இலங்கையில் நாடு தழுவிய பேரழிவு
கிணறுகளின் நீரை பாவிக்க வேண்டாம்
25-05-2016 02:37 AM
கொழும்பு மாவட்டத்தில், வெள்ளநீரினால் அசுத்தமடைந்துள்ள கிணறுகள் மற்றும் குழாய்க் கிணறுகளில் இருந்து பெறப்படும் மாதிரி தண்ணீரைப் பரிசோதனைக்கு உட்படுத்தி, அக்கிணறுகளில் உள்ள தண்ணீரின் சுத்தத்தன்மை தொடர்பில் அறிவிக்கும் வரையிலும், அக்கிணறுகளின் தண்ணீரை எக்காரணத்துக்காகவும் பயன்படுத்தவேண்டாமென, நீர் முகாமைத்துவ சபை, மக்களிடம் கேட்டுக்கொண்டுள்ளது.
நீர் ஊற்றுமூலங்களில் தண்ணீரைப் பரிசோதனைக்கு உட்படுத்தவேண்டுமாயின், அதற்கு தேவையான ஏற்பாடுகள் மேற்கொள்ளப்படும் என்றும். தேவையேற்படின் 0718587628 / 0776528445 / 0718605592 / 0714414681 ஆகிய அலைபேசி இலக்கங்களுக்குத் தொடர்புகளை ஏற்படுத்தி, மேலதிக விவரங்களைப் பெற்றுக்கொள்ள முடியும் என்றும் அச்சபையின் தலைவர் எஸ்.காதர் தெரிவித்தார்.
Special reports – FloodsKelani crisis largely man-made
By Anushiya Sathisraja
Shrinking open spaces, illegal constructions, the lack of proper waste disposal and inefficient drainage systems contributed to the worst flooding in 27 years in Colombo and its suburbs, a senior official of the Irrigation Department said.
People filling up lowlands for construction and choked stormwater drains and other water conduits deepened the crisis.
Clogged drainage and canals in and around the city are blocking the flow of water to the river and sea, Irrigation Department Acting Director-General T.P. Alwis said. “The reason for this is that the canal beds are much lower than the sea or river level, and as a result, the water does not drain out,” he said.
A major contributory factor to the flooding has been the filling in of marshlands for development purposes.
Mr. Alwis said flooding in Kelaniya worsened this year primarily due to a drop in the city’s ability to absorb water because most of the marsh or wetlands in and around Kelaniya had been filled for building houses or other construction.
The flooding around Colombo had been extraordinarily severe despite the water level of the Kelani River reaching 7.3 feet compared to 7.8 feet during the 1989 floods.
In 1989, more than 60,000 persons were affected in the Colombo district while islandwide 300,000 were displaced and more than 300 killed. Most of the deaths were reported from the Bulathkohupitiya area, which was hit by a landslide, killing 244 people. This time, more than 185,000 people are suffering from flooding in the Colombo district, with three deaths reported.
The water levels of the major tanks are high, the Irrigation Department said.
Aerial view of floods in Sri Lanka - Colombo Aranayaka
Some 53 major reservoirs are spilling while 73 are 82 per cent full. Mr Alwis said the spill gates of 20 big tanks have been opened, and after 2014 this is the first time all irrigation tanks have a large water supply.
According to the latest update onFriday from the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), 64 deaths have been reported islandwide and 131 declared missing from the landslide in Aranayake. More than 425, 000 people belonging to 100,000 families have been displaced with nearly 320,000 people living in shelters due to the devastation caused by floods, landslides and heavy winds in 22 of the districts.
From the highlands of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya to the lowlands of Hambantota and Batticaloa, the severe weather conditions left a trail of devastation across 16 of the country’s 25 administrative districts.
In the Gampaha district some 321, 350 people (75, 035 families) have been hit by the overflowing of the Kelani river.
The DMC also confirmed that 1,900 persons in Aranayake and another 2,221 in Bulathkohupitiya are suffering hardship caused by landslides. In the Kegalle district 28,909 persons are affected (see separate story).
Among the other areas hit are Ratnapura, with 3,858 people needing assistance, Central Province (5,007 people) ,Northern Province (37,001) and Puttalam (24,874).
Kegalle, Kalutara, Badulla, Moneragala, Kandy, Ratnapura, Kurunegala Nuwara Eliya and Matale, remain at high risk of landslides, cut slopes and rock falls.
