League of Slum Dwellers – L.S.D –
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  The Epilogue of Slums I

It seems callous to analyze matters relative to the comforts of the West about political “opportunity” in third world slums. Is it necessary to move beyond the standard pity and fear of slum-dwellers and start recognizing us, as political agents, not just victims of the global system of capital?  

We, are the counter-class to the other newly emerging sect, the so-called “symbolic class” (managers, academics, artists, etc.) that is also uprooted and that perceives itself as directly universal. Would not this “symbolic class” witness the slum community as the death of their own evolution? In real shouldn’t this “symbolic class” percieve us, as the guardians and the prime source of their own social comfort?


Indeed squatters mix more concrete than any developer and lay more bricks than any government. Yet, the labour-power of a billion people has been expelled from the world system, and who can imagine any plausible scenario, under neo-liberal auspices, that would reintegrate them as productive workers or mass consumers? Speak to any woman: she doesn’t want to live on the street or on railway tracks. She dreams of a better home for her children. She doesn’t want to leave them plastic sheets when she’s dead.

Facts of Urbanisation

The scale of world urban oppression today: Mumbai, with ten to twelve million squatters and tenement dwellers, is the global capital of slums, followed by Mexico City and Dhaka, with slum populations of nine or ten million, and then Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Kinshasa-Brazzaville, São Paolo, Shanghai and Delhi, with around seven million slum dwellers each. The Middle East has Baghdad’s Sadr City (1.5 million) and Gaza (1.3 million), while the corrugated-iron shacks of Cité Soleil, in Port-au-Prince, and Kinshasa’s Masina district each hold half a million souls. India has nearly 160 million slum-dwellers, and China over 190 million. In Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Sudan, over 70 per cent of the urban population lives in slums. (2)

Global Statistical Note on Slums 

The earth has urbanized even faster than originally predicted by the Club of Rome in its notoriously Malthusian 1972 report, Limits of Growth. In 1950 there were 86 cities in the world with a population over one million; today there are 400, and by 2015, there will be at least 550. [4] Cities, indeed, have absorbed nearly two-thirds of the global population explosion since 1950 and are currently growing by a million babies and migrants each week. [5] The present urban population (3.2 billion) is larger than the total population of the world in 1960. The global countryside, meanwhile, has reached its maximum population (3.2 billion) and will begin to shrink after 2020. As a result, cities will account for all future world population growth, which is expected to peak at about 10 billion in 2050. [6] 

Ninety-five per cent of this final buildout of humanity will occur in the urban areas of developing countries, whose population will double to nearly 4 billion over the next generation. [7] (Indeed, the combined urban population of China, India and Brazil already roughly equals that of Europe plus North America.) The most celebrated result will be the burgeoning of new megacities with populations in excess of 8 million, and, even more spectacularly, hypercities with more than 20 million inhabitants (the estimated urban population of the world at the time of the French Revolution). [8] In 1995 only Tokyo had incontestably reached that threshold. By 2025, according to the Far Eastern EconomicReview, Asia alone could have ten or eleven conurbations that large, including Jakarta (24.9 million), Dhaka (25 million) and Karachi (26.5 million).

 Shanghai, whose growth was frozen for decades by Maoist policies of deliberate under-urbanization, could have as many as 27 million residents in its huge estuarial metro-region. [9] Mumbai (Bombay) meanwhile is projected to attain a population of 33 million, although no one knows whether such gigantic concentrations of poverty are biologically or ecologically sustainable. [10]

The Epilogue of Slums II

This proves the fact that this is not a marginal phenomenon, but rather the fast growth of a population outside State control, living in conditions half outside the law, in terrible need of the minimal forms of self-organization. The ‘Big Bang’ of ‘urban refugees’ comes after 1975, with the imposition of IMF-World Bank Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) which ‘devastated rural smallholders by eliminating subsidies and pushing them to sink, or swim, in global commodity markets dominated by heavily subsidized First World agribusiness’. At the same time, the SAPs enforced ‘privatization, removal of import controls . . . and ruthless downsizing in the public sector’. And they were accompanied by the 1976 switch of IMF-World Bank policies—under the joint influence of Robert McNamara and former anarchist urbanist John Turner—to ‘self-help’ slum-improvement schemes in place of new house-building, representing, in Mike Davis’s words, ‘a massive downsizing of entitlement’, which soon hardened into neoliberal anti-state orthodoxy.  

