Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Build better infrastructure or expect more floods, say Sri Lankan experts

Amantha Perera in IPS: Sri Lankans should be ready for more urban flash flooding, like those experienced in May, unless proper infrastructure is built to allow the onrushing waters to flow unhindered, experts warn. Sri Lanka was hit last month by its worst flooding in 10 years, as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), one of the international agencies that took part in the ensuing relief efforts, has described it.

The biggest cause of urban flooding in Sri Lanka is the lack of proper drainage, said S. Gunaratne, coordinator for the Colombo District at the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC). "What we have in Colombo is not flooding – it is a case of rain water having nowhere to flow," he told IPS.

"Look at the canals that are dug to take the rain water – they were at least 20 metres wide when completed. What has happened is that as people build on the side, the canals become narrow. When heavy rains come, there is no space (left)," he said. He added that the illegal dumping of garbage has made the canals shallower.

"There should be infrastructure facilities (to withstand floods and cyclones)," said Dr G. Smarasinghe, head of the Meteorology Department. He said while changing global weather patterns brought about by climate change were a major factor behind last month’s unprecedented flooding, it was made worse by the poor state of existing drainage facilities or the lack of such infrastructure in some of the typhoon-hit areas. Hence Sri Lankans should expect more rains and more flooding, he told the local media….

The coat of arms of Sri Lanka

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