Right to reply ……. Megapolis Vs New City   ( part 2 )..     by Eng Anton Nanayakkara ,,,,,,Retired Deputy Director Irrigation,,,,
Posted on May 24th, 2016

Ex-Chairman SLLRDC

I have sent an opinion yesterday 23rd May to The Island concerning the part 1 of the article published under the heading Megapolis Vs New City  written by the retired deputy director of Irrigation .

I  mentioned that the major part of the  information  and opinions given concerning the floods in Colombo and Kelani river  basin are somewhat incorrect and  baseless and  even advised that he should not  continue writing his opinions without  checking actual facts .

In part 2 published today regarding the Strategic  Plan to Develop Colombo East –Some special features envisaged in 1994 may be considered as a proposal suitable only for a utopian city .Surely it can never be a reality if you carefully look at the ground situation !

Under Figure IIIA, writer mentions with some venom and despise that it is difficult to dispel the feeling from our people that anything foreign is superior to what our own professional can do

And yet ……

In the article part 2 he mentions that It was at this stage that a Private Group of national minded professionals comprising of class mates of mine was formed under my chairmanship .A consultancy Firm from London was hired to study this subject at no cost to the government and end result was the report from London called Creation of a New City of Colombo”

I wonder how and why he used a London firm when he despised anything foreign as he mentioned earlier??

Then he says around this time  (assuming that it 1988) he talks about the involvement of  W S Atkins who prepared the feasibility study for Colombo Canal Development Project  and continues  to castigate the British Company and funded by Japanese Funding Agency ( OECF) .

He also mentions that on 6th of August 1991, many experts objected to the program, and I would like to mention that I as then SLLRDC chairman was leading the public forum.

It was never severely criticized, but there were opinions expressed by some retired engineers who had different views

When project was executed I changed the project name  Colombo Canal Development  project to  Colombo Canal  and Environment  Improvement Project as per the valuable advice given by the NHDA chairman ,my trusted friend Susil Siriwardane  who requested us to call it  Human Development through Colombo Canal  and Environment  Improvement

Unfortunately these technocrats have failed to appreciate the fact that we have relocated of 65000 people from canal banks and provided shelter simultaneously during the canal improvement.

Living proof is what you see near canals at Havelock road crossing and Kirilapona Crossing of canals and many more

We have isolated 1000 acres of retention area in Colombo and acquired the same. It is sad the writer never mentioned that 1000 acre retention area was the only hope for eradicating or controlling the floods in Colombo.

But to our dismay during the last 21 year politicians and scrupulous businessmen filled over 500 acres without any authority.

This is main reason for flooding today

Another misconstrued judgement he makes is that bridge near McDonalds is the reason for the flooding of Lake Drive which passes thru Heen Ela Canal

Heen -ela marsh leading to Wellawatte Canal outlet passes via Lanka Wall tiles and Open University was one of the main retention area, where filling was carried out by many with no proper authority.

Block of Flats   (Royal Park) built on a forcibly filled marshy land and sold at exorbitant prices and bought by rich people who built Luxury houses as claimed by him!

First of all I would like emphasize the fact that filling of the basin has been causing floods up stream towards Parliament Lake to a great extent

Lake drive will be flooding all the time and I am sure the inhabitants may have consider living upstairs throughout their life time ,( as he mentions ) and nothing can be done !!

I also noted that the writer has been writing about Lake Drive flooding in several articles, and sad to say the he does not recognize the fact that retention area of 1000 acres is of paramount importance for flood control,

Finally I would like to reiterate what I mentioned in my previous opinion that Kelani Floods has nothing to do with Colombo Flooding and that the Irrigation Department is fully responsible for not protecting Kelani Valley Basin and also for not clearing the Sand Banks formed at the River outfall.

I call this this is a curse by Weather Devil” rather than by Weather Gods”


Ex-Chairman SLLRDC

Opinion on the part 1 of the same article ……

First of all I would like to highlight the fact that the heading of the article in the Island Paper today 23/5 16 has no relevance to the content of the opinion.