Similar to the causes leading to the floods, made-made actions were attributed to the increasing landslides and rock falls.
The National Building Research Organisation (NBRO), the organisation focused on minimising landslides, struggles with no powers, a senior NBRO official said.
NBRO Landslide and Research Head R.M.S. Bandara said bad land use practices and water management and non-engineered constructions were the leading man-made causes of landslides.
“There are constructions in landslide-prone areas that lack proper retaining structures, and added to that are cutting failures. Most people in areas of risk are unaware that rainwater management is essential is preventing landslide and related disasters. “It is essential to divert rainwater to the nearest stream or waterway,”, Mr. Bandara emphasised.
Aranayake Landslde Live And Colombo Flood 2016 Sri Lanka. අරනායක නායා යෑම සජීවීව.
“Agriculture, road development, local government, environment, railways, education, police, and disaster management authorities should co-ordinate to ensure the safety of the public and prevent landslides.”
Apart from issuing clearance certificates, handing over rain gauges, landslide hazard zone mapping, creating awareness programmes and research, the NBRO has no powers to take legal action against those who do not obtain the NBRO certificate for constructions, carry out haphazard steepening of slopes or fail to follow proper water management and land use.
Mr. Bandara said residents should report to the District Secretary’s offices if they notice any abnormalities such as rock slides, unusual seepage of water and bulges on slopes.
With the increase of landslides and floods worsening experts have called for better methods in minimising landslides.
Sri Lanka floods: worst affected Colombo-most rainfall Kilinochchi
Professor Kapila Dahanayake, a geologist from University of Peradeniya, said a mechanism should also be introduced, with the advice of irrigation officials, to harvest floodwater at higher levels without letting almost 80 per cent of it drain out to the sea.
“Concrete columns should be used so that filling the land is avoided while increasing the number of culverts, both to allow the free flow of water,” Prof. Dahanayake said.
The Meteorology Department’s Director of Forecasting, Sarath Premalal, said that after 13 years this week’s rainfall, measuring 450mm, was the highest recorded in the country since the previous maximum of 700mm.
Strong windy conditions over the country and in the sea areas around the island will continue during next few days due to the meeting of wind feeding to the system. There is a high possibility to sudden increase of rain in the south-western part of the country. Very heavy rainfall of 100-150mm is also expected in some areas.
உலகமய கொழும்பு தலைநகர் வெள்ளத்தில்
Issues of responsibility muddy the waters
By Sandun Jayawardana
Colombo’s flooding problem is far more complex than an issue of drainage maintainance, says the chairman of the Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, W.M.A.S. Iddawela.
He said it was easy to claim that the floods in Colombo increased in severity due to poor maintenance of drainage systems, as some were alleging.
“The issue is far more complex and must be looked at from a professional level,” he stressed.
For example, Mr. Iddawela said, the Land Reclamation and Development Corporation was in charge of 44km of the canal system in Colombo. Responsibilities regarding much of the drainage system, on the other hand, lay with the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC).
A collective of several agencies – including the Department of Irrigation, Urban Development Authority (UDA) and Coast Conservation Department – must co-operate to maintain the region’s flood management system, he said.
While the Kelani River bursting its banks greatly contributed to the severe flooding, irregular constructions had heaped enormous pressure on the environment, Mr. Iddawela said. The situation had become unsustainable, he argued.
He cited the Werassa Ganga Development Project, which saw the development of the Bellanwila walking track and surrounding region, as an example of good construction. The project had helped put an end to frequent floods in the Kesbewa and Piliyandala areas. “The project is a testament to how sustainable construction can help mitigate flood disasters,” Mr. Iddawela said.
He said under the World Bank-funded Metro Colombo Urban Development Project, a stronger storm drainage system for Kolonnawa, which has experienced some of the worst flooding to hit Colombo, would be built.
Mr. Iddawela revealed Colombo needed a minimum of 1,000 acres of lowland to safely facilitate water retention in order to avert future flooding in the region. “We have, however, just 600 acres,” he said. “In order to secure the region we have to take steps to find 400 more acres of lowland. That will take a minimum of two to three years.”
He said it was essential to identify all low-lying areas where construction has taken place because they were vulnerable to flooding.
