|A memorable exploration of Mahaweli River Basin
– A report from Twinning Program between MASL and JWA 2010
in Sri Lanka –
by Susumu FUJIOKA – Japan Water Agency(JWA)
Based on an Agreement and MOU signed between Japan Water Agency (JWA) and MASL in 2008, Twinning Program between the two parties has been started by the dispatch of 4 personnel from JWA to Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (MASL) to JWA in May 2008.The objective of the Twinning program is, as the MOU states, that “to get a better understanding on Integrated Water Resources Management implemented by the other party”. Furthermore, we feel that this program serves as an effective opportunity to develop tight relationship between the two parties. In 2009, MASL sent 4 personnel to JWA for the first time as a Twinning Program, followed by JWA sending 2 personnel to MASL in 2010 February. This article reports briefly about Twinning Program held from 4th to 16th February in Colombo and entire Mahaweli river basin.
Two JWA staffs, namely Mr. Shigeyuki MIYAUCHI and Mr. Susumu FUJIOKA participated in the Twinning Program, which has two main objectives; to grasp the water resources management within whole Mahaweli river basin and to find out pressing issues on IWRM promotion in the Mahaweli river basin.
The program began with the warm greeting by acting Direct General, Executive Director (Technical Service) Eng. N.C.M. Navaratne, at the head quarter office of MASL, followed by an introduction of Mahaweli programme by Mr. C. Wellappili, Director, Planning and Monitoring Unite, MASL contribution to NARBO activities by Eng. Ananda Sellahewa, Procurement Specialist, Dam Safety Water Resources Planning Project (DSWRPP), and pressing issue in promoting IWRM in system H by Eng. Padmasiri Premakumara, Regional Director of Dambulla.
In the afternoon, we are introduced to Water Management Secretariat (WMS), where Eng. Nimal Wickramarathna explained the water allocation and management practices in Sri Lanka and role of MASL. The seasonal water allocation plan is decided before each of the Maha and Yala season. The seasonal meeting is chaired by MASL, attended by Department of Irrigation, Ceylon Electric Board and other local government powers and related stakeholders. WMS provides water allocation plan found by their simulation system to the meeting, assisting making decision.
On the next day, we visited MASL and met Project Director of Dam Safety Water Resources Planning Project (DSWRPP), BSc Eng. S. Elakanda who had made the great contribution to arrange this program. On 7th February, accompanied by Mr. Rajeev, we left Colombo to visited Kotmale Dam, whose former Engineer In Charge (EIC), Eng. W.A.Chandrathilaka, had joined last year’s Twinning Program held in Japan, where the present EIC, B.Sc. Eng. W.M.J. Weerasekera showed us the current pressing issue. Among the issues at Kotmale Dam are the sedimentation in the reservoir, recent reduce of rainfall in the basin and the crack monitoring at the crest of the dam body which will be treated by the DSWRPP. A Polgolla visit was also arranged on the very same day before arriving at the Kandy city, which is said to be the third ancient capital of Sri Lanka. Eng.B.M.W.Senevirathna Banda, greeted us and gave us a brief explanation of current facilities and issues there. What we found there is the incline of the gate when operation. Seemingly due to the difference of the extension of the chain at both side of the gate, its incline stops the gate operation sometimes. This problem will be also covered by the DSWRPP project, he told us.
After a stay at Kandy we set out for Victoria Dam after visiting one of the most sacred temples in Kandy. Eng. S. R.K. Aruppola, EIC of Victoria Dam gave us a warm greeting before the explanation of the current issue there. Illegal residents in the upstream of reservoir, maintenance cost problem and operation when flooding was the main topic there. The illegal residents in the upstream, as is commented by Mr. C. Wellappili at the final report of this program, relates to the poverty problem. Some economically suffered people wish to cultivate the land in the reservoir in spite of the risk of being submerged at high water season. Due to the aging of the Dam, which is built in 1980s, telecommunication system doesn’t work anymore. The rehabilitation and updating of facility is required, which is also be treated by DSWRPP. In the afternoon of that day, we visited the control office of both Randanigala Dam and Rantanbe Dam, where a clear explanation of current issue of siltation, mainly excavation work in 2007, is presented by Eng. H.M.Kalubanda. Likewise the other dams, the problem will be also treated by DSWRPP. In the night at circuit bungalow at Rantanbe, we set out for the wild-elephant explore after dinner only to find a small dear-like animal after nearly two hours of explore.
