Tank renovation project to commence soon in Anuradhapura | Daily News

Tank renovation project to commence soon in Anuradhapura

Sri Lanka is well-known for its tremendous history of irrigation technology since centuries ago, and the 2,500-year-old irrigation structures and water management systems available in the country are evidence for this. Anuradhapura is popularly known as the ‘Wew Bendirajya’ or ‘Kingdom of Tanks’ for the large number of about 3,000 tanks built by our ancient kings, including the most popular world heritage irrigational structure, the Abaya Wewa, which is found near the Ruwanweli Maha Seya, Thuparama, and Mirisaweti stupas.  

In this background, the government has initiated a tank rehabilitation programme in the Anuradhapura District, having selected a range of dilapidated tanks. Under this programme, officials of Anuradhapura Zonal Irrigation Department are now on the move to unveil an ‘irrigation marvel’ called the Kudavilachchiya abounded tank, which is situated at the northeast corner of the Wilpattu National Park, about three kilometres from Mahavilachchiya Reservoir, Anuradhapura Irrigation Engineer L. Kotawilaarachchi told the Daily News.  

He said that the particular tank is supposed to be older than 1,900 years and is believed to have been constructed during the Prince Saliya and Ashokamala eras. For centuries, it was hidden by the thick jungle belt of Wilpattu National Park.  

"The latest survey done by us has revealed the dam of this tank is 2.55 kilometres long, and is around 500,000m3 of massive earthen work completed by our ancient irrigation specialists,” the Anuradhapura Irrigation Engineer said.  

The Kudavilachchiya tank used to have sluices; they are now damaged by treasure hunters. But some of the structural features of these sluices are still intact. It is amazing that these 1,900-year-old bricks and cement mortars also remain sans any harm. The stone-carved sluice tunnels and groves, too, still remain in working condition, Kotavilaarachchi added. He said that the Archaeological Department has granted permission for the project, provided that all ancient irrigation assets would be preserved and, at present, the Central Environment Authority is engaged in preparing an Environment Impact Report to enable the renovation work. The capacity of the Kudavilachchiya tank is around 46,000 acre-feet, the irrigation engineer added.  

Once reheated, the water would be used to see to the drinking water facilities in the Vavuniya and Mannar Districts, as well as in the Mahavilachchiya area.

This tank will also act as a storage tank to feed the Mahawilachchiya Reservoir, under which around 10,000 acres of land is usually cultivated during the Yala and Maha seasons with limited water capacity, Kotavilaarachchi said.  

Wildlife in the Wilpattu National Park, too, will benefit immensely by this project, he said, adding that the endeavour is estimated to cost around Rs.600 million.