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17th May 1998

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Koslanda: Same story

By Hiranthi Fernando

In November last year, a massive landslide devastated Naketiya in Koslanda. The road, bridge and several houses were swept away and buried under the earth. The road from Beragala to Wellawaya was impassable.

A temporary road was constructed by the Road Development Authority of Bandarawela, to enable traffic to resume on the route. Authorities feared however that the slide may not have settled.

Their fears were realised last Sunday when the earth from the hills came sliding down with the heavy rains, once again burying the road and rendering it impassable. It was fortunate that nobody was living there since the last landslide.

“Although we feared that the earth would slide again, we expected the road to last till the rains in December,” said Mr. Warnakulasuriya, Executive Engineer of the RDA, Bandarawela.

“The earthslip has occurred earlier than we thought.”

He explained that the landslide is activated and is still sliding.The earth started sliding on Saturday and came crashing down on Sunday night. About 200 meters of road which was constructed a few months ago is now impassable.

“It is impossible even to walk across the area for fear of being buried, since the earth is still sliding. We constructed this stretch of road spending several lakhs because the people of the area pressed for it,” Mr. Warnakulasuriya said.

“Now we are unable to do anything until the rains cease and the earth stops sliding.

Mr. Warnakulasuriya added that geologists and other research specialists from the RDA Research Division had to carry out investigations to decide whether the road should be constructed again.

“It may be an unnecessary expenditure if the sliding has not stopped,” he said.

“We have to concentrate on finding a detour.”

“Investigations are being carried out to determine whether the stream could be diverted to the next valley so that it would not cause earthslips during rains,” an officer from the RDA said. He added that they were also considering finding an alternate road further south of this one, to cut across from Belihuloya to Koslanda, avoiding Naketiya.

“It is difficult to stop these occurrences. Also, when there is a long dry spell people tend to forget about the possibility of a landslide.” He explained that more investigations and observation was necessary before a final decision could be taken. Until such time, it might be possible to redo the road temporarily to allow traffic to resume.

The Divisional Secretary, Haldemulla, H.L.S. Wijesinghe confirmed that nobody was living in the landslide area. The eleven families affected last November have been given 30 perches of land each on Koslanda Estate.

They have been given a grant of Rs.10,000 as well a loan of Rs. 20,000 to reconstruct their houses. Mr. Wijesinghe said that further down the slope, at Ranasinghegama, there were five families who had been living in fear of the landslide.

Their houses has not been damaged but the mud from the landslide has brushed against their houses. These families too have been given the option of taking 20 perches of alternate land on Koslanda Estate.

Mr. Wijesinghe said that to reach Koslanda, the villagers had to go by foot about 2 kilometers. The buses from Beragala go through Poonagala and Bandarawela to Wellawaya.

The Divisional Secretary added that the secretariat had sent a report on the landslide situation to the Social Services Ministry. The secretariat had also asked the Transport Ministry for a suspension bridge across the earthslip area. Ms. Hema Ratnayake, Minister of Women’s Affairs, who is the Member of Parliament for the area, has also inspected the site and is also endeavouring to have a suspension bridge erected.

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