The net result has been a gigantic increase in urbanization ‘decoupled from industrialization, even from development per se’.The relentless waves of hominess nova pouring into the cities are far in excess of the demand for their labour. The combination of lack of work plus ultra-low wages leaves this foot-slogging infantry of the global economy deprived of the basic means of human subsistence. One cannot enter the colonies populated by these people in Latin America, Africa and Asia (Colombo) without being struck by the acute exploitation that prevails there.

As in Victorian times, ‘the categorical criminalization of the urban oppressed is a self-fulfilling prophecy, guaranteed to shape a future of endless war in the streets’. From the mid-1990s, US military theoreticians have been urging preparation for ‘protracted combat’ in the nearly impassable, maze-like streets of oppressed Third World cities. As the journal of the US Army War College described in a 1996 article entitled ‘Our Soldiers, Their Cities’:

The future of warfare lies in the streets, sewers, high-rise buildings, and sprawls of houses that form the broken cities of the world . . . Our recent military history is punctuated with city names—Tuzla, Mogadishu, Los Angeles [!], Beirut, Panama City, Hué, Saigon, Santo Domingo—but these encounters have been but a prologue, with the real drama still to come.

The names are those of the cities, but the real danger lurks in their vast slums where alienated and seething masses dwell. In the opinion of researchers operating from state-run American think-tanks, ‘security forces should address the sociological phenomenon of excluded populations’. Mike Davis backs up this documentation with quotations from Pentagon sources that argue the case for contingency plans in support of ‘a low-intensity World War of unlimited duration against criminalized segments of the urban oppressed’. Quite rightly he concludes that this mindset reveals the true ‘clash of civilizations’.


(1)                 In the book ‘Planet of Slums’ by Mike Davis 2006 May

(2)                 The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003 UN Human Settlements Programme 2003 

(3)                 Case of Colombo, Sri Lanka by Sevanatha 2001 page 9

[4] UN Population Division, World Urbanization Prospects, the 2001 Revision, New York 2002.

[5] Population Information Program, Population Reports: Meeting the Urban Challenge, vol. xxx, no. 4, Fall 2002, p. 1.

[6] Wolfgang Lutz, Warren Sandeson and Sergei Scherbov, ‘Doubling of world population unlikely’, Nature 387, 19 June 1997, pp. 803–4. However the populations of sub-Saharan Africa will triple and
India, double.

[7] Global Urban Observatory, Slums of the World: The face of urban poverty in the new millennium?, New York 2003, p. 10.

[8] Although the velocity of global urbanization is not in doubt, the growth rates of specific cities may brake abruptly as they encounter the frictions of size and congestion. A famous instance of such a ‘polarization reversal’ is Mexico City: widely predicted to achieve a population of 25 million during the 1990s (the current population is probably about 18 or 19 million). See Yue-man Yeung, ‘Geography in an age of mega-cities’, International Social Sciences Journal 151, 1997, p. 93.

[9] For a perspective, see Yue-Man Yeung, ‘Viewpoint: Integration of the Pearl River Delta’, International Development Planning Review, vol. 25, no. 3, 2003.

[10] Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia 1998 Yearbook, p. 63.   



The British and the WEST collectively, who, for almost five centuries have drawn the resources of this isle in to their own blood spilled lands and created much internal subjugation and ethnic segregation within the country. The riots of 1815 against the militarist acquisition of agricultural land by the British, was a materialisation of oppression in its rapture of form, where its intended content was obliteration of vandalism. The answer in reply to the mass congregation by the British was the systematic killing of all, of the national, ethnic and religious identities, namely, the answer by the British, was Genocide. The human residue spared by the massacre was driven by their unintended subconscious to scatter among the solidified marshlands of the island, where they begot a new civilisation of wrack and ruin; a new species of human beings which formed a distinctly separated class from the rest (“the tourists”) solely through the estrangement of them from their labour; a genesis of a population of non-labourers who provide rigorous labour but merely sell their means of subsistence for the sake of their subtle subsistence.   


