Pahala Kadugannawa, an iconic landmark in Colombo Kandy main road is still at risk. Landslides are also reported around the railway line above the place where the fruit stalls of pahala Kadugannawa on Kandy Road. Relevant authorities are tirelessly working together to prevent this natural disaster. Athula Senaratne, Senior Professor, Department of Geological Research, University of Peradeniya of of the scientists who foresaw the danger early is also in the operation. Now how does this operation happen ?.
This is the story that Professor Athula Senaratne told us.
What is the latest situation in Kadugannawa?
At present, on-site inspections are being carried out at a very high level. At the university level, geologists, the Road Development Authority, the Irrigation Department, National Building Research organisation all of them have been heavily involved in various fields. I would like to say that everyone is committed to see an end here every moment of the day and night.
Professor, What is the process of stabilizing the unstable terrain?
The main action to do is to take steps to prevent the continuous flow of water underneath the space in this area. Water does not flow down a specific path, that is, through a drain or stream. Water has seeped in and out of open spaces. Polythene has been temporarily put in place to prevent this situation. Also, water is allowed to flow down through the bags made of polythene. This was done only to face the current rains. Moving water down through the polythene temporarily prevents further loosening of the soil layer. At present, temporary measures are taken to prevent the water saturation of the soil and water is discharged to prevent leakage
It is a temporary solution. A pipe system should be set up to drain the water as a long-term solution.
We have to pump water from the top to the bottom with a drainage system using pipes for a long time. We are now planing to do the same in this section
Kandy Road has been built for over a century. But such a situation was not reported. Have you identified the root causes of this?
Yes, it has been nearly a hundred years since this road was built. During that time the maintenance methodology took place from time to time. Most of the maintenance took place only on the railways and the highway. We all have to admit that there has been no continuous monitoring of the terrain, especially the soil conditions, in the surrounding areas. A landslide has now erupted in the section between Colombo Kandy Road in the lower Kadugannawa and the railway line running above. This situation has also arisen in the Kandyan railway section.
Now we have the opportunity to survey the surrounding areas. Accordingly, we are currently monitoring what is happening on the rock layers and what level of changes have taken place in the upper and lower rock layers of such roads.
Are there other routes with such risks?
Roads in mountainous areas are prone to landslides during the rainy season. Therefore, we hope to conduct a meticulous study on the intensity of major roads in the mountainous areas of Sri Lanka. We hope to study the mountain conditions, its rock and soil conditions, the foundations of the roads, … all of them.
In what areas is that research being conducted?
We hope to conduct a technical assessment in the future on dangerous areas such as Galagedara – Nuwara Eliya, Ella – Wellawaya, some roads in Kurunegala and the Matale – Kurunegala road.
Because at the moment there is nothing impossible with modern technology. The other thing is that we have the ability to get international attention and advice on such routes. For example, when we oversee the construction of roads in many countries, including Afghanistan, we gain a very good idea of how to build roads while minimizing landslides in mountainous areas.