“A major problem is the lack of pumping stations along the Kelani River to pump out excess water,” another official working for the corporation said, pointing out that people living along the flood plains and next to canals have been hit hardest by the flooding, precipitated by heavy rains from May 15-16 that caused a sharp rise in water levels of the Kelani River.
“We have called for tenders on setting up several pumping stations and hope they will be completed by late this year or early next year,” the official, a Deputy General Manager (DGM) of the corporation, said.
She said agencies needed to discuss to what extent climate change was causing such destruction.
Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Commissioner V.K.A. Anura rejected accusations that the drainage systems under CMC control had not been properly maintained.
“The bottom line is that we have not received this much of rain in Colombo since 2002. We were simply overwhelmed by the deluge,” he said. Mr. Anura likened what happened to having a barrel of water poured on the ground at once instead of a tap being turned on.
The Municipal Commissioner conceded the drainage system in Colombo was extremely old and in need of urgent renovation. He said several projects were underway to improve the system but these would take up to two years to complete.
Department of Irrigation Director of Irrigation (Assets Management and Disaster Management) H.M. Junaid said heavy rainfall in areas upstream such as in Deraniyagala, Kithulgala and Hanwella had contributed to the rise in water levels along the Kelani River.
He said the main concern for authorities was that the water level in the river was continuing to fluctuate as heavy rains in these areas continued.
While many of the affected who lived next to the river had been living in illegal constructions, Mr. Junaid said he did not believe that illegal constructions or the dumping of garbage had played a decisive role in this particular flood. “The rains were simply too much,” he said.
The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development has ambitious plans set out to control flooding in Colombo.
Tenders are to be called soon to construct two underground tunnels to take rainwater to the sea as a long-term solution, Ministry Secretary Nihal Rupasinghe said. He pointed out there were currently only four main outlets to discharge Colombo’s rainwater. These are located at Wellawatta, Dehiwela, Nagalagam Street and Mutwal.
When the water level of the Kelani River rises to this extent, however, these outlets cannot cope with the volume of water. Flooding also forces authorities to stop discharging water from Nagalagam Street, which is an outlet to the Kelani River.
Mr. Rupasinghe estimated it would take roughly another two-and-a-half years for the tunnel system to be put in place to control the rainwater more effectively. He stressed improvements to the drainage system was being done in the meantime in areas such as Kolonnawa and Grandpass.
Not Just Climate Change And Global Warming
by Emil van der Poorten
As one who believes that climate change driven by man’s insistence on refusing to accept that his behaviour is responsible for global warming, I have little doubt that the catastrophic weather we have experienced and are continuing to experience as I write this could have been avoided, to a significant extent, if we lived up to our boast that we Sri Lankans are more intelligent than the ‘lesser’ mammals!
That said, let’s look at what factors other than willy nilly industrialization, with the attendant indiscriminate use of non-renewable fossil fuels, have contributed to what has been happening in Sri Lanka in the past couple of weeks.
Many in our neck of the woods who are in no danger of being engulfed by floodwaters are living in fear of boulders above their very modest habitations coming loose and burying them in the houses that they occupy. Interestingly, in an area that is extremely rocky, this was never a concern in the past.
Why? Because there was vegetation that would have stopped any errant boulder before it could do any damage. Not only are those ‘guard trees’ gone but the steep hillsides have suffered very serious erosion since the clearing of this land. You might well ask, “How did this come about?”
Well, in the “bad old days of Empire” and for several years after Sri Lanka became independent, the hilltops were ‘Crown reserves,’ if I remember the terminology right. It was an offence to, in any way whatsoever, try to change the vegetation there.
The landslide in Aranayake, Kegalle buried three villages – Siripura, Elangapitiya, and Pallebage last week
Similarly, the road (now Highway A10 connecting Kandy & Kurunegala), had a ‘Crown road/river reservation’ between it and the Dik-Oya, one of the two source streams of the Deduru Oya. This used to be leased to an adjacent land-holder who could only ‘enjoy’ whatever the leased land produced. On no account was the existing vegetation to be changed and that included an absolute prohibition on any type of construction. This prohibition has, seemingly, disappeared because there is a string of habitations and an even more substantial number of eating houses (“hotels”), inclusive of one locally- famous establishment which straddles the Oya concerned! Now isn’t that a “first:” being able to sit down to a meal with a river running under one?!
