Wednesday, 31 December 2003  
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Kantale dam in danger

by Anura Maitipe

The Kantale Dam which burst in 1986 causing large-scale destruction to lives, livestock and crops is once more in danger of collapsing due to authorities ignoring warnings against using the road way over the dam for heavy vehicles.

"Heavy vehicles which weigh over 30 tonnes have caused huge vibrations to the dam," Kantale Farmers Association Chairman D.M. Ratnayaka told the Daily News yesterday.

Farmers in the area have urged the government to take immediate action to prevent a recurrence of the disaster and to direct heavy vehicle drivers to use alternative roads and avoid the dam, he said.

The movement of heavy vehicles transporting over 50 to 60 tonnes of goods daily to two multinational companies in Trincomalee have damaged the dam, Ratnayake said.

He said Kantale Irrigation Department technicians have informed the authorities in Colombo about the water seepage at the dam's base.

Following the 1986 disaster, the Road Development Authority restricted the maximum weight that could be carried on the dam to 30 tonnes. Vehicles exceeding the 30 tonnes limit are not allowed.

However certain multinational companies are allegedly using this road ignoring the restrictions, Ratnayaka said.

The movement of heavy vehicles on the dam has caused severe damage to the dam and has resulted in water seepage at the base of the dam. This would lead to another disaster, he warned.

The dam collapsed in 1986 when some multinational companies attempted to dredge the basement of the dam to install a huge water pump. This was later banned following the dam's collapse, Ratnayaka said.

He said the 1986 collapse killed 178 people and destroyed 200 houses and 2000 acres of paddy.

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