Controversy Over Port City Reclamation Resulting In Rising Groundwater Levels: Historic Buildings May Be Affected?

Sri Lankan geo-technical experts warn that there is an alarming trend in the rise of ground water level  in the Colombo Fort area due to reclamation for the Colombo Port City project. 

They say this might pose a danger to some of the old buildings in the area which are now identified as heritage buildings.

Dr Godakuru P Karunarathne, a geotechnical expert who had worked on sea-bed reclamation projects across the Asian region said, data collected by a Sri Lankan geotechnical engineering company, Soiltech Ltd, over a period of time from boreholes and tubewells in the Fort area, showed the signs of rising ground water levels in the area.

Dr. Karunaratne, during a recent presentation made in Colombo in this regard, said poor drainage along the Chaithya Road interface to the Port City reclamation area west of Colombo Fort was one such example. 

 He also stressed the need for relevant stakeholders and professionals conduct proper initial assessments and studies to ensure that any negative consequences of the protect are mitigated. 

"The highest rise is predicative when an assumption is made where reclamation is completed, drainage is poor and there is rainfall above 100mm per hour. According to the initial EIA conducted by the CCDA it was said that the rainfall to this particular area can be 50- 100 mm per hour, however, this can vary. For example, last week’s rainfall was much more than that 100 mm. We should consider the effects on the groundwater level with such an intensity of rainfall. With the on-going reclamation, once completed, heavy intensity of rainfall, 50 to 175 mm/hour, can increase groundwater level to numbers beyond imagination,” he said.

He added that the rising ground water levels would to many long term consequences and the authorities should pay serious attention to this problem.

However, when contacted by us, a source close to the Chinese company handling the Port City project rubbished the findings of the research group.

He said their findings are based on assumptions and there was no solid basis to their argument. 

"It's simple. There is a hidden agenda here. This research is done by a company and probably they want the constructors of the port city to subscribe to their data and information. This fear psychosis may be driven by the same motive," the source said.

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