By Shezna Shums
A month after the heavy rains and floods hit most parts of the country a number of people are still remaining in Internally Displaced Camps (IDP camp).
Many of the affected people have returned to their damaged homes while some didn’t have a house to return to as their houses had been completely destroyed.
As of last week the Disaster Management Centre had recorded that 13 IDP camps were still in operation providing shelter to 218 families, the families consisting of a total of 847 persons.
Currently the Disaster Management Centre has said that in Matale, 84 houses were situated on a landslide risk area and that the residents of 40 houses had moved out to live with their relatives on the advice of the National Building Research Organisation, (NBRO).
To date the total number of houses partially damaged by the floods remains at 15, 970 while the number of houses that are fully damaged stands at 2, 360.
The number of people still affected by last month’s natural disaster is 50, 038 consisting of 13, 887 families.
The floods and rains have caused 43 deaths and left 51 persons injured. The number of people missing owing to the disasters is four.
January saw floods, landslides and heavy winds in many parts of the Island, which the Meteorology Department said will have to be expected in the future given that the country is experiencing the La Nina effect.
Some years ago the country came under the El Nino effect and it is now under the La Nina effect, which brings with it excessive rainfall.
Following the heavy rains in many parts of the country, large extents of paddy lands were inundated. However the government is confident that there will be no shortage of paddy as most of the paddy is resistant to water and only a small percentage of the paddy crop has been damaged.
However with regard to vegetables, a large amount of onion cultivation has been damaged resulting in onions having to be imported; both big onions and red onions had to be brought down from Pakistan and India.
The recent rains also caused damage to vegetable cultivation, and the impassable roads prevented lorries from transporting vegetables from the main vegetable and fruit growing districts to the city and the major towns. The dearth is apparent even today with the high price of fruits and vegetables.
In addition to the floods waters damaging vegetable and fruit cultivations in some agricultural districts the excess water released from the reservoirs and tanks also flooded several cultivation lands causing further damage.
Another issue following the floods is the damage caused to the road infrastructure in the country. Many of the roads, both main roads and smaller roads became waterways during the heavy rains and have now been either totally or partially damaged.
The districts which were affected by floods, landslides and strong winds were Polonnaruwa, Moneragala, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Kandy, Ampara, Trincomalee, Matale, Ratnapura, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar.
Following the destruction caused by the floods the Government is taking action to build 10 new tanks in and around Colombo to hold flood water, at a cost of Rs.400 million.
Accordingly, five tanks are being dug at Rampalawatta in Pelawatta, Talawathugoda, Heen Ela at Kirimandala Mawatha in Narahenpita, Peliyagoda and in Diyawannawa near Waters Edge, under the first phase of the project.
The five tanks, currently being built are expected to be completed by the middle of this year and work in Rampalawatte, and Peliyagoda is nearing completion, said the Chairman of the Land Reclamation and Development Corporation, Harshan de Silva.