Floods: Fish or cut bait or Fishing in Troubled Waters??? or like Ostriches  Hide Their Heads in the Sand
Posted on May 28th, 2016

Dr Sarath Obeysekera /Ex Chairman  SLLRDC

Right for an opinion …………………………

I noted that The Island finally came up  today in the editorial with the root course of the problem of flooding . Publication and feature articles by so called eminent Irrigation Engineers blaming  the flooding problem on few  bridges  and some good work done by  SLLRDC under all the  regime along the canal  is all hum bug .

Editorial today has nailed the root course of the issues and also confirmed by the Prime Minister in the Parliament ( I am sure that when  PM mentioned this some MP’s would have hidden under tables ( like Ostriches  Hide Their Heads in the Sand )

Main cause of the flooding  is the encroachments and unauthorised filling of low   lying areas in Kotte ,Heen Ela ( near Lake Drive) and the vicinity of canals  passing Kirimandala Mawaatha  and Madiwela marshes  by many scrupulous business men  and politicians.


Let me start with Kotte .I reiterated earlier that main cause of the flooding of Kotte is the building of parliament which destroyed the serene natural beauty and few historical places of Kottte.

Near the parliament roundabout   there was a historically significant place called Kottagamtota which is mentioned in Selalihini Sandeshaya ( please correct ,me if  I am wrong ).All the marshes surrounding Kotte Ramparts were destroyed ..Water reaching the sea via Kotte and Madiwela marshes has to flow partly via Kollonawa and partly thru Heen Ela Marsh .

Cooray Mawatha marsh where canal crosses Nawala Road  has been  filled by  a building contractor who filled by force using political patronage .Famous Eagle Palace given to ex-president by the leader of the Labour party was in the marsh .Filling and building despite protest by SLLRDC ,and also  Cooray Mawath filling has been one of the causes of obstruction of free flow from Kotte March  to Heen Ela

Let me tell you about Heen Ela .SLLRDC is also a culprit (despite my involvement at a later stage ) filled the Victory Gardens in Heen Ela and gave lands not only to their officers  ,but to some eminent judges .

I had to even sign the deed of the land from Heen Ela land given to an ex chief justice at 15000 Rs per perch  and immediately sold at an exorbitant price !This area is behind the Oasis hospital  and along the right bank of the Heen Ela .

SLLRDC shifted the equipment yard which was burnt by JVP after signing of the Indian peace accord , from Kotte to Heen Ela left bank where current Redeco factory and the offices are located ( they should shift the filled land to may be to  Muthurajawela?)

Along the Kirimandala Mawatha which crosses this Marsh is also filled by Ceylinco to build a hospital, and right side also now used for stocking of sea sand .
To add to this misery of filling over 200 acres of land ,a  hitherto retention area was filled to build a playground instigated  by an important politician during last few years.SLLRDC filled the right side of Lake drive behind the Golf Course which has taken another 10  acres .

Another area was filled further to build a row of houses for a Politician. Left side of the Lake drive was filled by another businessman who even threatened me for warning him and for stopping to build a bridge across Lake drive Canal which restricts water flow .( I was told by the President to withdraw the police complain as he was one of the supporters at that time !)

The canal of Heen Ela crossing the Nawala Narahenpia Road is severely restricted by some new houses which came up during last few years ,and I never allowed that canal bank to be filled .On the left side of the crossing ,Lanka Wall tile has filled and severely blocking flow of water which joins the  canal coming from Nawala marshes .Further down Open university built a bridge to cross Nawala  Narahenpita Road .

If you drive along all the lanes to left and right of Nawala Rajagiriya Road you will see what a destruction has been done to all the marshes which were reserved for flood retention .

Finally the canal and river outfalls.

Installing mammoth pumps at canal outlets to pump water out is a stupid idea and it can never help the flow of flood waters .What the authorities can do is find a way to quickly remove the band banks forming at outlets ,my manually or by using a dredging mechanism.

Finally extended delay of Kelani water subsiding is not only due to formation of sand bank at Kelani outfall ,and also blocking few outlets from Hamilton Canal for building roads.  Kelani water trying to escape to sea from the blocked river outlet through Hamiton Canal flooded the area along Elakanda Road ..

Formation of sand banks of Kelani outfall is severely aggravated by building of the Break water of South Harbour ( you can check with Lanka Hydraulic Institute and verify)

This break water has directly has an effect of Marine Hydrology ,which causes change of wave pattern and diveting towards  Kelani Outfall and forms a very high sand bank .


 I may have to also hide my head for being part of this mess like an Ostriches  Hide Their Heads in the Sand !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dr Sarath Obeysekera /Ex Chairman  SLLRDC

2 Responses to “Floods: Fish or cut bait or Fishing in Troubled Waters??? or like Ostriches  Hide Their Heads in the Sand”

  1. aloy Says:

    Dr. Sarath,
    Towns and cities evolve with time. Most of the cities developed in low lying areas near river mouths because the navigation and hence transport of goods were done by boats and ships at a certain time. Perhaps Colombo was an adaptation of Kuala Lumpur. Which means a mound (or land ) at the mouth of a river in Malay. Recently when a Malaysian was talking about Kuala Lumpur I was thinking he was talking about Colombo because it sounded very much like Colombo. But these cities (including London) have grown up. It is definitely not by leaving out detention ponds. You make room for sufficiently wide waterways or making bunds for water not to overflow in to populated areas. To remove the bunded areas you install pumps. They may be mamoth. The archimedean screw pumps can be over 3m in diameter. Using these they keep Amsterdam dry. I recently designed and built a pump station to prevent floods in a low lying town of about 2 square kilometers by using such pumps. By having a series of them you can cover large areas. In isolated areas like Thummulla you can have a battery of large submersible pumps where water can rush into a chamber. That is how floods are prevented where I am working and these are quite effective.

    Please do not frighten politician about land filling and demand the detention ponds everywhere.

  2. aloy Says:

    These pump stations are not expensive at all. Of course when you engage foreigners they may become double or treble with commissions and so on.

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