Sri Lanka to expand dam safety program

Feb 08, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will expand its dam safety program to cover more large reservoirs and will ask for additional funding from the World Bank following recent floods, officials said.

D C S Alakanda, who heads Sri Lanka’s Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning Project said the talks with World Bank to expand the project will begin next week.

The current project funded with a 7,500 million rupee interest free credit from the World Bank covers 32 out of 80 large reservoirs deemed to be most in need of rebuilding or having their safety improved.

Irrigation minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said most of the large dams in the country except for some built in the last three decades were made out of packed earth and they had a life of around 50 years.

Most of Sri Lanka’s reservoirs called ‘tanks’ date from a 2,000 year old irrigation based civilization.

“Some have leaks, cracks, parts of the bunds have sunk, and spill gates and other safety mechanics had to be re-habilitated,” he said.

As part of the project some dams were lined with granite rocks to stop wave action from washing the dams away. With almost all reservoirs now at spill level erosion from wave acti