Grim warning from ‘Himalayan tsunami’ to Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka’s Hill Country has experienced heavy rains this week. According to Disaster Management Centre, Watawala, Dikkoya and Ambagamuwa DS Divisions in the Nuwara-Eliya District were under flash floods. ( Experts point out that areas like Watawala had been rarely under the flood in the past, despite area receive highest rainfall traditionally. This surely be hints on that Climate Change is on our doorstep. 

Last month, India’s Hill Country Uttarakand has received over 400% rainfall in some parts bringing a disaster killing thousands, What Sri Lanka can learn from Uttarakand floods..? Here is my article published on SundayTimes on 28.07.2013 

Uttarakand floods

Devastating force of Uttarakand floods (c)

A few weeks ago, the Himalayan region faced a flood so devastating it was called Himalaya’s Tsunami. TV footage showed horrific images of large buildings being washed off hillsides by the floods. The official death toll topped 1000 but it is believed to be many times that as the number of people missing is high and rescue attempts are still being carried out in remote regions.

The Uttarakhand disaster was the result of extreme rains and haphazard development, Indian environmentalists said. The area received unusually high rainfall, causing rivers to swell. India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), in its journal Down-to-Earth, states, “The area has been denuded to a great extent due to deforestation and tree cutting for road construction, and other activities such as building construction, mining and hydro power projects. It has also resulted in increased surface flow and rise of river bed due to disposal of debris in the rivers.”

Some areas in Uttarakhand received more than 400 per cent of usual rainfall. What if Sri Lanka received such rainfall?
Watawala was flooded in May for the first time in recent history, so the possibility of floods in Sri Lanka’s own hill country is not remote. Centre for Environmental Justice spokesman Hemantha Withanage says such a situation would spell great danger. “We have cut down trees even on slopes of the mountains. Unplanned developments are being carried out in the area which has doubled the risk of landslides,” he pointed out.

The report on the Uttarakhand floods stated that the “floods turned into a major disaster when people, along with their properties and infrastructure, occupied such areas without adequate information, knowledge, awareness and preparedness against the potential disaster”. This could also be a lesson for Sri Lanka too. Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Media Deputy Director, Lal Sarath Kumara, pointed out that the intensity of rains created floods unexpectedly in many areas. In March, for example, the Deduru Oya flooded areas from Kurunegala to Chilaw after more than 100 years.

Mr Kumara said the DMC was ready for any eventuality and that a network of district-level regional centres had been set up with village-level disaster relief committees. If there were signs of a sudden disaster such as floods, the information would be passed to these regional units to take necessary action.

A house collapse - 10DeadInUttarakhandFloods

A horrific scene – a building collapse in Uttarakand

risky rescue operations

Risky rescue operations at Uttarakand

NuwaraEliya floods (c) DailyMirror

Recent floods in NuwaraEliya (c) DailyMirror

Published on SundayTimes on 28.07.2013

One Response to “Grim warning from ‘Himalayan tsunami’ to Sri Lanka”

  1. lankaonglobe Says:

    Reblogged this on Lanka on Globe.

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