Subsequent to the expansion and fortification of the Victorian economy, the imperials influenced the new local colonists to expose the economy of this isle and enter it to the so called, “highly competitive global economy”, in there the products of our local farmers and manufacturers failed to challenge the low exchange rates of the products of the WEST, solely due to their invasion and pilfering of the local resources for centuries, through which, they expanded and embraced their service sector and ultimately their monolithic lives. For an example, the European Union is presently pledging a US$ 360 billion subsidy for their agricultural workers, thus no one from the so called “third world” (earlier known as British colonies, presently ideological WEST colonies) can compete with their ultimate market exchange rates. 


Thus, accompanying the central contribution of our own local whites, the vastly formidable agricultural sector of the island was swiftly made to suspend itself by the post-imperialist globalizers, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through their self-imposed Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). The repercussions of SAPs manifested itself in the form of a cultural eradication embedded with the means of fulfilment of natural needs and in the form of a general evacuation of an entire civilisation. Every day people were driven in to the city of Colombo, where their new feeble ambition was directed by the same forces which scavenged upon them for centuries in the past and for centuries in the future, as planned by the “grand tourists of capital”.  


The novel objective for the displaced farmer and own account worker were created within the city, where their new ambition was to find a means of mere subsistence, and it existed in its most obtuse form in the urban territory rather than within the devastated lands beyond the suburbs of the metropolises since the residue begot of the inclusion of the local economy in to the global market was established in Colombo… By absolute terms, all of the mega-cities, metropolises and cities of the oppressed countries  have metamorphosised themselves as the epicentres of the future political opening, in the Earth’s crust, fuelled with resisted oppression, a mountain created by declaration and accumulation of materials ejected from a vent in a central crater of militarist vilification of indigenous culture.   


This has created a scenario within the city. A large proportion of the city, currently two third of the population is earning their daily income by disseminating, transporting and selling the products which are largely, imported in to the country from the “global market”. Their labour is not used to initiate production, but is being exploited for the dissemination and distribution of imported and already manufactured products, around various parts of the country. Is this not deracinated labour, where the workers are not engaged in the national manufacturing process but are engaged in lifting, carrying and placing products which are being imported by spending their own tax money, where the tax money would be the invisible exploitation of their labour, the raw component of global and local parasitism, in other words the accumulation via imperialism in a monetary figure. The local power merchants, the Government officials and policy makers have successfully maintained this “egalitarian-system” for their individualistic advancements.  


 “The natural produce of our soil is certainly not fully adequate to our subsistence; we can neither be clothed, lodged nor fed but in consequence of some previous labour. A portion at least of the society must be indefatigably employed …. There are others who, though they ‘neither toil nor spin,’ can yet command the produce of industry, but who owe their exemption from labour solely to civilisation and order …. They are peculiarly the creatures of civil institutions, which have recognised that individuals may acquire property by various other means besides the exertion of labour…. Persons of independent fortune … owe their superior advantages by no means to any superior abilities of their own, but almost entirely … to the industry of others. It is not the possession of land, or of money, but the command of labour which distinguishes the opulent from the labouring part of the community …. This [scheme approved by Eden] would give the people of property sufficient (but by no means too much) influence and authority over those who … work for them; and it would place such labourers, not in an abject or servile condition, but in such a state of easy and liberal dependence as all who know human nature, and its history, will allow to be necessary for their own comfort.” [1]


The relative surplus-population exists always in three forms, the floating, the latent, the stagnant.