In the next day, we visited the MASL office at system C, after a brief visit of Minipe Anicut. At System C, we had an opportunity to meet with the farmer organization, where we could interview the farmers so that we can grasp clearer outline of their organization structure and their responsibilities.
After meeting with farmers, we visited the three important reservoirs in the System C and System B area, namely Ulhitia, Raaa, and Maduru Oya. It was quite meaningful to visit these sites to understand the situation of System C and System B, where we had no plan to visit during this problem.
After a stay at Plonaruwa, which is said to be the second ancient capital of Sri Lanka history, our journey was extended as far as one of the three river mouths of Mahaweli river by way of Trincomalee accompanied by Eng. Wijaratne, EIC at System B area where now further cultivation field is yet to be developed by around 28,000 ha in total. Trincomalee, located near to the river mouth of Mahaweli river, was originally an ancient port city and as is commented at the final report of this program, it has possibility to become the second largest main city after Colombo in Sri Lanka. After seeing the river mouth of Mahaweli river and experience of riding a ferry there, we turned back our way, heading for the Moragahakanda Bungalow, where Eng. Wijayarathne, the Project Director of Moragahakanda & Kalu ganga Project, who also participated in the last twinning program held in Japan, warmly greeted us by a bottle of Arrack.
On the 11th February, after the presentations of the outline of the Moragahakanda & kaluganga project and the re-settlement of the project at the office, we set out for the field tour, which began with construction site of Saddle dam No. 2 at Moragahakanda Project followed by Bowatne reservoir where the diverted water from Polgolla is diverted to the System H area and to the System G area after going through the hydro power generation house. At the construction site of the Saddle dam No. 2, the quality of the core material was seemed to be very satisfactory.
After taking lunch, joining Mr. Malala to accompany us, our journey has resumed to the Kaluganga Project, where we are informed of outline of the development of System F in the downstream of the reservoir. We were amazed that the whole village infrastructures such as police station, post office, hospital and schools, would be simultaneously developed along with the Dam construction. In the night, we set up for the elephant-watching tour from the resident area, where fortunately we could see a herd of elephants closely.
On the next day we visited Dambuluoya and Kandalama Reservoirs before arriving at the Headquarter office of System H in Thambutthgama, where we could see a familiar face of Eng. Premalal, one of the members of the delegation of the last Twinning Program. After a minute explanation of the canal operation and water allocation by Ms. Kumari, we moved to Eppalawa to see the joint point of Main canal, Branch Canal, Tributery Canal and the Field Canal respectively and saw the operation of the water control facilities and how the water from the reservoir is managed and delivered to the each cropping field. After seeing the local farmer organization awaiting us. Though short time, we could grasp the general outline of the farmer organization and irrigation system managed by MASL.
Then we left for Kalawewa reservoir, the most important tank for the System H area. The Kalawewa tank, whose foundation dates back over 2000 years, has never lost its function as a main reservoir.
The Kalawewa reservoir consists of two reservoirs, one is Kalawewa and the other is Balaluwena. At the saddle point of these reservoirs the circuit Bungalow of Kalawewa is located. Even though it was already getting dark when we arrived to the Bungalow, we enjoyed a boat tour in the reservoir. In the next day, after visiting local temple, where many children clean the garden as a school activity, which can be normally seen in Sri Lanka, we headed for Anurudhapura, picking up Eng. Basnayake from Moragahakanda Office on the way. At the PEACE project office near to Anurudhapura, we met a Japanese specialist, Mr. Saisho, who has been working for the irrigation of Sri Lanka for long time, now engaging in the PEACE project. The meeting was quit enlightening for us to understand the current situation of irrigation government policy in Sri Lanka.
At Anurudhapura, we visited several temples and stupa, as well as main reservoirs in the area, such as Nachchduwa and Nuwarawewa reservoirs. After visiting those points, we set out for our final destination–Colombo.
After a several hours of drive from Anurudhaprura, our field tour came to the end in the evening of 12th Feb.
On the final day of the program, Mr. Elakanda took his time to give us a presentation about the outline of the DSWRPP which summarized the current issues on the water resources management throughout Sri Lanka.