Sri Lanka: Beira Lake Will be Dredged, Says Official

“As a country emerging from the shadows of terrorism into a bright, prosperous future, Sri Lanka has many challenges to face and many opportunities to exploit“, stated Secretary Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

He expressed these views today (March 20), delivering the keynote address as Chief Guest at the inauguration ceremony of the World Bank initiated High -Level Policy Workshop at the Cinnamon Grand, Hotel in Colombo. The two day workshop for professionals and policy makers under the South Asia Region Urbanization Knowledge Platform, concentrated on ‘Sustainable Urban Regeneration and Inclusive Growth for South Asian Cities’.

The Government has a clear intention to upgrade the quality of life of the people in slums and shanties by providing them proper housing facilities. It is not only important to give them much higher quality places to live in, but also to facilitate a better quality of community life for them”, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa further asserted in his speech on the ‘Challenges of Urban Development from a Sri Lankan Perspective’.

Mr. Ming Zhang, Sector Manager, Urban, Water and Disaster Risk Management, South Asia, World Bank, Guest of Honour, Jesse Robredo, Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippines and Ms. Abha Joshi-Ghani, Sector Manager, Finance Economics and Urban Development, Urban Unit, World Bank were also the distinguished speakers of the morning secession at the event.

The problem of flood prevention is another area of great concern for the Government. This problem was caused as a result of the increase in Colombo’s population over the years. As the housing stock expanded, low-lying areas and marshland were filled for construction purposes. This seriously reduced the catchment areas available for water retention, and construction related activities also often obstructed the canals and waterways critical for drainage. As a result, the monsoonal rains can cause significant flooding in Colombo. Solving this problem requires a number of different initiatives.”

“One solution presently being implemented is the dredging of lakes to create water retention tanks in the upper catchment and lower catchment zones of the Kotte area. Further, under a programme to be funded by the World Bank, the drainage infrastructure of the city will be greatly strengthened. Under this Metro Colombo Urban Development Project, the historic Beira lake will be renovated. The lake was developed as the centrepiece of Colombo’s drainage mechanism by the Dutch more than two hundred years ago. However, it has been largely neglected for many years. In the recent past, steps were taken to clean its canals as an urgent response to the growing flood problem. Under the new programme, the entire lake will be dredged and its floodgates will be repaired. The creation of micro drainage systems and the creation of linear parks around degraded wetlands, together with improvements to existing canals and lakes have also been identified as important initiatives. In addition, institutional strengthening of the agencies responsible for the city’s drainage and public infrastructure will be undertaken through this project. This will help enable better long-term management of these issues,” said Mr. Rajapaksa.

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Dredging Today Staff, March 20, 2012;

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