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In light of the current disaster situation in the country, Sri Lanka’s Town Planners have called for a radical overhaul of the thinking processes behind new development plans including a change in the standards and regulations for construction and the procedures adopted.
Secretary of the Institute of Town Planners Sri Lanka (ITPSL), Planner H.M.U. Chularathna speaking to Nation said the macro-level planning that goes into evolving patterns of development as projected in the proposed Megapolis would have to take into account the density of housing and land use.
Chularathna observed that owing to adverse impacts of climate change felt worldwide, the issue under the present unusual conditions and unexpected circumstances was a complex one.
He said the situation would require the country to change standards, procedures, regulations and legal guidelines laid down by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the National Physical Planning Department (NPPD).
He added that other crucial aspects when planning ahead whilst incorporating progressive approaches would have to essentially involve weather pattern analyses and forecasting for potential natural disasters which are also in most cases exacerbated by human activity.
According to Chularathna, a constant process of revising, modifying and adapting is a must with regards to successful preparation for tackling unprecedented situations like the present one wrought by inclement weather.
In addition, Director General of the National Physical Planning Department (NPPD), Dr. Jagath Munasinghe pointed out that flash floods in Colombo were partly the result of individuals violating regulations imposed by the State’s Urban Development Authority (UDA) on building and construction activities.
He said the purpose of rainwater harvesting as proposed by the Government was not taken into consideration.
“The fact that Sri Lanka will soon experience more torrential, high intensity rain, and the fact that unplanned, unregulated and uncontrolled development is taking place at present as opposed development that is systematic and well coordinated, are all factors which will exacerbate the situations and conditions currently experienced by the people,” he mentioned.
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, Nihal Rupasinghe said that the megaplan contained strategies to establish three outlets to let water out during inclement weather conditions.
Accordingly, a pump house would be established in Grandpass to control the water levels of the Kelani River. In addition, outlets points would be established in Mutwal and another one via Baudhaloka Mawatha.
“We are seriously looking into the aspect of incorporating weather patterns into the plan and how to improve it,” Rupasinghe said.
However, Dr. Munasinghe said that short- term plans would yield results only for the next 15 to years and not beyond. “There are several projects presently underway to develop the drainage system. This was started two years back and will be completed in the next two years,” he said. “This is however a short term solution as it will serve Colombo only for 10 to 20 years despite the billions of rupees being spent on it. This will be impacted by rising sea levels and climate change,” he added.