No danger, remain vigilant | Daily News

No danger, remain vigilant

The water levels in many of the flooded areas are receding slowly, Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said yesterday as the government prepared for the long haul. The minister asked the displaced not to return home for at least the next two to three days as they expected the rains to continue. “The next step is looking after the people in camps. We have several in Kolonnawa and Kaduwela and while we have food supplies for them, we need to have more places for them to stay and build more toilets,”the minister said at a media briefing at the Department of Irrigation.

The ministry has appointed a committee to look into the basic needs of the displaced people. The ministry is also look into engaging in clean-up activities and monitoring of disease in camps.

He also refuted allegations of government shortcomings in disaster relief operations,

“We have not just allocated Rs 150 million for disaster relief. The President, Prime Minister and Finance Minister have made provisions to allocate as much as needed. The complete government machinery is in operation, there may be certain shortcomings with this level of disaster but we are trying our best. This is the first time we have faced floods to this extent,”Yapa said.

Meteorology Department Director K.H.M.S. Premalal said the Kelani River Basin had received 350 mm of rain (20 feet of water falling into the river) by May 15.

Minister Yapa added: “This is the first time that we have opened all seven spill gates of the Deduru Oya Reservoir.

“We must also realise that this devastation was also man made. Unauthorised structures along river and canals have slowed down drainage.”

The minister said: “Sri Lanka was a safe place but we now have to come to terms with the fact that climate change is having a strong impact on us. We have to face this challenge and have to make people aware of it.

“Building standards have to be updated and the Minister of Housing has promised to work with us to ensure that all new building meet strict NBRO regulations. We are getting a building specialist from Japan to help us design a new scheme,”he said.

The Ministry also offers a special insurance scheme to all who have been affected by disasters, ranging from Rs 100,000-2.5 million and people have been advised to take it. Irrigation and Water Resource Management Minister Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa said the Irrigation Department was helping in the cleaning-up of wells and draining of farming lands, “Clean all wells before using it,”he said.

He also said it would be better to have at least a 30feet buffer between the Kelani River and settlements in the future to avoid further blockages.

Secretary to the Ministry of Irrigation R.W. Ratnayake said the water level in Kelani river may fluctuate due to tidal currents but this did not mean that there as a rise. They expected the water levels to decrease in time.


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