Posted on May 22nd, 2016

Dr Sarath Obeysekera 

We keep  listening to the condolence speeches Ministers of  Megapolis ,Disaster Management, Finance Minster, .Prime Minister  etc ,which are quite soothing to our minds ,but not to the traumatised  folks  who have physically suffered .

There were opinions expressed about strengthening Building Regulations .and controlling of land fills etc which may have played a role in the Colombo City


Most of them have forgotten and failed to mention that the deluge created by the monstrous Kelani River is the result of inability of water to flow out to the sea.

No one has mentioned that Kelani estuary where the river enters into the ocean has been severely blocked by the  formation of Sand Banks  (sand walls )

During previous monsoons same sand banks were formed ,but not as severe as this year .

Reason ???

Newly built South Harbour Breakwater extending quite far into the ocean has considerably  diverted the strong waves and the dynamic forces created by the heavy winds  along the breakwater and aligned towards the Kelani outfall .

It is the main reason for the formation of higher sand banks ,which should have been  cleared as soon as possible

During the famous deluge in 1992 ,I have been at the helm of SLLRDC which was the culprit ( later !! ) of allowing unauthorised filling ( I would say under political Patronage) .

As the rain continued thru the night non stop ,I got into the double cab with my driver and a large umbrella and boots ,and hurried towards Dehiwela .Wellwatte and Muwal Canal outlets calling all the officials to mobilize heavy equipment to  cut and remove the sand bank at the outlets which helped the flood to subside to a certain extent.

When the heavy rain started upstream of Kelani River few days back ,urgent action should have been taken to remove the sand banks off Mattalkuliya river outfall.

When the weather got more and more hostile ,deployment of heavy machinery is not possible

There is a new dredger owned by the Ceylon Fishery Harbour corporation , but no one even thought of using it to cut the sand bank

As this flooding phenomenon will be repeating quite often due the changing direction of waves  owing to the new break water ,it is  necessary to carry out Hydraulic Model by Lanka Hydraulic Institute  ( LHI) and suggest  remedial action

Until this is carried out by making a scaled model, Government should buy a long arm trailing suction dredger which will have suction arms installed in forepeak of the ship to cut the sand bank by suction of sand.

I am sure that LHI does not have Harward Educated wizards ,but we know that there are  few in Megapolis and other Development Agencies

Can they come forward and guide the short sighted bureaucrats  who could have suggested some advanced action to minimize the damage ??

Dr Sarath Obeysekera


  1. Ratanapala Says:

    We have experts in the Sri Lanka who provide similar services to other countries. I wonder why such services are not utilised. Dr Ranjith Galappatti my batch mate is one such and an expert in hydraulic modelling. He has done extensive work for Bangladesh in controlling floods of the Ganges delta. Why go half way round the world to Harvard?

    He is a product of our own Free Education System!

  2. aloy Says:

    LHI where Dr. Galppatti works does this kind of modelling in many countries. They did couple of coastal protection work where I am currently working. I introduced them to some consultants on this field recently also. These people are not given free hand to do work even in our country. They have to work as sub consultants to other foreign consultants who again are controlled by politicians although they are almost on par with world leaders like DHI (Danish Hydraulic Institute).

    When we want to work in SL we never get a chance, but other countries have confidence on us as we have done this type of work before. Couple of years ago I wanted to tender for the design of flood prevention pumps stations in Colombo under MCDUP which was a world Bank funded project. These type of pump stations can prevent the flooding that takes place like Thummulla and Horton place. I spent lot of time in preparing the documents, teamed up with another consultant with similar experience but was not even short listed, I did not have the political backing of the previous lot. I am now getting ready for the second phase of a similar project after completing the first one here.

  3. aloy Says:

    I read on the internet today that Hon. Patali is going to get South Korean help for his Megapolis development. I say, get help from anywhere but not to work for us on loans where deals will be worked out for some people to stash money overseas. This would further stretch the already strained people.
    Nobody will come to help us on matters like technology transfer. This will not happen even if the government put conditions in the contracts. Some time ago I wanted to tender for a consultancy job in the country where I work to design a box girder flyover and tried to get some engineers from SL to do the design. I heard some of them were working on OCH where similar structures were designed and built. I found that although our engineers have been assigned to the design offices of the foreign consultants by the government they were not given access to the software packages that they use for the actual design, as such they are in the dark. It seems a Philipino had been recruited by the company and he keeps the package under lock and key. Finally I had to get a party from New Zealand who turned out to be too expensive and the job went to somebody else. Like what Singapore did we need to use our own funds and use our own staff with necessary experience and do it ourselves. There are enough places in the world where we can get the basic training for our people in using the state of the art software packages. We have contractors with enough experience to handle expressways or high rise buildings.
    I hope the Hon. minister keeps this in mind

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