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Network of irrigation projects in progress

Excerpts of the interview:

Deputy Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister S M Chandrasena told the Daily News that his main objective is to uplift irrigation and water management to enhance the quality of agriculture and ensure each and everyone in the island has the access to pure drinking water

Q: Under the Mahinda Chinthana Future Vision manifesto what are the steps to uplift the irrigation and water resources, islandwide and in NCP?

A: The President has taken measures to ensure the well-being of the common man specially in the North Central Province where there are many areas with water scarcity, which in turn affects agriculture. The President who is well aware of the fact that our agricultural economy depends on water took the necessary decisions to


Minister S M Chandrasena

start the Moragahakanda project allocating finance from the Treasury. At the beginning we didn’t have any foreign funds. The Japanese Government is going to help us to speed up the process. Moragahakanda is capable of storing a water capacity five times that of the Parakkrama Samudraya. The Kaluganga which joins the Mahaweli River in Polonnaruwa carries water to the sea. When the Huruluwewa spills that water flows into the sea along Yan Oya which is 74 km long.

During the 2005 General Election campaign when the President visited Galenbidunuvewa, I suggested him about the Yan Oya renovation. The President directed Rs 350 million to build a dam across the Yan Oya. The dam is being constructed at Kahatagasdigiliya, Allapothana. We are releasing water to 20 small tanks during this Maha Season. We extend the capacity of the canal from 100 cubic metres to 200 cubic metres to take water to the Padawiya tank. We have planned to take the water to Thabarawewa and then along the Mora Oya to Padawiya. The project is expected to be completed by December 2011. Horowpothana, Medawachchiya, Seruwila, Gomarankadawala and Pulmudai will be benefited. With the construction of the Pahala Yan Oya project the Wahalkada reservoir will become twice as large as the Kala Vewa.

The Moragahakanda project will also provide water to Eru Vewa which is a magnificent ancient irrigation work benefitting the Thirappane area.

Under the Kalawewa project around 6,000,000 acres are harvested. The massive tank complex - Rajanganaya, Nachchaduwa, Thuruwila, Thisa Vewa, Basawakkulama, will have water during the Yala season with the completion of Moragahakanda. The Mahaweli Zone is abundant with water so we don’t have to worry.

Political career
* Engaged in politics as a SLFPer for the past 33 years
* 1999 - Minister- North Central Provincial Council.- Agriculture, Soil Resources, Fisheries, Environment and Health
* 2001- Elected UPFA Member of Parliament
* 2004- Social Services and Welfare and Women’s Affairs Ministry Deputy Minister
* 2007 - Nation Rebuilding Minister
* 2010- Elected to Parliament securing the highest number of votes from the Anuradhapura district. He was appointed Irrigation and Water Resources Management Deputy Minister

Q: There are other villages with a water scarcity. What projects have you implemented?

A: There is another project which carries water to Thanthirimale crossing the Malwathuoya. There is a massive network of irrigation projects which are in progress now. There is a project to carry water to the Iranamadu tank through North Central Maha Ala. There are also plans to provide drinking water to Jaffna from the Iranamadu tank. The restoration and renovation of small tanks could make a significant contribution to the economic and social welfare of village communities in the dry zone. The Ministry has also introduced the agro well scheme with a subsidy to the farming community.

The Deduruoya project will be a dream come true for people in Wayamba. Kurunegala and Puttalam will be benefited. Rambukkan Oya Project in Ampara, Gurugal Oya in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya district Uma Oya and Hada Oya projects and Lower Uva Project in Moneragala are also in progress. This is the only era in recent past after the kings where massive irrigational projects are being patronized by the leader of the country.

Q: What measures has your Ministry taken to reduce water pollution and related matters?

A: The Water Resources Board which is under the purview of our Ministry is carrying out experiments to find out efficient and practical ways of reducing water contamination. They are also working out a solution to renal diseases with the collaboration of experts which is common in the NCP. We have records of the effect of contaminated water on the human body. We are promoting compost fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer. We are carrying out awareness programs to farmers to use traditional methods instead of chemical pesticides through farming committees.

The Ministry has already ordered machines to remove weeds in tanks. There are proposals to protect tanks which supply drinking water to the cities, for example constructing bathing pools to avoid routine desilting of Vewas.


Moragahakanda project. File photo

Q: Your comments on the progress of projects in the North?

A: Under the Wari Pubuduwa and with foreign aid a large number of tanks are being renovated including the Yoda Vewa in Mannar. The CCD is in the process of surveying over 200 tanks to be renovated in the North and borderline villages including Anuradhapura. Because of terrorism the Government couldn’t implement development projects in those areas.

As soon as the feasibility studies are finished the renovations would begin in 2011.

Q: By next World’s Water Day which is on May 22, what improvements do you expect?

A: I must thank the President for allocating thrice the amount of funds than 2010 for the irrigation sector next year. The Mahaweli Authority which is 30 years old is now under our Ministry. The renovations and maintenance of canals and irrigation systems under the Mahaweli systems were in a poor condition.

But now a huge amount of finance has been allocated for the renovation of canals and irrigation network in this regard. So there should be a massive leap in irrigation and water resources management. By 2011, the Deduru Oya Project, Rambukkan Oya Project, Gurigal Oya Project, Gal Oya Navodaya Project are expected to be vested in the public.

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