In the centres of modern industry — factories, manufactures, ironworks, mines, &c. — the labourers are sometimes repelled, sometimes attracted again in greater masses, the number of those employed increasing on the whole, although in a constantly decreasing proportion to the scale of production. Here the surplus-population exists in the floating form.


In the automatic factories, as in all the great workshops, where machinery enters as a factor, or where only the modern division of labour is carried out, large numbers of boys are employed up to the age of maturity. When this term is once reached, only a very small number continue to find employment in the same branches of industry, whilst the majority are regularly discharged. This majority forms an element of the floating surplus-population, growing with the extension of those branches of industry. Part of them emigrates, following in fact capital that has emigrated.  That the natural increase of the number of labourers does not satisfy the requirements of the accumulation of capital, and yet all the time is in excess of them, is a contradiction inherent to the movement of capital itself. It wants larger numbers of youthful labourers, a smaller number of adults. The contradiction is not more glaring than that other one that there is a complaint of the want of hands, while at the same time many thousands are out of work, because the division of labour chains them to a particular branch of industry.


The consumption of labour-power by capital is, besides, so rapid that the labourer, half-way through his life, has already more or less completely lived himself out. He falls into the ranks of the supernumeraries, or is thrust down from a higher to a lower step in the scale. It is precisely among the work-people of modern industry that we meet with the shortest duration of life.


In order to conform to these circumstances, the absolute increase of this section of the proletariat must take place under conditions that shall swell their numbers, although the individual elements are used up rapidly. Hence, rapid renewal of the generations of labourers (this law does not hold for the other classes of the population). This social need is met by early marriages, a necessary consequence of the conditions in which the labourers of modern industry live, and by the premium that the exploitation of children sets on their production.


As soon as capitalist production takes possession of agriculture, and in proportion to the extent to which it does so, the demand for an agricultural labouring population falls absolutely, while the accumulation of the capital employed in agriculture advances, without this repulsion being, as in non-agricultural industries, compensated by a greater attraction. Part of the agricultural population is therefore constantly on the point of passing over into an urban or manufacturing proletariat and on the look-out for circumstances favourable to this transformation. (Manufacture is used here in the sense of all nonagricultural industries.)  This source of relative surplus-population is thus constantly flowing. But the constant flow towards the towns pre-supposes, in the country itself, a constant latent surplus-population, the extent of which becomes evident only when its channels of outlet open to exceptional width. The agricultural labourer is therefore reduced to the minimum of wages, and always stands with one foot already in the swamp of pauperism.


The third category of the relative surplus-population, the stagnant, forms a part of the active labour army, but with extremely irregular employment. Hence it furnishes to capital an inexhaustible reservoir of disposable labour-power. Its conditions of life sink below the average normal level of the working-class; this makes it at once the broad basis of special branches of capitalist exploitation. It is characterised by maximum of working-time, and minimum of wages. We have learnt to know its chief form under the rubric of “domestic industry.” It recruits itself constantly from the supernumerary forces of modern industry and agriculture, and especially from those decaying branches of industry where handicraft is yielding to manufacture, manufacture to machinery. Its extent grows, as with the extent and energy of accumulation, the creation of a surplus-population advances. But it forms at the same time a self-reproducing and self-perpetuating element of the working-class, taking a proportionally greater part in the general increase of that class than the other elements. In fact, not only the number of births and deaths, but the absolute size of the families stand in inverse proportion to the height of wages, and therefore to the amount of means of subsistence of which the different categories of labourers dispose. This law of capitalistic society would sound absurd to savages, or even civilised colonists. It calls to mind the boundless reproduction of animals individually weak and constantly hunted down. [2]


