Just a month has passed by since the demise of Prof. Samantha Hettiarachchi. He was a pioneer in the teaching of Coastal Engineering in Sri Lanka both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in the early 1980s Prof. Hettiarchchi did an extensive project study of the behaviour of the Kalu Ganga outfall which traversed from one end of the sand bar to the other end regularly causing certain resistance and obstruction to the river flow. His observations were made known in one of his first research papers presented jointly with me in 1983 at the International Coastal Engineering Conference.
A Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London on receiving the sad news has sent a message stating “ …..I see Sam as a young and energetic man with many years left in him. What a tragedy for Sri Lanka…...”
His interests and entry into the field of Coastal Engineering were memorable. He was the Acting / Vice Chairman of the Steering Group which he steered, of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation system under the auspices of the UNESCO. This was an outcome of the December 2004 Tsunami devastation. After that if there was any threat or speculation about another Tsunami attack I would contact him. In doing so I was often told “don’t worry, if there is a serious danger I will let you know !”. For the record he read for his PHD in UK.
He was a devout Buddhist.
In the initial stages of his post graduate Coastal Engineering career he did a survey on the performance of the Fishery harbours around the island and later on proceeded on to the mega ones.
His fluency and eloquence in speech making with anecdotes will be well remembered.
(Emeritus Prof. Dayantha Wijeyesekera)