Solving drinking water problem in Kilinochchi: Farmers’ associations express reservations | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Solving drinking water problem in Kilinochchi: Farmers’ associations express reservations

Minister Rauff Hakeem on an inspection tour of the Iranamadu tank
Minister Rauff Hakeem on an inspection tour of the Iranamadu tank

Although the government is making ardent efforts to address the long-felt drinking water problem of the Kilinochchi and Jaffna districts, farmers’ associations and sections of their political representatives have expressed reservations on the government’s plans.

The government has formulated duel plans, the initial one to provide drinking water from the recently renovated Iranamadu tank in Kilinochchi and the other, at a later stage, to take the waters of the Moragahakanda-Kaluganga multi-purpose irrigation project to the same reservoir and distribute drinking water during the final phase of the project.

City Planning and Water Supply Minister Rauff Hakeem during his recent visit to the Iranamadu tank told the media on his return to Colombo that the plans to provide drinking water to the two districts could not be implemented due to opposition from the farmers of Kilinochchi and conflict of views among politicians.

Secretary of the Federation of Farmers’ Associations of Iranamadu, Muthu Sivamohan told Sunday Observer that although the Iranamadu tank unusually overflowed during last month’s heavy rains resulting in flash floods causing displacement and destruction. In the previous four years there had been no such heavy rain.

During rainy seasons, the water that gets collected in the tank would only suffice for irrigation of the 21,000 acres of paddy lands surrounding the tank either for one season of cultivation or two, depending on the amount of water collected, Sivamohan said.

There are another 8,762 acres of paddy land in Kandawalai and Periya Paranthan areas needing irrigation facilities. If the authorities can provide irrigation for both, they can take the remaining water to the Jaffna district but this will very rarely happen, Sivamohan said.

The Iranamadu tank was renovated with part of the Rs. 2,198 million funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Two years ago, a 15-member experts’ committee, appointed by the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), conducted studies on possibilities of taking drinking water to the Jaffna district and 11 of them concluded that it was not a possibility.

The NPC, in turn, sent it to the Central government to take decisions on the plans to transfer drinking water to the Jaffna district.

Kilinochchi farmers are opposed to the second plan of taking water from the Moragahakanda-Kaluganga project, at a later stage, because they know of Eastern Tamils’ bitter experience of organised settlements all along the canal basement areas of similar irrigation projects, Sivamohan said, adding that such organised settlements had changed the demographic pattern and percentage of the local communities.

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