Immediate measures to check floods
380ha of flood retention areas reduced to 266ha:
In the aftermath of last week's floods, which brought death and
destruction in the Western Province, immediate measures to prevent
further floods will be taken by state institutions on the directive of
President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (SLRDC),
which maintains the major canals in the city has found that the main
causes for floods are blocked drains and canals, unauthorised
constructions and the century-old drainage system in the Colombo city,
which fails to absorb the present high volume of water, or carry the
water to the sea. These blocked drains and canals will be cleared soon
under the first phase.
SLRDC General Manager Gamunu Allawattegama told the 'Sunday Observer'
that a coordinated effort, with the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC),
Road Development Authority (RDA), Urban Development Authority, SLRDC and
other state agencies, to have a sound flood retention system will be
According to Allawattegama, there was no major obstruction in the two
major outfalls - Wellawatte and Dehiwala but the feeder canals that end
up in major canals were blocked with garbage and the drainage system
maintained by the CMC has not been rehabilitated for decades and could
not absorb the high volume of flood water.
"The other main cause for this havoc is the filling up of flood
retention areas, which were identified some years ago. Over 380 hectares
of land in Heen Ela in the Kotte area, Kolonnawa and Nawala have been
identified as flood retention areas but there are only 266 hectares of
land remaining and the rest have been filled illegally", he said.
However, several measures have been taken to solve the problem.
Instructions have been given to clear, de-silt and commence operations
on the Mutwal Tunnel immediately.
"This has not been operational for years and once it is opened it can
take five cubic metres of water per second and the floods in the
northern region of the city can be solved", he said.
The second is the outfall to the Kelani Ganga, the North lock at
Nagalagam Street which has the capacity of taking 10 cubic metres of
flood water per second. A new pumping system will be introduced and the
gates will be improved.
"The pump at St. Sebestian Place, which drains flood water to the
Beira Lake will be re-activated and de-silted soon. The boulders lying
underneath the Wellawatte canal when the bridge was built and the
railway station are also blocking the smooth flow of flood water.
We will take steps to remove the boulders", Allawattegama added.
According to the SLRDC General Manager, the 'mushrooming condominiums',
which lack proper sewage and drainage systems, is another cause for
frequent floods in the Colombo city.
"When the local authority and Condominium Authority approve building
plans they pay scant attention to the drainage and sewage systems. The
present drainage system in the city has not been rehabilitated in
keeping with the rapid development in the city", he said.