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Government Gazette

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.

The 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 present day.

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.



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