A three-tiered approach comprising reduction of probability of flooding or dam breaks, sustainable flood-proof spatial planning and building, and conventional disaster preparedness that has been developed in the Netherlands was a key element of the comprehensive presentation made in the course of the 2nd LIRNEasia Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture by Dr Aad Correlje of the Delft University of Technology held on the 27th April 2011 at the BCIS Auditorium in Colombo.
The lecture also served as a memorial to the victims of the Kantale dam disaster in April 1986, 25 years ago. The documentary made by Divakar Goswami on the Kantale disaster was shown and a minute of silence was observed.
The response panel comprising Bandula Mahanama (a community leader from one of the worst flood-affected areas in the Polonnaruwa District), S. Karunaratne (Sri Lanka National Committee on Large Dams), Dr Kamal Laksiri (Ceylon Electricity Board) and Mr U.W.L. Chandradasa (Disaster Management Center) was ably moderated by Nalaka Gunawardene. Energetic participation by the audience focused on the incentive structures the privilege construction and rehabilitation over maintenance and the possibilities of getting communities involved in safeguarding the dams that form a critical part of Sri Lanka’s culture and self-image.
The presentation by Aad Correlje is here.
I was glad to anchor the discussion, and hope it adds to the momentum now building up for better operation and maintenance of dams and reservoirs.
I’ve just written about it on my own blog: http://movingimages.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/everybody-lives-downstream-but-not-with-the-same-peace-of-mind/
Note this para in particular:
“Lankans are justifiably proud of their ancient hydrological civilisation — but don’t take enough care of it. Nothing lasts forever, of course, but irrigation systems can serve for longer if properly maintained. In a world where extreme weather is becoming increasingly commonplace, we can’t afford to sit on 25 centuries of historical laurels. Unless we maintain the numerous dams and irrigation systems – most of which are still being used for farming – heritage can easily turn into hazard.”
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