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Disaster risk overlooked in Sri Lanka expressway project

ECONOMYNEXT – A section of Sri Lanka’s first expressway gets flooded during heavy rains as disaster risk reduction measures such as elevating the road were not implemented as originally recommended, an expert said. 

The southern expressway linking the capital Colombo to Matara passes through several river basins and low lying areas.

Recent floods caused by rain have disrupted traffic on the expressway, which has altered drainage patterns, and also affected the lives of people living alongside.

United Nations Development Programme Technical Advisor Buddika Hapuarachchi said recent floods show disaster risk reduction measures were not adequately included in designing southern expressway.

“The EIA (environmental  impact assessment) of the southern expressway mentions that over Kalutara the road passes low lying areas,” he told a forum on disaster risk reduction planning organized by the Disaster Management Center with UNDP support.

“It was recommended that the road be built on pillars.”

But Hapuarachchi said their discussions with Road Development Authority officials revealed that the designers failed to recognise the road passes over low lying areas in Kalutara when the design was done.

“This shows how the vulnerability and hazards of people are being reshaped by the southern expressway simply because of the lack of attention to disaster risk reduction in this area.”

Environmental groups had raised concerns about flooding during the expressway construction including the need to build the road on columns over low lying stretches.  (Colombo/November 29 2015)






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