You would be hard put to find even one of these establishments that has waste disposal of any description. Why should they bother because guess where garbage goes? As for toilets and human-wastes a little vignette might be appropriate at this point.When the A10 was being carpeted around what is now the 17th Km marker, one enterprising local took advantage of what was intended to be the temporary removal of a large cement direction sign, by the Road Development Authority (RDA). On completion of carpeting of that particular section of the highway, when they sought to place the sign where it used to be, they found the space occupied by a Petti Kadey, a small kiosk. When they and those concerned about the sign being removed sought to put it back where it was, the owner of the Petti Kadey established ‘title’ to it by the simple expedient of having the local Pradeshiya Sabha issue a receipt (back-dated) for ‘payment of acreage tax’ or something to that effect.
Do I need to add to that narrative the fact that the most powerful politician in the area was a member of the Cabinet at the time and is still a member of that august body despite an alleged change of government and governing philosophy?Back to where this piece began: guess what happened to the hilltop forest reserves? Particularly, since Land Reform and Mr. Kobbekaduwa’s “emancipation of the Kandyan peasantry?” They became a happy hunting ground for those seeking any wood that could be sold.
Making that situation worse was the fact that, increasingly, because lower and lower grade timber was found acceptable for one use or another, trees that might have escaped the woodsman’s axe were cut down and sawn notwithstanding the fact that those doing so had no legal claim whatsoever to them.
This ‘hilltop invasion’ did not appear in isolation but was part of a larger devastation of the tree cover of the plantation land below. First the Jak (Artocarpus integrifolia) and other hard woods, Sapu (Champaca indica) and Lunumidella (Melia dubia) went, followed by the rubber trees which were felled for lumber (the bottom part of the trunk) and firewood (the rest of the tree). Then came the cocoa trees which also went to someone’s open-hearth fireplace! In a short time one of Sri Lanka’s largest cocoa estates (originally about 1500 acres) did not produce so much as one bean, leave alone thousands of pods of this now-very valuable crop!
What took its place? To the greatest extent, an invasive grass – ‘Guinea A’ – originally introduced for dairy cattle which even then did not exist in a number that could make a dent in the Guinea A production! Now however, with the tree cover removed, this grass proceeded to grow to giant proportions, sometimes 2, 3 metres high!
Guinea A, as any one encountering it will vouch, does condition the soil because its roots loosen the top soil enabling the rain water to penetrate deeper than it otherwise would. The bad news is that if this grass is killed by burning, the now-soft top soil can be easily eroded and in the absence of stone terraces, contour drains and silt-pits which used to be the order of the day in the matter of soil conservation in plantations of this kind, the damage can well be imagined.
Remember also that dry ‘mana,’ the local name for this high grass, burns very brightly and even if an arsonist is not born every day in our neck of the woods, there are enough of them to put a match to the grass every dry season. Another little result of this burning is the fact that the smoke kills off the wild bees in the vicinity. And guess what killing bees that are, by far, the most important pollinating agents on earth, do?
Bad enough? Well, right within sight of our home, one of our neighbours is in the process of cutting down and selling for firewood acres of rubber trees, not replacing them with any other vegetation. How do I know the history of these trees? Because I was responsible for having the damned things planted about half a century ago! When I remarked on this fact to the local Grama Niladhari who is only too ready to invoke the law in other circumstances, she wanted me to make a ‘report’ (to the Department of the Environment?) I didn’t want to upset her by suggesting that since she was aware of the devastation and had seen it, firsthand, action to stop this devastation could be initiated by simply contacting one of her fellow bureaucrats!
Yes, we can’t, in little un-industrialised Sri Lanka*, make a dent in global warming or climate change. We can, however, turn back the clock on the wanton destruction of our environment and the dire results of what has already been done by the simple expedient of applying time-tested, practical methods.
The problem is that all of that is dependent on one simple reality: a return to the rule of law and the application of that law without fear or favour.
Given what prevails there lies the “crunch.”
குறிப்பு: தகவல் ஆதாரங்கள் புகைப்படங்கள் ஓளிநாடாக்கள் அனைத்தும், உள்ளூர் உலக ஊடங்களில் இருந்து எடுத்து தொகுக்கப்பட்டவை, நன்றி இதற்காக உண்மையில் உழைத்தவர்களுக்கு.