Saturday, 02 April 2005 12:18 (GMT + 6.00) , By Fouzer Sheriffdeen
The Parliamentary select committee on Natural Disaster Preparedness that was appointed after the Tsunami devastation is aimed at creating awareness & preparedness on natural disasters for the future.
The Chairman of the committee, M.P., Mahinda Samarasinghe & M.P.s Rauff Hakeem, John Amartunge, Ravi Raj, and Mahinda Wijesekera, first visited the Geological Department of the Peradeniya University on an inspection tour of the Seismological station on the 31st of March, where the M.P.s were received by the academics of the faculty, Prof. Kapila Dahanayake, L.K.R. Perera (Head of The Geological Dept., Udeni Bandara Amarasinghe (senior lecturer) and Prof. V. Kumar, Dean of the faculty.
Senior Lecturer Mr. Udeni B. Amarasinghe, who had been instrumental in getting this facility into the University for academic purposes, with the help of the JICA, in an effort initiated by the latter, when he was in Japan at the Sukuba International Institute of Seismology and Earth Quake Engineering. They had trained a group of Asians on Global Seismological Observation, which was done by this institute expecting the contribution of respective nations to the security of Asia.
Amarasinghe realized, that as a country Sri Lanka, does not have a single seismological meter, whereas, countries such as Nepal had there own seismological meter network. He has spoken to the Chairman of the institute and sought their assistance after explaining the need prevailing in the Universities of Sri Lanka. After getting the Chairman's consent, the request was submitted to the JICA, who agreed on principle, while requesting a project report. The project report was subsequently accepted and approved by them.
They decided to provide a network of four Seismo meters, the main Centre as Peradeniya, one in the South, one in the North and the other in the East. However, due to the then security situation, we were compelled to install the equipment for the North at the Mihintale University, the unit meant for the Eastern part was established in the Oluvil campus and the installations were finally completed in April 2003, said Amarasinghe.
The observatories consist of two different Seismo meters at each location, for the global observations, is a Broadband Seimo meter and to observe local observations especially related to quakes within reservoir areas etc., a Short Period Seismo meter.
When the Chairman of the Select Committee, queried, as to why a warning could not be given on the 26th, Lecturer Amarasnghe said that all the other three meters are also linked to the main computer in Peradeniya, which is hi-tech, and a top end computer. Due to a failure of the Hard Disk or which s known as Data Logger of this computer, which was beyond our level of knowledge to restore, we were not able to get any data. In the meantime, this was not meant for such a national requirement; instead it was for academic purposes. However, after the experience of Tsunami, which we have never known during our life time, but once restored this observation network will be definitely dedicated for the national purpose."