Old irrigation systems to be revived to fight drought
The Committee on Emergency Drought Relief appointed by President
Mahinda Rajapaksa to help farmer communities affected by the prevailing
drought, is to revive the old and dilapidated irrigation systems, feeder
canals and tanks in the drought-affected districts, apart from providing
necessary compensation to farmers.
Agrarian Services and Wildlife Minister S M Chandrasena yesterday
told the Daily News that they (the Committee) have sent equipment needed
to restore those dilapidated tanks and canals following President
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s instructions to rehabilitate them for the future use
Chandrasena said, “we have sent necessary machinery and equipment
needed for irrigation works o to Anuradhapura and Polonnmaruwa
“ There are hundreds of irrigation canals and tanks that have become
silted and gone beyond use due to prolonged neglect and lack of action
by authorities in the two districts. There are about 136 minor tanks
that need immediate repair,” said Chandrasena.
“The Committee, comprising members of Economic Development Ministry,
Treasury, Disaster Management Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, Irrigation
and Water Resources Ministry and Disaster Management is currently making
efforts to revive the ancient tanks and irrigation systems, side by side
with the relief effort,” said Minister Chandrasena.
He said the Committee is currently discussing about making payments
to farmer communities who will take part in their programme for the
restoration of the irrigation cananls and tanks on the orders of the
“ We will first go by renovating the least affected agro-wells and
tanks,”he said. “ Steps will be taken to dredge those tanks with the
support of the relevent District Secretariats and Pradeshiys Sabhas,” he
Asked about the situation of the drought, he said said North-Central
Province is worst hit by the conditions. “Areas fed by Mahaweli River in
the Auradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts are experiencing a severe
drought ,” he said.
“The Committee will soon take steps to provide compensation of Rs
10,000 to farmers. Action has been stepped up for this and to provide
drinking water to the affected, “he said.
According to sources at the Disaster Management Ministry, the
Treasury has allocated Rs 300 million to meet the drinking water needs
of farmers and the affected public.
According to Galnewa Pradeshiya Sabha Secretary in the Anuradhapura
district Swarna Edirisinghe, they have provided necessary data about the
people who have been affected by the drought and about the affected farm
lands to the Anuradhapura District Secretariat.
“We expect relief in about two weeks because the conditions can get
worse if the present situation were to continue.
Ampara District Secretary Neil De Alwis said, although Ampara is not
severely affected by the conditions, the districts Maha Oya and
Deeghawaapiya have been affected.
“The government has supported the Secretariat by assisting with its
supplies of drinking water to the affected farmers, “he said.
Security personnel have also come to our assistance by helping
farmers repair the Hada Oya Canal to ensure water supply to several
paddy fields in the district,” he said.