It is like reading part of a Life Story and a memoire of the person who claimed to have done much for the betterment of the Irrigation.

Studies were done by him in the context of a much lower population in Colombo are with no value  in today’s context as these studies are outdated .

The claim that his tenure in the Reclamation Board was terminated prematurely for reasons he does not want to recall ,is quite amazing to read and that doors of the SLLRDC for entry of adventurer or opportunist I wonder who the writer means by this statement

First of all we all should blame Irrigation department and the Land ministry under Gamini Dissanayake for dredging the Kotte and Madiwela paddy fields and reclaiming the lands for new parliament ,which is the start of flooding and the misery undergone by the people ,

He also says the 1981 headline warned that parliament will get flooded and everybody laughed , and he says that 4th and 5th June 1992 parliament got flooded

I assume that parliament got flooded because the wise people in Irrigation and Low lying development board have miscalculated the safe level of floods at 7 feet where it should have been 9-10 feet

Actually building the parliament by filling paddy lands was the gravest mistake we ever made ,

In 1993, only committee room got flooded but after few years more area in the parliament got flooded , because politicians and scrupulous businessmen  filled 400 hundred acres  of retention area of 1000 acres reserved and acquired by SLLRDC  by 1995

This learned writer claims that floods in 1992 was caused by the  illegal gate constructed by SLLRDC .As the chairman of SLLRDC at that I would like to clear this misinformation .

When President Premadasa called a meeting to find a way to eradicate pollution due to toilet waste and other polluted water along St Sebastian Canal  ,SLLRDC and SLPA has jointly decided to pump water into the St Sebastian Canal  from Kelani River during drought period

There was no reason for whole of  Colombo to get  flooded due to this gate being closed  and now under world bank funding SLLRDC intends to install a bigger pump .

I am unable to comment on this as I have some reservations.

Again the flooding in 2010 has occurred due to illegal filling by people in lake drive area and in Narahenpita and Kotte Marshes reducing the retention area by 400 acres

When I protested against building a bridge across the Heen Ela to have access to the plot where a block of flats are built I was threatened by the owner .I complained to the police and then president requested me to withdraw the plaint as the culprit was a supporter

His claim about a purported gabion structure causing floods in Parliament area is absolutely baseless.

I noted that various gates and bunds installed upstream of Kotte basin does marvellous job despite a flood situation near Kimbulawala few days back

Filling of over 400 acre is the main cause of floods in Colombo today  and the writer forgets to mention the facts in his article

Kelani river flooding   is due to two reasons

Irrigation Department did not take any steps to control, and prevent the encroachments along the Kelani left bank which is within the river reservation and allowed politicians to fill hundreds of acres  from Nagalagam street to Hanwalla I can even name some politicians !

Many container yards ,factories were built reducing  the Kelani  Valley  basin

SLLRDC had no jurisdiction to prevent construction and filling along the valley

So the blame should go to Irrigation Department ??

Second reason for the flooding of Kelani River bank is caused by the sand bank built up at the river outfall.

I am confident that new breakwater built for south harbour is the cause of formation of high sand bank which prevents water out flow

Finally I would like highlight the fact that irrigation experts who have only drawn up nice charts ,maps and wrote reports to fill time ,have never contributed in any way to control the floods by PREVENTING ILLEGAL FILLING OF THE MARSHY LANDS

SLLCRDC may have had chairmen of various calibre and qualifications, but it was the task of politicians to guide them in the right track

During our time we were well guided and we had a tremendous task to carry out project implementation under able minsters and secretaries like Mt Aillaperuma

Irrigation engineers in Colombo were writing reports and drawing charts, but none of them contributed to eradicate the unauthorised filling of lands

( I was told by someone that a Director of Irrigation was recently asked by a journalist What are you doing these days as Colombo is under heavy flooding ,reply was amazing I am making some Wesak Lanterns with my children !!!!!!!!!!!! )

During our time we were standing near all canal outlets of Colombo clearing sand banks !

I suggest that the writer discontinues writing his article where at the end it says to be continued


Ex Chairman SLLRDC

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