Sri Lanka not immune to
disasters says Varsity don
Most people in Sri Lanka had the notion that this country was immune to all natural disasters, but the recent floods, landslides, droughts and more importantly the 2004 tsunami made everyone aware of the necessity of dealing with these great forces of nature, Engineering Faculty Dean Prof. S.B.S.Abeykoon said.
The tsunami disaster was a wake-up call for the decision makers of this country and we witnessed the setting up of the Disaster Management Centre and the allocation of funds for other related activities, he said.
Prof. Abeykoon was addressing the international seminar on ‘Mitigation of the Risk of Natural Hazards’, held at the Peradeniya University Engineering Faculty.
He said that as engineers he and his colleagues had been working mainly on floods and landslides and to a lesser extent on droughts, cyclones and earthquakes before 2004.
This work did not receive the attention it deserved until the tsunami disaster. Hence in addition to the work that is being carried out on mitigation of tsunami effects, this new interest of the decision making bodies of this country can be better utilized to expand the work relating to natural disasters which are somewhat frequent, he said.
If one looks at the data published by the Government on disasters that occurred between 1993 and 2001, it would be seen that landslides resulted in the most number of deaths while floods affected more families than any other natural hazard, he said.
It is well known that the occurrence of landslides is more frequent compared to the frequency of earthquakes and tsunamis, although the huge devastation associated with a tsunami is certainly not comparable with any other natural disaster, he said.
Prof. Abeykoon gave a brief background of the Engineering Faculty to the international participants present and said the initial intake to the Faculty was 25 and it was increased to 1509 by the time the faculty was shifted to Peradeniya in 1954.