green Line (RTS1) - 15 km - Fort-Kollupitiya-Bambalapitiya-Borella-Union Place-Maradana
  2. Yellow Line (RTS2) - 11.5 km - Fort-Maradana-Mattakkuliya/Peliyagoda
  3. Red Line (RTS3) - 10 km - Dematagoda-Borella-Narahenpita-Kirulapone-Havelock City-Bambalapitiya
  4. Purple Line (RTS4) - 10 km - Borella-Rajagiriya-Battramulla-Malabe
  5. Pink Line (RTS5) - 9.6 km - Malabe-Kottawa
  6. Olive Line (RTS6) - 6 km - Malabe-Kaduwela
  7. Ash Line (RTS7) - 13 km - Peliyagoda-Kadawatha


The plan proposes to revise the route network to enhance efficiency and convenience, reform and restructure public bus service and institutions, initiate express bus services using intercity expressways, deploy smart bus service with low floor kneeling, air conditioning, and on-board IT and improve facilities at suburban bus terminals and stands.

The Lotus Tower was touted as being the modular hub for a citywide BRT service during its construction, although the accompanying monorail service has been replaced with a LRT, and little information has been released about the future of the BRT service.


There will be new boat services to enhance west-west connectivity as well as to promote eco-tourism during night hours. Three main routes have been identified which are,[18]

It is proposed to be launched as a public-private partnership.[24] A boat service between Battaramulla and Nawala began in December 2016.[25]


Expanding and extending existing key roadways and improving existing urban roads and intersections as well as building elevated roadways from New Kelani Bridge to Colombo Fort area, the Port and Battaramulla[6] Flyovers are also being built as an interim solution for traffic congestion.[26]


International AirportEdit

An expansion of Colombo International Airport will see a new terminal being built and construction has started in 2017.[27]


The plan proposes the expansion and modernization of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery, new natural Gas power plants and conversion of existing petroleum based power plants to natural gas and conversion of overhead voltage lines to underground insulated cables, exploration of natural gas reserves in Mannar, development of clean energy such as Solar and Wind power as well as waste-to-energy power plants.[8][6]

Planning areasEdit

The project is divided into 11 planning areas in terms of geography and economic potential. Each with its own zoning rules and regulations,[28][29]

1. Aero City Zone: Katunayake

The Aero City, will involve development of airport infrastructure including upgdrading the Aerodrome of the Colombo International Airport, New Passenger Terminal, Aero-City BusinessPark, Airport Hotel an International Convention Centre, a second runway the BIA and the development of an Aero-City Residential Township in Minuwangoda[7]

2. Tourism & Environmental Corridor: Muthurajawela

3. Industrial City: Meerigama

Situated in Meerigama aims to industries in Pharmaceuticals, electronic products, Edible products manufactured out of the cultivated agricultural products, Ceramics, glassware of the mineral based products, Cosmetic products manufacturing and provide location for SMEs that will support such industries. The project is aimed at creating a livable city for migrants from rural areas to settle in Mirigama without moving to Colombo which will result in the area attracting real estate developers for workers attracted to the employment zone to develop quality housing, schools, healthcare facilities and other social infrastructure.[6][7]

4. Industrial City: Horana

The Industrial City occupies approximately 85 km2 of existing towns and scattered villages.It is planned to attract large scale industries in Tyres and tubes, electronic products, Pharmaceuticals, Edible products manufactured out of the cultivated agricultural products which are scattered around the Western region without proper industrial infrastructure. The area was selected due to land availability and connectivity via the north south highwayNew residential townships will be created to provide affordable housing for workers attracting real estate development.[7]

5. Logistics City

The Logistics City is strategically located in close proximity to the Colombo Port and the Airport and is expected to span across a region of 306 km2.It will be linked to other areas of the project through multi modal connectivity such as dedicated roads, expressways and railway links for freight handling and transportation.Industrial clusters are proposed for facilities such as transshipment, dry port, warehousing, cold storage, vehicle repair, and cargo distribution[7] The first phase of the Logistics city was launched in January 2017 by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister Champika Ranawaka. The first investment is a joint venture between GAC Group and Hemas Logistics to build a modern integrated logistics facility with a state-of-the-art distribution centre, container yard and a warehouse facility.[30][31]

6. Colombo Core Area

The core area is divided into two main segments the Central Business District (CBD) and the Core area which overlaps with the boundaries of the Colombo and Gampaha Districts. The CBD project aims to develop the area for "work, live and play". A unique shopping district along Beira lake is proposed alongside an entertainment district on the other side of the Beira lake and the Fort and Pettah areas will be developed into a pedestrial friendly area[8]

7. The Outer Core Area

The area has been identified just outside the core area. They serve the suburbs that are expected to have higher population and purchasing power in the long term and is expected to be a medium density residential and mixed commercial development area[8]

