A catastrophe calling for new strategies

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By Uditha Kumarasinghe

Disaster Management Minister, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said they are now trying to amend the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) Act and insert a condition that, in future, prior to constructing a house or building NBRO approval should be obtained. However, we don’t want the people inconvenienced, either. We propose to give a time frame for the NBRO and request them to issue the certificate within four weeks. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the Minister said, at present, there is no Building Code and that they have prepared a document to formulate a new Code. He said, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has pledged to extend support in this regard. We intend to consult all stakeholders and table it in Parliament soon.

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Bad land use in Aranayake led to landslides

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Excessive clearing of forest and cultivation practices have contributed to making Aranayake and three hillside villages extremely vulnerable to landslides, an expert on landslides told the Sunday Observer.

Director, Landslide Research and Risk Management Division, R. M. Senarath Bandara said poor land use is a serious contributor to landslides, though often overlooked.

Bandara said the entire region should be mapped and declared as a restricted zone with no human activity being permitted.

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Tears from heaven

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Originally published in the Sunday Times
To many it was not ‘tears from heaven’ but a ‘flood of destruction’ as the skies opened out across Sri Lanka this week, causing tragedy, destruction and trauma.

In this hour of grief however, the business community aided by technology coming together – helping even rivals or competitors – and rising above petty jealousy or trading squabbles was the highlight of the week. The hard part however is in post-crisis rebuilding with donor fatigue already setting in.

The shining light across the week was the manner in which technology helped relief and rescue efforts. Relief for instance from helpful Sri Lankans was possible by just pressing a button via e-commerce webs like takas.lk.

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The need for a Disaster Prevention Ministry

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Originally published in the Sunday Times Editorial

The floods and the landslides in most parts of the country have put a literal dampener on celebrations to mark Vesak, the month that is significant to Buddhists throughout the world. None celebrate the occasion with such gusto as the Sri Lankans.

Nature’s forces are a grim reminder that humanity is at the mercy of such external factors and man can make it worse. In the midst of grandiose plans for a Megapolis in the Western province, thousands of families have been flooded out of their homes or marooned by swirling waters after just two days of incessant rains and some showers thereafter. The death toll is still rising.
Many man-made reasons are attributed to the flooding and landslides, not least haphazard ‘development’, bad urban planning, corruption within local councils and the pressure of population on available land.

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Latest population projection of 25 million poses serious challenges

Tuesday, 24 May, 2016

By Nimal Sanderatne

The most recent population projections expect the Island’s population to reach 25 million by 2042 and 25.8 million by 2062. It is expected to stabilise around the mid 2060s at 25-26 million. This is a significant departure from earlier projections that expected population stability much earlier at around 23-24 million in the 2030s and to decline thereafter.

This higher population growth that is mainly due to the recent increase in fertility from below replacement level to above replacement level, poses serious social and economic challenges in education, health, care of the elderly, public finances and retirement benefits.

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Weather mayhems are so predictable, and the entire island seems so vulnerable

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

By Rajan Philips

The SLAF acted swiftly to rescue a group of people marooned in the Tabbowa area. Helicopters were deployed in several areas to rescue people affected by torrential rains(pics courtesy SLAF media)

Floods and landslides have become more frequent than ever before. Our generation (post-war baby boomers) grew alongside a different rhythm of weather (not of heart) tragedies – 1947, 1957, 1964, 1978, 1986, and so on. Tsunami (2004) greeted the millennials and the weather gods have taken to more frequent devastation ever since. The odd thing about the current climate calamity is that it has struck virtually the entire island with the same intensity and at the same time. One newspaper report listed in full – 22 of the 25 districts as affected areas. Ampara, Batticaloa and Moneragala are the spared ones. And the source of the trouble – Cyclone Roanu, located in the Bay of Bengal, also seems odd for this time of the year. It has brought torrential rains to Sri Lanka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and finally Bangladesh.

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