disaster management calls for better co ordination
The need for an umbrella organisation to alert people on impending
natural disasters as well as coordinate relief work has come into
focus with the situation that resulted from Sunday's tsunamis.
several organizations should have been sharing information and working
together to pick up warning signs of such natural disaster, the
co-ordination between these institutions has been activated only
since the tsunamis struck on Sunday.
Meteorology Department is now co-coordinating its activities with
the Geological Mines and Survey Bureau (GSMB) on picking up warnings
of any future tsunamis or other natural disasters as it is the institution
that has island wide offices and operates 24 hours a day. But sadly
before December 26 there was little sharing of information between
the two institutions.
Meteorology Department, which had a seismograph several years ago
but not anymore, is dependent on the GSMB to get reports of seismic
activity, reliable sources said. They said the Department is not
in a position to tally it's readings on the graph with the weather
patterns that are monitored every three hours by it's regional offices
to issue warning of any changes in sea activity such as rising water
Technical Officers Unions of the Departments have repeatedly asked
that a seismograph be installed in the department and for coordinatiamong
the relevant bodies. Several institutions that deal with similar
subjects come under several ministries and thus making co-ordination
difficult. For example the Irrigation Department gets data from
the Meteorology Department and issues flood warnings while the Fisheries
Department gets regular weather updates on sea activity, which is
relayed, to the fishing communities.
is also little co-ordination between these institutions and the
national disaster management centre.
Meanwhile, Meteorology Director G.H.P. Dharmaratne said the Department
has satellite technology to track cyclones and gather weather data
but earthquakes and tsunami activity is not considered as meteorological
events and hence its equipment cannot detect such a phenomena in
time, the Director said.
since the event, the Met Department has kept in touch with the Hawaii
based Tsunami warning centre and is gathering information on the
alerts they issue. Other sources said there was a need for closer
co-operation between Sri Lanka and India in the field of meteorology
including other relevant subjects as similar natural disasters affect
both the countries.
major natural disasters that could affect Sri Lanka have been identified
as cyclones, floods, landslides, drought, forest fires and thunderstorms.
But with the incidence of the tsunamis, it is time to look at other
natural calamities that can befall Lanka.