8. Plantation City: Avissawella

The Plantation City consists of 330 km2 of plantation areas around Avissawella alongside pockets of residential development. The region's economy will be largely based on plantations and hopes to attract population from rural areas and to offer a different environment to live compared to the densely populated Colombo and the surrounding areas.[8]

9. Forest City

Occupying an area of approximately 1050 km2 in the southernmost part of the Western Region Megapolis the Forest city contains a small population mostly engaged in Agriculture and forest related activities. The area will be built upon farms, forests and heritage to improve the quality of life while protecting the environment. The economy will be largely based on tourism, including eco and agro tourism.[8]

10. Coastal and Marine Zone

11. Science and IT City

Also known as the "Techno City", the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development envisions to build a city dedicated to knowledge services and research based education and training. It is planned to be located mainly around the town centres from Homagama to Kaduwela via Malabe. With a mission to utilise Science & Technology to increase the wealth of the community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of associated businesses as well as Industries and knowledge-based institutions, the project plans to contain high-tech research and development centres, incubation centres, and high-tech industries with all requisite support services and facilities, and a dedicated technological university among other major technology centres.

Science and Technology City is planned to primarily focus on Nano Technology, Civil Nuclear Technology, Space Technology, Information and Communication Technologies, Electronic Manufacturing and Semiconductor Technologies, Robotics and Automation, Bio-Technology, and Gene Technology. This project is expected to attract business park developers, software houses, big players in advanced technology and bio-medical industries as well as real estate developers.

The city will also contain Shopping complexes, Cinemas, Schools, Recreational activities, Parking Blocks as well as National Space Technology Hub including Ground Station infrastructure for receiving & distribution of Earth Observation Satellite Data.[6][7] The first phase of the project started in September 2016 with initial investments close to 20 Billion rupees by universities and the Arthur C. Clark Institution for Modern Technologies.[32][33]


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  6. ^ a b c d e "Masterplan".
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  8. ^ a b c d e f "Detailed Master Plan" (PDF).
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  11. ^ "Singapore to help Sri Lanka revive Western Region Megapolis plan". Daily Nation. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  12. ^ hermes. "Singapore to revise master plan for Sri Lanka's Megapolis". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  13. ^ "Sri Lanka unveils Megapolis plan". Lanka Business Online. Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  14. ^ "Sri Lanka signs MOU with Siemens to develop Megapolis smart cities – Lanka Business Online". www.lankabusinessonline.com. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  15. ^ "Colombo International Financial Centre (Port City) Apartments, Sri Lanka". LankaPropertyWeb.com. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  16. ^ "What's In Store For The Colombo Transport Plan? - Roar.lk". Roar.lk. 2016-05-27. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  17. ^ "TRANSPORT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT - MMWD". Ministry of Megapolis & Western Development. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  18. ^ a b c "Transport Master Plan For Western Region Megapolis Planning Project" (PDF).
  19. ^ "High Speed Railway Corp. gears to introduce maglev technology to Sri Lanka". www.dailymirror.lk. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  20. ^ "Cabinet approves construction of LRT after JICA feasibility study – Lanka Business Online". www.lankabusinessonline.com. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  21. ^ Lanka, Gamini Gunaratna, Sri Lanka News Paper by LankaPage.com (LLC)- Latest Hot News from Sri. "Sri Lanka : Japan agrees to fund Sri Lanka\'s light rail system proposed in megapolis development plan". www.colombopage.com. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  22. ^ "Requests for EOI (consulting services -firm selection) Western Region Light Rail Transit project" (PDF). www.megapolismin.gov.lk. Ministry of Megapolis & Western Development. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  23. ^ a b Gunasekara, Skandha (23 November 2017). "Light Rail project to kick off in December 2018". ft.lk. Daily Financial Times. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  24. ^ Fernando, Lahiru. "New inland water transport system through private public partnership". Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  25. ^ "Photo Gallery".
  26. ^ "Construction Work On Rajagiriya Flyover To Begin In July". Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  27. ^ Editor (2016-12-20). "Bandaranayake International Airport -Terminal 2 (2017)". Aviation Voice. Retrieved 2018-12-20.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  29. ^ "Megapolis Regulations and Guidelines - Planning, Zoning, Environmental and Building" (PDF).
  30. ^ "Hemas and GAC break ground for integrated logistics facility". Retrieved 2017-01-29.
  31. ^ Fernando, Lahiru. "Colombo city to become best urban center in Indian Ocean: PM". Retrieved 2017-01-29.
  32. ^ "First Phase Of "Techno City" To Be Launched On September 22". Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  33. ^ "Techno City will spearhead huge increase in GDP: Ranawaka". www.dailymirror.lk. Retrieved 2016-09-23.

External linksEdit