We welcome the USD 71 million project to improve dam safety in Sri Lanka. LIRNEasia , together with several partners including the Sri Lanka Committee on Large Dams, Vanguard Management and Sarvodaya, did a lot of work on raising awareness of the impending dangers posed by ill-maintained dams, going as far as saying that a catastrophic dam failure in this reservoir-dotted country was not a question of if, but when.
The repairs will, we understand, address the most serious risks raised by the LIRNEasia participatory research. However, due to ill-informed protests of the opponents of water-use reforms and the weak-kneed response of the government agencies and the World Bank, the component that would have addressed the sustainability issues was stripped out after one exchange. So we have postponed the day of reckoning, but not created a long-term sustainable system for safe water use.