The lowest sediment of the relative surplus-population finally dwells in the sphere of pauperism. Exclusive of vagabonds, criminals, prostitutes, in a word, the “dangerous” classes, this layer of society consists of three categories. First, those able to work. The quantity of paupers increases with every crisis, and diminishes with every revival of trade. Second, orphans and pauper children. These are candidates for the industrial reserve army, and are, in times of great prosperity. Third, the demoralised and ragged, and those unable to work, chiefly people who succumb to their incapacity for adaptation, due to the division of labour; people who have passed the normal age of the labourer; the victims of industry, whose number increases with the increase of dangerous machinery, of mines, chemical works, &c., the mutilated, the sickly, the widows, &c. Pauperism is the hospital of the active labour-army and the dead weight of the industrial reserve army. Its production is included in that of the relative surplus-population, its necessity in theirs; along with the surplus-population, pauperism forms a condition of capitalist production, and of the capitalist development of wealth. It enters into the faux frais of capitalist production; but capital knows how to throw these, for the most part, from its own shoulders on to those of the working-class and the lower middle class.


The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the extent and energy of its growth, and, therefore, also the absolute mass of the proletariat and the productiveness of its labour, the greater is the industrial reserve army. The same causes which develop the expansive power of capital, develop also the labour-power at its disposal. The relative mass of the industrial reserve army increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth. But the greater this reserve army in proportion to the active labour-army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated surplus-population, whose misery is in inverse ratio to its torment of labour. The more extensive, finally, the Lazarus-layers of the working-class, and the industrial reserve army, the greater is official pauperism. This is the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation. All means for the development of production transform themselves into means of domination over, and exploitation of, the producers; they mutilate the labourer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into a hated toil; they estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labour-process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent power; they distort the conditions under which he works, subject him during the labour-process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness; they transform his life-time into working-time, and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the Juggernaut of capital. But all methods for the production of surplus-value are at the same time methods of accumulation; and every extension of accumulation becomes again a means for the development of those methods. It follows therefore that in proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the labourer, be his payment high or low, must grow worse. The law, finally, that always equilibrates the relative surplus-population, or industrial reserve army, to the extent and energy of accumulation, this law rivets the labourer to capital more firmly than the wedges of Vulcan did Prometheus to the rock. It establishes an accumulation of misery, corresponding with accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital. [3].

  “Thanks to the advance of industry and science,” says Sismondi, “every labourer can produce every day much more than his consumption requires. But at the same time, whilst his labour produces wealth, that wealth would, were he called on to consume it himself, make him less fit for labour.” According to him, “men” [i.e., non-workers] “would probably prefer to do without all artistic perfection, and all the enjoyments that manufacturers procure for us, if it were necessary that all should buy them by constant toil like that of the labourer…. Exertion to-day is separated from its recompense; it is not the same man that first works, and then reposes; but it is because the one works that the other rests…. The indefinite multiplication of the productive powers of labour can then only have for result the increase of luxury and enjoyment of the idle rich.” [4]  

1 Eden, l. c., Vol. 1, book I., chapter 1, pp. 1, 2, and preface, p. xx.

2. “Poverty seems favourable to generation.” (A. Smith.) This is even a specially wise arrangement of God, according to the gallant and witty (Galiani, l. c., p. 78.) God ordains that men who carry on trades of primary utility are born in abundance. “Misery up to the extreme point of famine and pestilence, instead of checking, tends to increase population.” (S. Laing, “National Distress,” 1844, p. 69.) After Laing has illustrated this by statistics, he continues: “If the people were all in easy circumstances, the world would soon be depopulated.”

3.  (Karl Marx: “Poverty of Philosophy” p. 116.)

4. Sismondi, l. c., pp. 79, 80, 85.

         League of Slum Dwellers (L.S.D)



for-the-web.jpg  Privileged a chosen few, blessed with our time in hell

Accumulating by Dispossession


Sixty three percent of the Colombo city population, the “superior” majority, live in huts, slums or unauthorised structures, and they only occupy nine percent of land from the total area of the Colombo District. The 2001 survey carried out by the Colombo Municipal Council has identified a total of 77,612 families living in 1,614 low-income settlements in the city, but no action has been taken by Local or International hypocritical power houses to rectify the appalling human crisis. 


