Inefficient planning led to compensation delays: Minister | Daily News
Yan Oya Reservoir Project:

Inefficient planning led to compensation delays: Minister


It is clear that the initial planning and construction of the Anuradhapura Yan Oya Reservoir Project had not been methodical. As a result, the whole programme; including the land acquirement/resettlement compensation scheme, granting of alternate lands, and the renovation of infrastructural facilities; have been delayed; Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister P. Harrison said.

The minister said so while participating in a recent meeting of the Yan Oya Reservoir Project Special Steering Committee. Minister Harrison said that steps were being taken to speed up the project, which is currently proceeding at a snail's pace. He added that the Horowpathana Divisional Secretariat, and five other secretariats, had been given a gazette notification to look into matters concerning compensation for lands acquired for the project.

The Yan Oya reservoir was constructed after the setting up of a 3.5-kilometre long dam across the oya at Pamburugas Wewa in Horowpathana. The reservoir has a capacity of 149,000 acre-feet and the estimated cost for its completion is Rs.39 billion.

It was revealed at the meeting that a sum of Rs.5 billion was required for payment of compensation, and that so far, only Rs.320 million had been paid as land compensation.

It was further revealed that a sum of Rs.90 million was to be paid as compensation to a group of 110 farmers, today. Project management officials disclosed to the minister that of 1,167 land lots, assessments has been made only for 635 blocks.

Minister Harrison said that it was disappointing that the Central Environment Authority had taken such a long time and not yet released the Environmental Impact Report pertaining to the lands chosen for resettlement, as well as for those chosen as alternate muddy lands.

Anuradhapura Government Agent R.M. Wanninayake said at the steering committee meeting that immediate action would be taken to provide monthly allowances to families whose lands had been acquired at a rate of Rs.2,000 per member. The maximum allowance paid per family would be Rs.8,000.

He added that there were 1,495 families who were not receiving any type of relief. ''These families will be provided with alternate muddy lands without delay, and cost of living allowances will be paid until such muddy lands and the harvest season has ended," Wanninayake said. Answering a question raised by the minister, Project Director Udaya Hemakumara said that they were waiting for Cabinet to approve a proposal to grant 0.25 acres of highlands and 1.5 acres of muddy lands to families who lost their paddy fields for the project. Minister Harrison instructed officials to take immediate action to provide them resettlement lands close to chosen muddy lands. Farmer representatives urged the minister to consider paying higher compensation to farmers who faced losses during both the Yala and Maha seasons due to the project.

They requested the minister to provide them with kanna deprivation compensation without delay as well.


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