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Sri Lanka’s Central Hills at risk: One-fifth of land prone to landslides

28 October 2023 06:31 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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One–fifth of Sri Lanka’s total landmass, particularly the areas in the central hills- is prone to landslides according to a study by the National Building Research Organization (NBRO).

According to the NBRO study, around 13,000 square kilometers of lands spread over in Badulla, Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy, Matale, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Kalutara, Galle, Matara and Habantota- are landslide –prone.

The study has found that incidences and frequency of landslides are growing, and it is common have such disasters including cutting failures along with every bout of rain.

The major causes for the increase in the frequency of landslides are un-planned land use practices and unplanned intensive cultivation, ever increasing non- engineered constructions, construction blocking the waterways, construction in the reservation area of water bodies, deforestation and human intervention.

Another study done Professor in Earth Resources Engineering University of Moratuwa and President of Institute of Geology Sri Lanka Prof. Ranjith Premasiri, major landslides which occurred during the past two decades have claimed thousands of lives, about 175,000 people have been rendered homeless. Besides, damages in multi-millions have been caused to property.

He says in his study the climate of Sri Lanka varies from semi-arid to mild temperature.

Sri Lanka can be divided in to three main climatic zones on the basis of annual rainfall- wet zone (over 3000mm annual rainfall), intermediate zone (2000 to 3000mm), and dry zone (less than 2000mm).

“Landslides are very often triggered by continuous rainfall characterized by showers of high intensity that occur for short periods of time. Central hilly area of Sri Lanka experiences rain from two monsoons, North-East and South-West,” he said.

Sudden opening and progressive widening of cracks on sloped surfaces or on the walls of building are signs of landslides. (Kelum Bandara)


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  Comments - 6

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  • Tissa Fernando Saturday, 28 October 2023 07:01 AM

    If you defy the nature , the nature will get back to you. I have seen videos of you tubers about a 7 star hotel constructed on a hill top inside the Sinharaja reservation. This kind of environmental damage will result in more damages somewhere else.

    D P P Prasad Saturday, 28 October 2023 10:16 AM

    First of all unauthorised constructions which are located in the stream reservations and the steep areas should be removed and such areas should be planted with fast growing trees and grass species in order to prevent the top layer of the soil from the continuous erosion. Subsequently other techniques should be implemented to reduce the surface infiltration

    Onlooker Saturday, 28 October 2023 10:17 AM

    I mentioned in 1985 (unrecorded) that the construction of the reservoirs will eventually lead to this as the seepage in thirty years and will destabilise the existing equilibrium of the top surface of land below these dams. How come areas downstream of the reservoirs only experience this while in other parts of the country, still it is stable.

    Yoga Saturday, 28 October 2023 10:43 AM

    Who approves the cultivation in highly environmentally sentizied areas and selling of forest land and other areas which can digger land slides. If you go Devon waterfall can clearly see some started cultivating on a very slopy land and the extent encroachment gradually increasing

    johan Saturday, 28 October 2023 10:52 AM

    When I was in Tea Plantations before 40 years the tea planters use to identify those areas where land slides tend to occur and use to plant grasses that prevent landslides.Unfortunately I do not have the botanical names of those grasses and plants.Better the Plantations Minister must take initiative in a scientific manner because we do not find planters these days with botanical knowledge in tea estates because tea estates have gone to dogs after companies took over.

    Risky projects Sunday, 29 October 2023 04:26 PM

    it is interesting that planting special variety of grass is mentioned to control landslide. But did anyone remember the Uma Oya Project that caused damage to the hill country. It was just a news item, and was forgotten by everyone. Thee projects cost millions if not billions.


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