Ad­vanced tools help re­duce nat­u­ral dis­as­ter risks

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS - By Ka­sun Warakapi­tiya

Projects un­der­taken with the co- op­er­a­tion of geotech­ni­cal ex­perts of Nor­way is help­ing Sri Lanka to re­duce the risk of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in some parts of the coun­try. The Nor­we­gian Geotech­ni­cal In­sti­tute ( Asia) re­gional man­ager, Ra­jin­der Ku­mar Bhasin, told the Sun­day Times the in­sti­tute is help­ing in land­slide mit­i­ga­tion in Badulla and Matale Districts, and also map­ping ar­eas in Matale and Jaffna that are prone to sub­si­dence.

The fund­ing has been pro­vided by The Royal Nor­we­gian Em­bassy in Colombo since 2012.

The NGI is pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to the Na­tional Build­ing Re­search Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the Min­istry of Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment. Work­shops are be­ing held and NBRO of­fi­cials are be­ing trained on mit­i­ga­tion of dis­as­ters, while field in­ves­ti­ga­tions are also un­der­taken. Drones have been used to map ar­eas vul­ner­a­ble to land­slides. Soft­ware and fast com­put­ing ma­chines have been used to gather and pro c e s s data.

“We ex­tended our project for an­other two years, af­ter land­slides in Aranayake and Meeriyabedda, and the col­lapse of the Meetho­ta­mulla garbage dump,” Bhasin said.

At the Meetho­ta­mulla garbage dump site, drones were used to make 3-D mod­els.

Mr Bhasin said seven au­to­matic weather sta­tions were in­stalled to mon­i­tor rain­fall in ar­eas where land­slides oc­cur. Warn­ings can be given when the rain­fall ex­ceeds a cer­tain limit, pos­ing a threat of land­slides.

NGI has also pro­vided ground pen­e­trat­ing radar to map sub­sur­face con­di­tions and to de­tect sub­si­dence. Ar­eas in Matale and Jaffna were mapped.

Mr Bhasin said the ground pen­e­trat­ing radar found a num­ber of sink­holes that had been cre­ated be­cause the lime­stone had dis­solved.

“When lime­stone is dis­solved by ground wa­ter, cav­i­ties are cre­ated,’’ he said, adding that houses built above such ar­eas could be­gin to show cracks.

In Jaffna, more in­ves­ti­ga­tions are be­ing done be­fore any new in­fra­struc­ture and build­ings are planned.

Re­mote sens­ing is also used to iden­tify lo­ca­tions prone to sub­si­dence.

Ground pen­e­trat­ing radar has been used to de­tect wa­ter seep­age in the dam of the Nachchaduwa tank.

“Ear­lier, the area of the wa­ter seep­age was not de­tectable but af­ter a sur­vey us­ing GPR, the leak­age was de­tected. Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions are be­ing car­ried out while mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts are be­ing made,” Mr Bhasin said.

The Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador, Thor­b­jorn Gaus­tad­saether, in a state­ment in De­cem­ber last year when equip­ment was do­nated to Sri Lanka said that Nor­way sup­ports a pol­icy to tackle the ef­fects of cli­mate change on hu­man set­tle­ments. He said that “an ef­fec­tive ac­tion- plan of mit­i­gat­ing dis­as­ter risks due to the ef­fects of cli­mate change is a pri­or­ity.’’

Nor­we­gian Am­bas­sador, Thor­b­jorn Gaus­tad­saether in­spects the equip­ment

Ra­jin­der Bhasin Pic by Athula De­vap­riya

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