Floods swamp Modera and Mattakkuliya again | Sunday Observer

Floods swamp Modera and Mattakkuliya again

Outside Colombo, people are of the opinion that benefits of development are limited to the city itself. But a traveller in Modera, Mattakkuliya, Colombo, would not have a beautiful picture of the country’s capital.

Due to various reasons such as dilapidated roads, poor drainage system with overflowing toilets, unauthorised constructions, a canal system blocked by plastic and polythene, one cannot help wondering whether Mattakkuliya and Modera are areas in Colombo.

Amidst all these problems, the people living in the area had to face an unexpected disaster last week due to heavy rains in the afternoon.

After about fifteen years, most areas of Mattakkuliya were submerged in water last Monday (25). People spent nearly five hours in the water till some canals had been cleared.

According to the Meteorological Department there had been nearly 100 mm of rainfall reported on Monday from the Mattakkuliya area.


Pokunuwaththa in Mattakkuliya is one place which has suffered badly due to the flooding. According to the President of the Pokunuwatte Community Society, Susantha Warnajeewa, this has been caused due to the blocking of the main canal in Mattakkuliya and the recent construction on low elevation areas.

The dumping of garbage in the canal was a major problem for everyone. The floodwaters subsided within a few minutes after the canal connections to the Kelani River was dug with a backhoe. Pointing to a huge apartment complex just beyond the Pokunuwatte, Warnajeewa said that the houses were built on a marshy land.

“When we were little, it was just mud. Many of the houses in that area are now illegal constructions. So, there is no way to drain the water. If it rains for half an hour, the entire area will be covered by water,” he said.

Raw sewage

“ The area facing continuous floods with half an hour of rain has been a common incident in the recent past. However, the flood on Monday was the worst ever seen” said Kusum Athukorale who is a resident near the St. Mary’s Church, Mattakkuliya. Athukorale being a prominent social activist in the area of water and rights of the underprivileged, was very aware about the risks of this situation.

“What is most worrying from a health angle is the allegation that there is actually illicit discharge of raw sewage to the storm water drains. On a dry day you can get the smell at the Church road junction. So, the flood waters coming mixed with sewage has dire consequences to public health,” she explained.

The Church Road Junction is one of the worst places in the area. On the one hand, the wastewater treatment plant, which has been there for over 20 years, has become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae. Two people have recently died due to dengue from the neighbourhood is proof of this.

Terrible odour

Apart from that, there is a terrible odour coming from the surrounding drainage system. According to Lalith Chandrasena, a resident of the area, the wastewater from the toilets in the surrounding houses flows through the main drainage system.

“Some time ago we were told that the toilets in the houses would be connected to a main pipe. Accordingly, people placed their toilet pipeline underneath the road where the main pipe was supposed to be placed. But even after many years, the main pipe has not yet been put into place by the authority. So, the toilet water is flowing down the road”Chandrasiri noted.

The recent flood was a great disaster for shop owners. A grocery shop owner in Pokunuwatte, Balakumar Swami had been badly affected by the flooding. “My shop was completely submerged. A lot of goods was thrown away. I now have to bear all these loses. Also the toilet water in drains has entered our homes. This is the first time I’ve ever faced such a flood”,he said. Meanwhile, Director, Municipal Industries, Colombo Municpal Council, Eng.M.A.C.M. Fazal who is overseeing the subject told the Sunday Observer that steps are being taken to address issues in Mattakkuliya and Modera areas with especial attention to the waste water management. “We have already identified spots with flood risks. However, the funding is the problem we face in mitigating those problems ” Fazal said.

He also emphasised that the public also should support the authority in managing canals which transport waste water. “People throw away plastic into canals and it is a huge issue. However, we have begun a new program to monitor those canals with the help of environmental police” Fazal explained.

Pix- Sudam S. Gunasinghe