Thoughts on Lanka as a diving medicine hub I wish to thank Kumudini Hettiarachchi for her feature on ‘Lanka as a diving medicine hub’ in “The Sunday Times 2” of February 23. I also wish to add something to it, based on the facts that I learnt in my diving days in the Navy in [...]


The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka



Thoughts on Lanka as a diving medicine hub

I wish to thank Kumudini Hettiarachchi for her feature on ‘Lanka as a diving medicine hub’ in “The Sunday Times 2” of February 23. I also wish to add something to it, based on the facts that I learnt in my diving days in the Navy in Trincomalee (50 years ago), and that I pioneered the establishment of Maritime Archaeology in this country (nearly 30 years ago).

When we (i.e.the Archaeological Department, the Central Cultural Fund, the Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology (PGIAR), the Maritime Heritage Trust and the Sri Lanka Sub Aqua Club) first started training and exploration in Galle in 1992-93, the importance of safety precautions, planning and discipline in diving operations  and regular personal medical/ health checks were dinned into us by our partners from the Maritime Archaeologists of the Western Australian Maritime Museum: a centre of excellence. That first season, a small decompression chamber was brought down from Trincomalee to Galle, courtesy of the late Adm. Clancy Fernando.  Whether this regimen in practised now by the Maritime Archaeology of the CCF, I am in doubt.

In the following months, a team from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, USA, will be collaborating with the Archaeology Dept. in a planned exploration of the Godawaya shipwreck site and, what is of importance is, that the INY team is bringing with them a qualified Hyperbaric Medical team and a decompression chamber. Whether our own divers will benefit from this move is yet to be seen. Certainly they should: the Navy chamber is in Trincomalee and divers needing it cannot be air-lifted there, because of the reasons Surg. Rear Adm. Ekanayake has explained.

It is essential that the Archaeologists, as well as all State or other institutions using divers to work under water, seek the assistance of the Navy for training and medical/health check-ups. I am afraid that this is not happening now.  Rear Adm. Ekanayake will not contradict me when I say that more than 90% of the beneficiaries of this equipment are non-naval persons.
It is in this context that I wish to heartily endorse the idea of setting up a facility in Colombo (for a start) for the use of all Sri Lankan divers (professional or not) as well as of advocating  the laying down of statutory requirements for professional divers from Sri Lankan institutions. All these institutions,  and particularly the great many Diving Stations which make their money from providing  recreational diving facilities should be able to fund the cost of this exercise.

It would certainly serve to make diving a more disciplined activity than bus, and trishaw driving!

Lt.Cdr.(Rtd) Somasiri Devendra,
Member, ICOMOS International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH)


Get going with widening the road from Kandy to Ampitiya

The project to widen the road from Kandy to Ampitiya  3rd Mile Post and beyond was supposed to have been initiated by the Govt. some years back.   Dilum Amunugama, the M.P. for Senkadagala Electorate convened a meeting of the residents involved in the area concerned at Siddartha Maha Vidyalaya, Ampitiya, about a year ago, explained the availability of the required funds and said that the project would commence as early as possible. There had been some legal constraints, I understand. However, the required surveys were done by the Survey Department and the Section 2 Notices under Land Acquisition Act issued by the Pradeshiya Lekam, Mahan-uwara  Gangawata Korale were received by us (the residents involved).

The ‘Kota- Kota’ bus service is operated by the private bus owners and as there are no CTB buses operating between Ampitiya and Kandy, children of the low income group are deprived of the privilege of using  season tickets. The widening would make it safe for all the commuters with a two lane road. Further, 30 minutes or more to travel 5 km. from Ampitiya to Kandy   is an unnecessary waste of  time. When compared to the recently widened and improved roads in the area the reason for the delay of this road is ridiculous. It would be much appreciated, if the RDA commences the project with the least delay.

T.B. Ekanayake


Travails of train travel

With the introduction of the Chinese and Indian power sets on the coastal lines, there has been a marked increase in the number of passengers. Not only is train travel cheaper, it is also quicker as a journey which takes four hours by bus takes just two hours by train.

After holidays and weekends though, the number of passengers increases and there is hardly any breathing space on these trains. Sadly the Railways hasn’t been able to cope with the situation as most of its officials, including the minister do not travel by train and so probably have not seen the inside of a packed train.

The Railway should make a detailed study and try to improve the situation. For a start they could extend the present Maradana, Hikkaduwa train to Galle and the two evening trains that ply from Maradana to Kalutara to Aluthgama.

The stops of Express trains should be revised since most of the commuters on these trains disembark at these stations. Priority must be given to long distance travellers, for example those travelling to Matara.

M.W. Raj

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.