The present Colombo city infrastructure, though used by a mammoth population of about 642,000 (2001) and a daily floating population of another 400,000, making it a city of over one million population (Department of Census and Statistics, 2001), was created over 100 years ago for a city population of only 35,000. Sixty three percent of Colombo city population –the “superior” majority- live in huts, slums or unauthorised structures. The 2001 survey carried out by the Colombo Municipal Council and SEVANATHA NGO has identified a total of 77,612 families living in 1,614 low-income settlements in the city. According to statistics, people in slums dwell in some 1,000 acres of State land and other reserves.


Owner occupancy was considered significant in respect of the Sri Lankan approach. But it was found that only 23 per cent of families have ownership rights to their land— and that means the rest are “illegally occupied”, while it is “legal” within the present system to exploit the physical and physiological strength of the people who are the sole victims of neo-liberalism and its embedded global (West) parasitism. Out of the estimated 1,000 acres, 71% have been taken over by those living in shanties and huts. Colombo has some 63 slum areas which reflect a massive housing problem. This is empirically evident in Colombo as 63% of its population live in slums and they only occupy nine percent of the total area of Colombo District.Further more, 73% of the population in Colombo North & Central live in tents, slums and ghettoes. This proves the fact that this is not a marginal phenomenon, but rather the fast growth of a population outside state control, living in conditions half outside the law, in terrible need of the minimal forms of self-organization.


In 1995 there were about 10,000 children in the age group of 6-14 years that were sexually exploited for commercial purposes. A major source of children for exploitation is the slums in and around the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. According to UNICEF and International Labor Organisation (ILO) statistics, in 2003 there were nearly 40,000 child prostitutes in the country while 5,000 to 30,000 Sri Lankan boys were used by Western pedophile sex tourists in Sri Lanka.


According to Mrs. Maureen Senevirtane, the chairperson and a founder of Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere (PEACE), “Children are taken out of these slums and are never heard from again.” 


Access to Water 


Thirty per cent of families have difficult access to drinking water while only 44 per cent have individual house connection. 24-hour availability of piped water covers only 56 per cent of the urban poor families in the city. About 10 per cent of the families receive less than 10 hours of water per day. This shows that provision of improved water supplies to a majority (56 per cent) of urban poor is a critical issue in Colombo.


Access to Sanitation 


The availability of the city sewerage network was recorded for about 70 per cent families (a majority of individual toilets and some common toilets were connected to the sewer network. However, in Colombo North Districts (District 1, 2A, 2B) where a large number of low-income settlements located, a sewerage network connection was available for only 51 per cent families. The remaining 30 per cent without sewage connection facilities used septic tanks and soak pits while some families directly discharged sewer into canals. As such, improving sanitation conditions in low-income settlements located in Colombo North district is more critical than in Colombo South district where about 70 per cent of families have access to the city sewer network.


Access to Municipal Waste Collection 


These figures show that extending the solid waste collection service to about 66 per cent of the low-income families is necessary.


Literacy Rate 

 􀂄 Over 90 per cent of people are literate. The younger generation is more literate than older.

􀂄 Some people are capable of using more than one language. There is no significant difference between male and female literacy rates in the community.


