20 pc of country's land area vulnerable to landslides


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

About 20 per cent of the country’s total land area, which amounts to around 13,122 square kilometres, is vulnerable to landslide hazard, says the Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

Referring to statistics of the National Building Research Organization (NBRO), Minister Yapa told the media at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headquarters in Colombo yesterday that the landslide prone areas had been categorized into most dangerous, dangerous and least dangerous zones and the Samasara Hill in Aranayake in Kegalle District had been identified as most dangerous zone.

Therefore number of families in Aranayake area had been evacuated to temporary shelters, the Minister said.

According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), in the Kegalle District, 40,223 people were affected by landslides triggered by heavy rains during the last two weeks and 10,336 people had been relocated to 113 safe locations.

Highlighting the nature of the landslide that occurred in Samasara Hill in Aranayake, Yapa observed that the landslide had occurred through the residential area and nothing has happened to the forest area."

The blocking of water ways in hill areas had been the main reason for many landslides, he said adding that it was important to introduce natural mitigation methods to the landslide prone areas.

The affected people would not be sent back to their homes in Aranayake, which were situated at high risk landslide prone areas and those areas would be given to owners only for the agricultural purposes. Other landslide prone areas would be mitigated.

The landslide prone areas couldn't be called non-suitable for residential purposes but those areas could be used after a proper mitigation, Minister Yapa explained.

People who were currently staying temporary shelters would be sent to a permanent shelter until the construction of their houses were completed. Lands for the relocation of the people living in landslide prone areas had already been identified in Deraniyagala and Kandy and the NBRO would conduct further research in landslide prone areas, he added.

The Minister also noted that Rs. 18 million had been allocated to remove garbage in the areas which were inundated by recent floods and another Rs. 141 million had been allocated for the development of the canal system in the Kelani River valley.

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