President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today (February 05) inaugurated the construction work of the 28km-long ‘Irrigation Tunnel’ which will be the longest irrigation tunnel in South Asia upon completion.
The event took place at Palugaswewa in Anuradhapura, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
The tunnel will be built under the first phase of the North Central Province Maha Ela Project, in parallel to the ‘Waari Saubhagya’ (Irrigation Prosperity) programme to rehabilitate 5,000 tanks.
The North Central Province Maha Ela Project is being implemented as the 6th and final phase of the Mahaweli Development Scheme.
The objective of the project is to divert water from Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga reservoirs to Rajarata.
It is designed as an eco-friendly development programme. Excess water from Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga reservoirs is carried to Yakalla along a 65km long canal.
Three sanctuaries have to be passed through when constructing the canal, the PMD said.
Irrigation tunnel is being constructed in order to prevent damage to the environment and wildlife. The tunnel which starts from Elahera Konduruwewa ends at Palugaswewa Mahamigaswewa.
The President has instructed relevant officials to complete the North Central Province Maha Ela project, which was earlier scheduled to be completed in six years, within the next four years, by 2025.
The cost of the tunnel, funded by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Asian Development Bank, is USD 244 million, according to the PMD.
The lack of safe drinking water has been a major reason for poverty and kidney disease of the people living in the North Central, Northern and Eastern Provinces. After the completion of the project, 25,000 families in 13 Divisional Secretariat Divisions in the North Central Province will be benefited.
A total of 43,000 hectares are expected to be cultivated during the Yala and Maha seasons by supplying water to 1200 small tanks.
The inauguration ceremony to mark the construction work of North Central Province Maha Ela Irrigation Tunnel under the “Irrigation Prosperity’’ was held at Mahamigaswewa, Anuradhapura.
At the auspicious time this morning, the President who unveiled the plaque amidst the chanting of Seth Pirith by the Maha Sangha carried out the maiden earth digging.
Addressing the gathering, Minister of Irrigation, Chamal Rajapaksa said that the objective of the present government is to use every drop of water falling from the sky and flowing into the sea to cultivate the fields by following the path of the former kings.
Siripala Gamalath, State Minister of Development of Common infrastructure Facilities of Settlements and Canals in Mahaweli Zones, said that the “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” is making a reality a dream of the Rajarata people to receive water for drinking and cultivating purposes when water flows through the North Central Province Maha Ela, thereby transforming their lives for the better.
The Maha Sangha of Tri-Nikayas, Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers including the State Minister of Irrigation Development, Anuradha Jayaratne, People’s Representatives of the North and North Central Provinces, Secretaries to Ministries and Government Officials also graced the event.