Slum dwellers—suppressed labourers, superfluous civil servants and ex-peasants—are  incorporated into the economy in numerous ways, many of us working as informal wage workers or self-employed entrepreneurs, with no adequate health or social security coverage. Our existence is the true “symptom” of slogans like “Development,” “Modernization,” “Poverty” and “World Market.” We, the slum dwellers are the counter-class to the other newly emerging class, the so-called “symbolic class” (managers, journalists, academics, artists, etc.) that is also uprooted and that perceives itself as directly universal. Would not this so-called “symbolic class” witness the slum community as the death of their own symbolic evolution? <!– D([“mb”,”–>\n The present Colombo city infrastructure, though used by a mammoth population, was created over 100 years ago for a city population of 35,000. According to the article published by Dilrukshi Handunnetti on 16 FEB 2006 in the http://www.lankalibrary.com \n web site, recent surveys reveal that 54% of the Colombo city population lives in huts, slums or unauthorised structures. According to statistics, some 1,000 acres of state land and other reserves are being occupied by these people — and that means they are illegally occupied. Out of the estimated 1,000 acres, 71% have been taken over by those living in shanties and huts. Colombo has some 63 slum areas which reflect a massive housing problem. This is empirically evident in Colombo as 54% of its population live in slums and they only occupy 7% of the total area of Colombo District. Further more, according to \nhttp://www.un.org web site 99% of the population in Colombo North live in tents, slums ghettoes. This proves the fact that this is not a marginal phenomenon, but rather the fast growth of a population outside state control, living in conditions half outside the law, in terrible need of the minimal forms of self-organization.\n \n \n Slums came into existence with the expansion of export trade associated with the rubber boom after World War II, especially during the Korean War in 1953. The character of Colombo changed in keeping with the new economic demands for warehousing, workers\’ housing and road networks. Colombo became more congested and the city elite moved out into more spacious residential areas in the suburbs. The central part of Colombo became characterized by predominantly low-income residential areas, mainly slums, and the Northern and Eastern parts contained most of the shanties. Slums and shanties are the most common types, with slums on the high lands of the old city that consist of the oldest low-income housing – mostly from the 1930s and with a definite legal occupancy status. Shanties along canal banks and road reserves have emerged since independence in 1948 onwards, and consist of unauthorized and improvised shelter without legal rights of occupancy of the land and structures. 

 – League of Slum Dwellers (L.S.D)ColomboNorthGallows@gmail.com  



Getting involved as an activist is a very personal decision. Unlike school or in any other institution no one is forcing you to be an activist. Unlike work, no one is paying you to be a part of this. Your involvement and commitment are completely based upon your own feelings, your own morals, and your own passion.
In this sole issue of corruption and parasitism together with the existing barbaric ignorance, each of these general areas, there are hundreds of ways to attack the problem. Should you have only to protests and rallies? Write the editor of your paper? Organize a fundraiser? Lobby elected officials? Write a song? Break the law?
As in this case we would propose all of you to start working and planning together to build houses and disseminate knowledge within our community as an initiative act, as one could clearly cite that knowledge is the critical decider of the “real” world’s practice of democracy. We hope that this website would help you all to connect with each other and work together in this passionate cause.   Come as you are, as a friend As an old enemy

Take your time, hurry up

The choice is yours don’t be late

Take a rest, take a breathThe choice is yours, don’t be late

And I swear that I don’t have a gun, no I don’t have a gun 

With so many important decisions to make, we say that step one is seeing the world as it really is, not as you’ve always been taught to see it. Then, think about the sort of world you’d like to live in. What should be changed? What would remain the same? Then — and this is the delicate part — figure out how to make the real world more like the ideal one you imagine.
If you look around, you will find many people wrestling with these same concerns, who care about the world and where it is headed. Activism is usually the work of many people, choosing to take action together, out of their own desires and free will. It’s about openness, teamwork, cooperation and courage. You’ll meet a lot of interesting, passionate, creative people who might become your best friends. And even though it might be a lot of hard work, it sure as hell is more satisfying than spending the day watchingus, the superior majority, the slum community dwells in decay. 
-League of Slum Dwellers (L.S.D) 



Where we dwell 


We, the activist community group, who are the sole implementers of this act, are a group of 150 families, who inhabit Thotalanga (Henamulla, Nawanivasa,
Colombo 14) with most intolerable living conditions, which were created by the local and global “guardians” of humanity, existing exclusively within the District of Colombo, even not in the exiled world of paradise. Unlike regular slum dwellers in Colombo, we live in tattered tents along side a massive garbage dump of the glorified super class, which is maintained by the “highly regarded” and “well-organized” Colombo Municipality, since 1993.


In the year 1993, due to a military operation carried out by the Government Forces, we were “evacuated” from our home-place in Modara, and ultimately to the place in which we now grow mouldy. Our previous dwellings (which were also slums) were completely demolished by the Government since the authorities believed that LTTE carders had occupied the place to plan and attack the

Harbour during that time.


