ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

Landslide warning!

Kalutara, Matale, Kegalle and Kandy in danger

By N.Dilshath Banu

This year’s southwest monsoon, which is expected to begin in the third week of May, could trigger major landslides, the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) warned.

“There are two findings from studies that predict the possibility of having major landslides in some districts, such as Kalutara, Matale, Kegalle and Kandy. Precautionary steps must be taken to avoid heavy losses,” NBRO scientist H.G.S Ariyaratne said. Mr. Ariyaratne said that during the December 2004 tsunami, there was a sudden drop in the gravity of the earth that extended many miles from where the earthquake occurred.

File photo lanslide in Kandy

“When the gravity drops, the density of the mountains drops, leading to the danger of frequent landslides. Though the earth’s gravity is restored, the effects of the density cannot be changed. This low-density phenomenon had affected Sri Lanka, resulting in sudden landslides in areas which are tagged as no-landslide zones,” he said.

According to Ariyaratne, Ja-ela, Kandana, Kirindiwela, and Bahirawakanda which are not tagged as landslide zones are having landslides as a result of the density variation. Other studies of the landslide cycle show that this year’s south west monsoon could trigger major landslides. Ariyaratne said, major landslides usually occur in 20-year cycles. For example, in 1986 there was a major landslide in Walapane in the Nuwara-Eliya District. Last year, 125 landslides occurred in the same region after 20 years. He added that the major earthquakes in the ‘alert districts’ are finishing the 20-year cycle of major landslides. As a result we must be more alert during this monsoon season he warned.

With the warning of possible landslides alert District Secretariats are busy preparing to tackle problems arising from possible landslides as well as possible floods with awareness campaigns.

The Kalutara District Secretary, S. Hapuarachchi said the Divisional Secretaries were creating awareness among the people of Bulathsinhala, Palindanuwara, Kalutara and Mathugama Divisions of warning signs which could trigger major landslides.

He added that NBRO had issued a report to the Kalutara District Secretariat with recommendations to lessen the impact of possible landslides.

In Kandy District, Peradeniya, Suduhumpala which are situated along the Nuwar-Eliya main road have been identified as sites for possible landslides.

The Assistant GA of Kandy District, O.M Jabir, said awareness programmes for the areas which had been continuously affected by landslides had been held and warning notice boards/signs had been put as a means of cautioning the public.

He added that most of the landslides that occurred previously were caused by faults in clearing land for and during construction work.

The Assistant GA said the Municipal Council is the body which authorizes the construction of buildings and it would take action against persons responsible constructions which could lead to landslides.

The Matara GA H.G.S Jayasekara said that apart from awareness campaigns, loud speakers too had been provided to 11 police stations to immediately warn the populace in the event of a possible landslide or any other disaster.

He said the areas of Kotapola, Mulatiyana, Pasgoda, Pitabadara were endangered areas and help had been sought from the Disaster Management Units and the UNDP. He said necessary steps for evacuation and relief would be arranged.

Ratnapura District Secretary, Ms. Malani Premaratne said they were concerned about possible floods in the Pelmadulla, Elapatha, Kurivita, Nivithigala, Kalavana, Kiriella and Ayagama regions.

She said a disaster management plan for the district had been prepared and alternate areas for relocation and provision of relief were in place.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.