As the devastation caused by the recent floods in central, north central and eastern provinces became clear this week, a government minister warned that reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts cannot be undertaken by the state alone.
“We need foreign assistance. It would take more than Rs 40 billlion for our recovery efforts,” Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told the Sunday Times. He said the government would appeal to both donor countries and international agencies. We need to repair irrigation tanks, roads, provide drinking water facilities, health services and infrastructure facilities,” he added.
Even before recovery efforts got underway essential food items have reached a peak. As a result of green chillie crops being affected, the price of a kilo in Colombo averaged between Rs. 600 and 700.
All vegetable prices have risen above Rs. 100.
Mr. Amaraweera’s remarks came as Government Agents in districts affected badly by the floods this week began damage assessments. During a tour of the affected areas, we spoke to GAs in the badly affected districts -- Ampara, Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa.
In the Ampara district, considered Sri Lanka’s rice bowl, Government Agent S. Kannangara said he estimated the total damage at two billion rupees. He said 80,000 acres of paddy in the district were destroyed and 95,000 acres were still under water. “We are not sure how much of this could be recovered,” he added. He estimated the paddy crop shortfall to be 60,000 tons.
The worst hit Batticaloa district’s Government Agent K. Arumainayagam said the damage was around four billion rupees in the district.
He said more than 130,000 acres of paddy land had been totally destroyed. “A further 40,000 acres are under water and we are trying to recover at least a part of the crop,” he said. Roads, tanks and houses in the district also suffered heavy damage.
Polonnaruwa District Government Agent Nimal Abeysinghe said the estimated damage in the district was Rs 131 million. Some 25,000 acres of paddy had been completely destroyed, he added.
Mannar Additional Government Agent S. Mohanandan told us on the telephone that the damage estimated in the district was Rs 515 million. She said about 2,800 acres of paddy land had been destroyed.
Trincomalee District Government Agent Ranjith de Silva said 38,000 acres of paddy land were completely destroyed in the deluge. The World Food Programme, its local chief Adnan Khan told the Sunday Times, had made available 675 tons of food items to those affected by the floods. He said the WFP had targeted 500,000 beneficiaries and would make a further donation of food worth 8.5 million dollars (Rs 927 million) in one month’s time.