Mavil Aru revisited
It was the turning point for the nation. When the separatist
terrorists - the bloodthirsty LTTE - decided to close the Mavil Aru
waterway depriving over 10,000 farmer families in the east water, no
responsible government could have looked on impassively at the great
human tragedy about to unfold.
concrete bridge over the waterway after recent repairs
Part of the
Alla-Kantale scheme embankments repaired
As in all cases of untruth and cooked up histories and nomenclatures
the name of the waterway was Mahaveli Ara vulgarized to Mavil Aru in
later times by invaders who had settled in those area. The entire
irrigation network system of the Sinhala kings and engineers called by
the modern irrigation engineers the Cascading Irrigation Reservoir
System covers the plains and in some instances hilly tracts over the
whole country without exception. This waterway, a very ancient
irrigation channel is one among several hundreds small and large canals
built by our ancient irrigation engineers, a scientific model that
baffled modern irrigation experts from Henry Parker to those of the
The study made by Parker, Brohier and others later clearly showed the
harvesting of water from the slopes of the Matale hills, and carried
through to Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Mannar or even as far as
Tambalagama near Trincomalee. The network of canals fed the system of
reservoirs in the north, north central, north west and east and from the
Mahaveli and the smaller rivers by damming them to divert water and feed
giant reservoirs like Kantale (Gantalawa in the ancient chronicles) and
the Yodha Wewa (Giant's Reservoir).
It was no surprise for the LTTE terrorists to close the waterway but
their gamble to hold the 10,000 farmer families to ransom failed when
President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to attack the terrorists at Mavil
Aru chase them out and retake the irrigation scheme. That was the
beginning of the end of the terrorist group who did not know anything
about irrigation - giving the liquid of life to make people live - but
knew another method of making a liquid flow. The red liquid of human
blood. Perhaps no other group other than Robert Brownrigg's Red Coats
during the liberation struggle of the Sinhalese in 1815 -17 had held the
record of bloodletting killing over 40,000 people.
The famous Mavil Aru (Mahaveli Ara)
sluice gate after repairs. In the background the vast
acreage of paddy lying fallow
The Red Coats also destroyed the irrigation systems in the Kandyan
regions as the LTTE had done in the North and East. The terrorists not
only closed the waterway, they damaged the sluice gate and the
embankments of the irrigation scheme.
The rest is history now
Most of the paddy lands in this area irrigated by the Alla-Kantale
scheme had remained fallow for over three decades. At present the Nation
Building and Infrastructure Development Ministry is rehabilitating the
scheme at a cost of 385 million rupees. Ministry Secretary
W.K.Kumarasiri said this was being done after 50 years and would benefit
over 10,000 farmer families in the area.
Over 17,400 acres of paddy lands will be brought under the plough
during the next crop season bringing prosperity to these families who
were virtually starving and contributing to self sufficiency in rice.
The Mavil Aru sluice gate has been completely repaired and the bridge
over the waterway has been built again.
The embankments are also being repaired and up to now 1,000 feet is
completed. Farmers and other villagers in the area will be benefited by
the scheme within the next few months and after three decades they will
be able to cultivate and harvest their rice paddies without fear.