Man can survive without food for five to six days but he cannot survive without water even for a day. Our water resources are depleting day-by-day due to our own mistakes, said former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
She was addressing the ceremony to mark Water Day at the Embilipitiya D. A. Rajapaksha Centre on March 17.
Kumaratunga said 10 to 12 years ago Sri Lanka’s population stood at 10-12 million. But today it had increased to 22 million. But, the water resources had not correspondingly increased with the population increase.
She said there were ample water resources in the Western and Central Provinces earlier. But wells and tube wells in these areas totally dried up during the severe drought experienced about four months ago.
The former President recalled that she launched special drinking water supply projects during her tenure in office. Some young officials who met her tried out a scheme to store rain water in tanks very successfully. When they tried to implement this scheme on a large scale, certain MPs and officials objected to it as they lost the opportunity to earn commissions from water supply projects. However, she successfully implemented this scheme by providing funding from the Presidents fund.
There were 15,000 water tanks in the NCP and the programme was later extended to areas such as Halmillara where nearly 150 water tanks were built.
Kumaratunga said President Maithripala Sirisena had launched the Moragahakanda project to provide water supplies to the North since the provision of water from this project would take some time, she as chairperson of the Reconciliation Commission will be taking steps to provide water tanks for storing rain water to households in Jaffna with the assistance of the Indian government. It is also hoped to widen the Iranamadu tank to increase its capacity.
She said she would also request the Provincial Education Minister who was present on the occasion to launch a tree planting campaign on one single day in all schools in the Province with the participation of school children.
Mass Media Deputy Minister Karunaratne Paranawithana said the Kalu Ganga and Walawe Ganga, the two rivers which flowed across the Ratnapura District had faced serious threat due to human activity. As such provision of water to areas such as Balangoda had become a big problem. They would launch a programme to plant one million Kumbuk trees in and around water sources in the Ratnapura area to ensure the protection of water resources in the area.
The former President also distributed prizes and certificates among winners of an inter school paintings competition held in the Embilipitiya zone.