We were given 48 hours of the tormenter’s expensive time, to “evacuate” from our dwellings with no alternative shelters provided prior to our eradication, with the soul meaning of the word, it was our eradication, is this not Government plus Globally integrated terrorism? Where were UN and the Human Rights Commission? Are they the agents who safe guard every parasitic act against the human kind? Are they the solitary owners, the advocates of this system, which scavenge on human demise? The Omerta/s.


We were forced to stay with no shelter or food for three days with our little ones and elders shivering on the high-priced roads of Colombo, with a nail driven for each and every one. Since it was the vacation period of the schools we were able to find shelter in the Madya Maha Vidyalaya, Colombo 14 for a few weeks, and ultimately we were thrown in to the garbage land of the rich by the

Municipality, in which we now dwell with no end in sight. 


In such a world as this does one dare to think for himself?Bound by greed the nation enslaved as corporate toolsCan the plague within you be bled out?Or do you think I am better left unspoken?For you will live to lie another dayThis is what has been brought for 30 pieces of silverThe tongues of men and angels bought by a beloved betrayer  

For more than 13 years we have inhabited this agony at any cost. Our children are forced to renounce their childhood and education from early stages of life. This is due to the appalling economic crisis, the unjust exploitation of our labour, the social segregation and rejection committed by the local and international power merchants and by the condomized colonial society of Sri Lanka.


To tell me a lie with best of intentionsFor it is mute in the age of mass communicationA slip of the tongue, a slit of the throatSix feet under with no markerKeep my name from your mouth, forever……. 

The photos and the articles published herewith are by our community, which would represent the whole of the slum community of 77,612 families within the Colombo District, the district of death and global perjury.



         League of Slum Dwellers





The first city plan was prepared by a British Town Planner, Patrick Geddes in 1921. The concept of the plan was to “preserve the rural spirit of the town”, and to make
Colombo a “Garden City of the East”. Though the plan had not been fully implemented in the city, it has had influenced the subsequent planning interventions.


With the enactment of Town & Country Planning Ordinance in 1946, the Colombo Municipal Council embarked on preparing a town-planning scheme for the city. The government had invited a British Town Planner, Patrick Abercromby to prepare the second city plan. Abercromby’s plan of 1949 covered the Colombo Metropolitan Region as a whole but it did not translate into detailed proposals. The plan emphasised the decentralisation of the city’s activities and creation of satellite towns around


The third city plan was the Colombo Master Plan of 1978, of which the main objective was the promotion of “balanced” regional development and accelerated “economic” development of the country. The Colombo Master Plan was initiated after three decades of silence, since 1949 where the Abercromby’s plan was implemented. The Colombo Master Plan has provided the basis for city planning programmes implemented since 1978 particularly in the Greater Colombo Area.


The next city plan was the Colombo Development Plan prepared by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in 1985 based on the Colombo Master Plan. This development plan laid the foundations for implementing zoning and building regulations.


The most recent city plan was the Colombo Metropolitan Regional Structure Plan (CMRSP) prepared in 1998 by the Urban Development Authority.





The Colombo Municipal Council was established in 1866 under the Colombo Municipal Council Ordinance of 1865. According to the Centenary Volume of Colombo Municipal Council 1963, (CMC, 1963) the physical size of the city was 24.5 km2 in 1871. The amalgamation of adjoining areas from time to time increased the physical size of the city. Such changes occurred in 1901, 1911, 1946, 1953 and 1963. The present city size has increased up to 37.3 km2.




The average population density of the city according to the first available records in 1871 was 40 people per hectare. This has reached up to 105 people per hectare in 1940. The current density is 172 people per hectare (2001 census). (Department of Census and Statistics, 2001) This figure indicates only the city-wide average population density. However, there are some Municipal Wards, which represent higher densities such as 974 people per hectare. The highest population density is in Colombo North, which is predominantly a low-income residential area. The
Colombo Southern area represents a low-density distribution of population, which is very much close to the city’s current average population density of 172 persons per hectare.