Severe drought hits cultivation
*Nearly 150,000 acres of paddy at risk
*Reservoirs, tanks go dry
The severe drought in many parts of the country has threatened the
livelihood of thousands of farmers, with 150,000 acres of paddy lands in
Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Puttalam districts at risk of being
Lack of education in water management among farmers and the people in
the dry zone has aggravated this situation.
Authorities stressed the importance of educating farmers on proper
water management methods to be adopted in times of drought.
The situation has a serious impact on hydro power generation, leaving
the energy sector to depend on fuel guzzling thermal power as water
levels continue to recede in the main reservoirs.
Hydro power generation has dropped to 11.8 percent while thermal
power generation has increased to 88.3 percent as a result.
A Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) official said yesterday the Board is
incurring heavy losses due to the drought and requested the public to
minimise energy waste.The water level at the Kotmale reservoir has
dropped so sharply that it would be sufficient to produce electricity to
full capacity only for five more days.
Kotmale power station electrical engineer N Salie said the reservoir
was only 30 percent full, and two of the three generators had to be shut
down with the other generator producing electricity for about two hours
The reservoir built in 1985 has a total capacity of 141,000 acre feet
of water or 174,000,000 cubic metres.
Many small tanks in the North Central, North Western, North and East
provinces have all gone dry and over 7,000 acres of cultivated lands
have been abandoned by farmers due to the drought.
The authorities are faced with the challenge of providing potable
water to the Anuradhapura city as water levels in many tanks in the
heart of the city has dropped drastically.
Meanwhile, Wildlife Department sources said complaints of elephants
invading villages are on the increase as many tanks and water retention
areas in wildlife parks and sanctuaries have gone dry due to the
drought. Elephants invading villages in search of water have destroyed
agricultural land and have attacked farmers. The Wildlife Department
recently initiated a programme to fill tanks and water ponds within
national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to keep jumbos within the parks.