Saga of the Mahaweli
“The Mahaweli Development Project, commenced four decades ago, will continue to enrich the paddies and lives of Sri Lankan farmers for another hundreds of thousands of years,” said President Maithripala Sirisena at the launch of two books, Mahaweliya – Sanhindiyawe Gangawa and 95 Pasu Mahawelia at the BMICH on Wednesday (July 24).
The books were compiled under the guidance of the Mahaweli Authority fulfilling the lack of a written publication on the implementation of projects and programs beyond the accelerated Mahaweli Plan for the past 15 years.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. M.U.A Tennakoon, a water management specialist and a contributor to the Mahaweli Project since its initiation by the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike at Polgolla in 1976. A large gathering of scholars, artists, university students and professionals participated.
The Kalu Ganga Project, the next huge reservoir of the Moragahakanda Project can be completed by next month to be vestedwith the people, President Sirisena said. The construction work of the Wayamba Canal which supplies water to the Northwest, the Upper Elahera Canal which provides water to the North and the Minipe Canal have also been expedited.
The President said that he was fortunate to take the lead in completing the Moragahakanda Project, the largest multipurpose agricultural development project of the country. The President also said that he has witnessed the struggle of the farmers for water and land. Moragahakanda provides the solution to a long-standing issue faced by our farmers. The President paid his gratitude to all those who contributed their share to realize his dream of the successful completion of the project.
Mahaweli after 95 was written as a historical document containing information about the Mahaweli Project from 1995 – 2010.
Mahaweli – the River of Reconciliation is the journey of the Mahaweli River which runs through the North Central, the North and the East as well as the North Western Province fulfilling the needs of the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities. The books were presented to the President by the Chairman, Sri Lanka Foundation, Sarath Kongahage and their Chief Editor K. Ariyatunga. The books provide details of the Project, of which Phase I commenced in 1970. The first phase comprised of installing a barrage across the Mahaweli Ganga at Polgolla to divert a maximum of 2,000 cusecs through a five mile long pressure tunnel to a power plant of 40 MW installed capacity situated in the adjacent Amban Ganga basin.
In 1977, Prime Minister J. R. Jayewardene decided to accelerate the implementation of the Mahaweli Program. For this purpose a separate ministry – the Ministry of Mahaweli Development was established in 1978, with Minister of Lands and Land Development, Gamini Dissanayake being given the responsibility of the speedy implementation of the program. A separate authority, The Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka was created in 1979, to be in charge of all aspects of the program.
A major factor for the success of the program was the ready response of several countries to finance the various headworks under the Project. The Government of the United Kingdom agreed to finance the Victoria Project, Canada the Maduru Oya Project, the Federal Republic of Germany the Randenigala Project, Sweden the Kotmale Project and Japan the Moragahakanda Project. Meanwhile, the Governments of USA, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Australia and International Agencies agreed to finance the downstream development.
The other two projects identified in priority under Phase I of the Master Plan on which more comprehensive feasibility studies had been made by the UNDP/FAO team with Sri Lankan counterparts, were the Victoria–Minipe Diversion Complex and the Moragahakanda Multipurpose Unit. President Maithripala Sirisena expedited the implementation of Moragahakanda–Kalu Ganga phase of the Mahaweli Project.
The water capacity of the Moragahakanda Reservoir is four times that of the ancient Parakrama Samudraya in Polonnaruwa, while the water capacity of the Kalu Ganga Reservoir, beneath the Knuckles Mountain Range, is twice that of the Parakrama Samudraya.
The Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga Reservoirs, which are fed by the Amban Ganga, will assist in creating a new chapter in the country’s history, especially in the agriculture sector. While Moragahakanda is already in operation, the Kalu Ganga will open its sluice gates later this year.