Monday, August 19, 2013 (All day)


Strength of Senanayake Samudraya dam

lay on the rocks

On August 24, 1949 the first Prime Minister of Ceylon D.S. Senanayake inaugurated the Gal Oya Irrigation and Hydro Power Project, and five days later, he laid the foundation stone to construct a dam at Inginiyagala across Gal Oya which cascaded from the hills of Madulsima in Badulla, and flowed 62 miles to reach the valley. Morison Knudsen International Company Incorporation of San Francisco in the USA, well known by the abbreviation MKI was awarded the contract to construct the 125 foot high dam.

The power house seen at the foothill before the ascent to reach the platform of the dam, was built by the Engineers who were already engaged here under the Colombo Plan. The construction of the dam was completed in 1951.

The dam covers a water surface area of 35 sq. miles while the tank stores 770,000 acre feet of water. The power house connected to the national grid at Laxapana contributes 273 megawatts. Once called the Inginiyagala river, it was named Senanayake Samudraya after D.S. Senanayake.

Like King Dutugemunu who was not alive to see the completion of the Swarnamalee Chaitiya he constructed in Anuradhapura the Prime Minister was not alive to witness the East turn green by the waters he turned and the El Dorado he planned for the future of his people. On March 23, 1952 he fell from horse back while exercising at the Galle Face Green and passed away two days later. The term of office of the next Directorate of the Board was from 1955 to 1957. R. Kanagasunderam, an ex-High Commissioner for Ceylon in the UK was the second Chairman. W.T.I. Alagaratnam, an Irrigation ex-Director, M.L.D. Caspersz, an ex-Food Commissioner and Director of Establishments, A.R. Mansoor, N.E. Weerasuriya and W.R. De Silva were appointed as members. T.C. S. Jeyaratnam, a former Provincial Governor of India was the second Secretary. M.S. Perera CCS was the Resident Manager.

In 1957 we experienced the first disastrous flood that inundated the country. As torrential rains continued the water levels of the Senanayake Samudraya began to rise and when it reached spill-level, the Board doubted the strength of the dam to hold water at such capacity and cabled the MKI in America about the impending situation.

The cable in reply to the ‘Galboard’ (cable address), stated, “Check for the strength of the two rocks to which the dam is connected to”. That was their guarantee on the strength of the dam they constructed. 62 years have already passed, the gigantic work which withstood every natural calamity ever since then, stands magnificently to date with no complaints. The force behind this achievement was our engineers and the exuberant and dedicated workers who worked in collaboration with the expatriates. Since 1951 several generations of Irrigation Engineers and their staff have been the custodians of this lake who have protected and nurtured it to see to it that the valley is fed to raise green pastures for all. Engineer M.A.S. Gunasena is the present custodian in whose archives 29.8.1949 is placed in a file folio as the date of laying the foundation.


Use environmental friendly decorations

Candidates contesting the forthcoming Provincial Council elections of the NWP are seen to be very busy and active in their propaganda campaigns to obtain more preferential votes these days.

They organise rallies almost in every village, to convince voters of their manifestos which they will implement, when they are elected to power. Their supporters immoderately use materials such as polythene to decorate election stages, propaganda huts as well as streets, in their specific political colours.

This is a threat to the environment as polythene is a thermoplastic polymer of ethylene which does not decompose with time. The end result will be that our future generation will have to face the consequences of this evil.

I earnestly request all political candidates in the NWP-PC polls to start decorating their election platforms, if they find it necessary, with environmental-friendly material which could be converted into organic manure later on, and would be useful to the people of the North Western Province.


Girls in long trousers

I recently read a news item in a newspaper titled Metro News that wearing of short skirts, has been prohibited in the UK for girl students in higher classes in public schools. It has been made compulsory that girls wear long trousers, from this academic year.

The news item also stated that this prohibition is to be extended to middle grade girl students of the age group 9 – 13 years in the near future as well. According to Education authorities, wearing short skirts seems to be indecent when girls sit down.

Why don't we follow this regulation with regard to uniforms in our country? Every decent citizen in this island would certainly welcome this suggestion in order to maintain decency among teenage girls especially in our international schools.


Kidney failure - the responsible can pay

The chronic kidney disease (CKD) which emerged in the Anuradhapura District is now surfacing in other parts of the country as well. According to World Health Organization assisted research findings, there were some 400,000 kidney patients in the North Central and Uva Provinces a couple of years back. WHO assisted researchers claim that approximately 21.5% of the population is suffering from kidney diseases, in some form or another. The most alarming situation is that the prevalence of end-stage renal failure is reaching an epidemic level.

The only process of sustaining life when at the end-stage chronic renal failure is routine dialysis or kidney transplant. The tragedy is that in this disease the affected person would not know the problem until it reaches the end stage. Unlike a few years back, now end stage CKD is appearing among the younger age groups as well. The reason for this as explained by the concerned authorities is due to wider and intensive contamination through extensive pollution of the whole agricultural region and the general environment, by agro chemicals.

Professor Dr. Sarath Bandara of the Department of Agricultural Biology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya in 2007 warned, 'If CD Cadmium pollution continues to increase so will human dietary CD exposure, and renal tubular dysfunction is likely to become more prevalent in human population in the next 10 -20 years'.

Today six years after this warning, it has been revealed by a joint study conducted by the University of Ruhuna and the Aberdeen University of Scotland that rice, the staple food in Sri Lanka obtained from several parts of the country has turned toxic, containing high levels of Cadmium, which is a serious situation and an eye opener. As it has been increasingly and widely accepted all over the world that agro chemicals are ruinous to the environment as well as to life, it is biologically disastrous.

It was introduced to agriculture not only in Sri Lanka but also to other countries by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), as business agent of huge private companies producing agro chemicals, because it was a huge profit earning business.

The utter inhuman characteristic of this business is that it is manufactured and sold with prior knowledge of its harms to life.

Therefore the government should urgently resort to take some sensible action to control the agro chemical syndrome caused chronic kidney disease which is now ruining the country as a terrible epidemic.

Not only CKD but other fatal diseases too are caused by agro chemicals. As such they need to be immediately banned. In order to face the challenge successfully in the event of reduction of yield, farmers should be paid for the reduced yield. In addition all paddy farmers should be given an incentive payment as an encouragement for reverting to agro-chemical free cultivation.

It is also necessary to make compensation payments for all families affected by CKD. The problem of finding funds for the delivery of CKD and the environment recovery package could be easily solved by getting the UN/Food and Agricultural Organization, which introduced agro chemicals with prior knowledge of its severe consequences to life and environment, to pay compensation for the damage, since it is now proven and established with concrete evidence that UN/FAO is accountable for violation of right to life of people of this country.



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