Oversupply and wastage – a hindrance to development
Compiled by Seth Ganepola
16 October 2019

This article is based on an interview done with Dr. Upuli Perera a Senior Lecturer from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK and a Masters on Urban Engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan. She was also the Conference Chair for the International Conference on Real Estate Management and Valuation (ICREMV) which aimed to bring together academics and practitioners and scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Real Estate Management and Valuation.

Dr. Upuli Perera
Sustainable Development

With the rapidly increasing negative environmental effects at the time, in 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. Sustainability revolves around this idea of development that is conducted without harming the natural environment.
As a result of the busy and hectic lives, convenience has become a primary concern for all the people around the world. Starting from the use of microwaves to using motor vehicles to travel the shortest distance, people have become more and more complex and it is very evident that no one is willing to give up their convenience. Therefore, the question is how can we address sustainable development without jeopardizing the modern lives and needs of people? So the smart approach is to protect the environment while ensuring the convenience of all.

Oversupply & Wastage

Sustainable development primarily hinges upon the protection of the natural environment. Almost all the negative environmental impacts are a result of environmental pollution. The release of waste matter to the environment is the primary cause for the said pollution. However, the ‘waste’ is not limited to the garbage we throw away every day. It is also the wastage of resources due to the oversupply.
A significant part of the physical waste we find is an outcome of the wastage of the supply. When a certain product is being supplied to the community without paying due attention to the consumer demand, it creates an excess of supply. Then there is no need to recycle or reuse these products because there is an overabundance of that specific product in the community. For instance, no one would think twice in throwing away a plastic water bottle because it is so much easier to find another one anywhere you go.

Another good example is the Electronic Market. The consumption of electronic devices has increased unnecessarily to a point where the electronic device market is no longer need-driven. People change their phones very frequently resulting in heaps of E-waste.

What Must Be Done About the Oversupply?

• Producers must be encouraged to properly identify consumer needs.
• Production should be done with a proper understanding of the public demand.
• Production above the estimated demand should be actively discouraged.
• The use of technology to capture the real time needs of the people should be encouraged. (E.g.: Making information on public transportation available online (time, location, number of seats) and also getting information from the passengers directly to identify the demand.)

How Does Wastage of Resources Affect Urban Development?

Like all other resources, space can also be wasted, more often when it is not managed properly. That is why urban planning is very important in the development process.

Heavy traffic in Pettah, Bambalapitiya, Duplication Road is quite common, but have you ever thought of the reason for this? According to Dr. Upuli Perera, one of the key contributory factors for this common phenomenon is linear development.

Linear Development

Linear development is the process of creating a dense commercial strip along a linear path. Generally, there are a couple of essential requirements that are expected in a commercial environment. These areas need parking facilities for customers and employees, footpaths for pedestrians, specific lanes for public transportation, drainage systems and sometimes even cycling tracks. When these requirements are not properly addressed it causes many other secondary issues.

Outcomes of Unplanned Linear Development

• Causes heavy traffic along the road (Traffic results in other negative environmental effects.).
• Road widening projects threaten the drainage systems.
• Hesitance in road expansion due to problems with land acquisition.
• The land acquired for public transportation reduces the land allocated for the pedestrians.
• Parking vehicles on either side of the road further increases traffic.
• Unnecessarily spending public funds on land acquisition.
What is the Best Approach in Commercial Development?

Rather than concentrating a certain area with commercial constructions, it is preferred that the development be more decentralized in a way that we can reduce the crowding. If linear development is unavoidable, then it must be properly planned to include all of the above-mentioned essential requirements.

Issues in the Road System

When the Sri Lankan roads were designed in the ‘90s, the state had given much attention to the popular behavioural norms that existed at the time. These norms can still be seen in different regions in the country, but in most parts they have changed.
Until of late, it was possible for anyone to categorize 6am, 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 6pm as the peak hours of traffic in Colombo and the transportation system was developed accordingly. There was a clear distinction between peak hours and off-peak hours, but now it is quite irregular and unpredictable. The current road system according to Dr. Upuli, has been designed based on a Short-Term Review Process when in fact it should have been based on a Long-Term Review Process. Therefore, it is important to think about the changes that might take place in the future in planning development projects.

Managing the oversupply and wastage of resources in urban areas is one of the most effective ways to go about achieving sustainable development.

Compiled by Seth Ganepola
16 October 2019
Seth is a young contributor for Unlocked.lk, who is passionate about volunteering towards sustainable development in Sri Lanka. A passionate debater and dramatist since school, Seth is currently studying to be a lawyer.


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