(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has directed relevant authorities to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks scattered across the island following a mechanism combining ancient technology and modern scientific methods, the President’s Media Division said.
In parallel to this initiative the “National Food Production Contribution Programme” covering 120,000 abandoned paddy lands will also be launched.
Tanks will be rehabilitated under “Wari Saubhagya” program. The assistance of Civil Defense Force will be secured to expedite the project.
The proposed program was reviewed in length during the meeting to discuss future activities of the State Ministry of Development of Rural Paddy Fields and Associated Tanks, Reservoirs and Irrigation held at the Presidential Secretariat Yesterday (9).
“A project to rehabilitate tanks was carried out earlier too. It came under to strong criticism by the experts as well as the public. This is due to the fact that despite dredging of tanks, ancient techniques and scientific methods of water retention were not used. Such shortcoming should be avoided and rehabilitation should proceed in a manner specific to each area and tank under a common criterion,” President said.
The capacity of tanks has been reduced due to their silting. There is large number of tanks with breached banks. The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa pointed out the necessity of rehabilitating such tanks targeting Maha season.
President Rajapaksa highlighted the possibility of using tank water not only for paddy cultivation but also to meet the needs for drinking water and other irrigation requirements.
The Departments of Land Use and Agriculture have jointly conducted a survey on the pattern of agricultural land use depending on the irrigation system. Based on its findings, plans afoot to cultivate 17 identified crops in the intermediate and inter seasons supported by satisfactory water management system.
Rehabilitation of tanks should be carried out while preserving their related industries.it is imperative that the project should be implemented in conjunction with affiliated organizations and Farmers’ Societies. President Rajapaksa instructed to renovate the irrigation system including canals and dams in parallel with the project to rehabilitate tanks.
During the meeting attention was focused on the requirement of expediting “Uthuru Meda Maha Ela” and “Wyamba Ela” projects planned with the objective to supply irrigation and drinking water. Under this program 80,000 hectares fed by 1500 tanks in North Central and North Western Provinces will be cultivated.
The necessity to include the irrigation systems of the island and all the forest reservoirs neighboring rivers in a gazette notification was among the topics discussed at the meeting.
President Rajapaksa also instructed the officials to rapidly renovate 500 small tanks located within reserves for the benefit of wild animals. A one year program will be implemented to achieve this objective jointly by the Irrigation Department, Wild Life and Forest Conservation Department.
During this meeting special attention was drawn to the need of promptly filling the vacancies that exist in certain cadres such as Engineer and Technical Officer in the field of irrigation for a long period of time.
The progress of the ‘ Tharuna Govi Saubhagya, Kabanika Govipala’ program initiated with the aim of directing young entrepreneurs to use organic fertilizers for agricultural activities, was reviewed at this meeting. The project has been designed covering 5,000 acres from the Maduru Oya right bank. It was agreed to provide all the necessary infrastructure facilities for the project.
Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, State Minister Anuradha Jayaratne, Head of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, officials of the Cabinet and State Ministries and line institutes and representatives of the Farmers’ Associations were present at the discussion.