Oya Project boosts agriculture of Hambantota - Chamal Rajapaksa
On the eve of the opening ceremony of the Uma Oya Project, which
will be held on April 29, with the participation of Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
Irrigation and Water Management Minister Chamal Rajapaksa
explained to The Nation the importance of the project. The
multi-purpose irrigation project is expected to irrigate 12,000
acres of cultivatable land in the lower Uva Region, produce 100
Megawatts of hydro power and supply water to the new industries
Following are the excerpts of the
Q: What is the significance of the Uma Oya
Project, when compared to other irrigation projects?
A: Uma Oya is a multi-purpose irrigation project. It is
expected to supply water required for agriculture in the area,
produce hydro power and supply water to the large-scale projects
and industries in the Hambantota District.
In this project, instead of following the procedure step by step
– arranging of project reports, qualifying it for the
environmental feasibility certificate, finding funds and finally
starting work to follow separately in stages, which in other
projects usually doubles the original cost, we let it happen
The Iranian Government has agreed to lend Rs. 450 million for
this project, though the estimated cost for the project is only
Rs. 250 million rupees – so we don’t have a problem with the
Q: By diverting the Uma Oya that starts from the Uva Region
to the south, this project is to benefit the people of
Hambantota. Are the people of the Uva Region protesting against
A: No. This project greatly benefits the Uva Province as
well. Nearly 12,000 acres of new paddy fields in Wellassa are to
be irrigated by the Uma Oya water stored at the reservoir in
Handapanagala. There is also going to be an underground hydro
power plant capable of producing 100 Megawatts of power in
Also, this project will open job opportunities for the people of
Wellassa. The minor contractors of these areas can lend their
lorries, tractors etc. for the use of the construction works and
Q: The Lunugamvehera Project was initiated to irrigate the
lands in Hambantota, but it failed. Will the same fate befall
this project too?
A: That will not be so. There is an immense wastage of water
when Uma Oya flows across the Welimada area, especially when it
overflows. Also, there is wastage when the Minipe Anicut spills
out to the Mahaweli River, the way it is presently allowed to
flow. Under this project, this water will be stored in a
reservoir in Puhulpola and brought to the hydro power plant via
an underground waterway.
This project is also expected to supply water to the large scale
projects of Weerawila Airport and Hambantota industries as well
as to homes. Since the water in the Lunugamvehera Reservoir is
not sufficient for this task, the Uma Oya Project becomes
essential for the development activities in the Hambantota
Q: Will the deforestation and civilian settlement in these
areas threaten the habitats of elephants and raise serious
A: There will not be any deforestation in the 23-kilometre
area in Puhulpola since the water is going to be carried by an
underground waterway. But we are planning to take measures based
on environmental assessment reports to prevent illegal
deforestation and to replant the forest destroyed by the
Q: Is the Uma Oya Project completely dependant on the funding
of the Iranian Government or does it have other sources of
A: The government is planning to bear 15% of the total cost
for the project.
Q: Are construction works for this project undertaken by
A: Though the contractors for this project are from an
Iranian construction company, the Iranian Government has agreed
to let us use the labour of local engineers, architects, etc.
Therefore, a part of the money spent on this project will remain
in this country.
Q: It has been two years since the foundation stone was laid
for the Weerawila Airport, but its construction still has not
begun. Will the same happen for the Uma Oya Project?
A: No. The Iranian Government is funding this project and it
is under the blessings of the Iranian President himself that we
have been able to make such progress with this project. We have
planned to end the work of this project in four years.
Q: What are you going to do about the families who are going
to be displaced due to the Uma Oya Project?
A: We will resettle those who are affected by the
construction of the Puhulpola Reservoir in the vicinity of their
original homes and will pay maximum compensation for these
Q: In large scale irrigation projects like the Lunugamvehera
Project, a lot of small water reserves were flattened and their
water combined to the larger main reserve – which victimised a
lot of farmers who were depending on these small water reserves
to farm. Will this project do the same?
A: Not at all. We will let those tanks be the way they are
and supply water to them from the Handapanagala Reservoir that
is to be built under the Uma Oya Project.
An irreplaceable human being
have written many appreciations about my friends, relations and
comrades but, I had to struggle when it came to start this
appreciation about my loving brother Dayan.
Dayan was an extraordinary person since childhood. He left a
special name and memories among all his loving friends and
relatives. It was his flexible adaptation into society that
earned him his fame among the people. He was an extremely
kind-hearted person among other kind-hearted people; he is the
toughest among the toughs. That special blend made him a special
man in any forum.
Dayan learnt his alphabet at Kudawewa, at his native village
school. He was very reluctant to wear slippers to the village
school, but since his mother taught at the same school, he did
not have much choice. But, many days I saw him going to school
with his mates without wearing any slippers and he was so
blended and merged with nature.
Then at the age of seven, he had to leave this school and move
to Colombo for studies. Then, he started his life at Nalanda
College as a boarder, until he left school for university. He
never missed the big match – all our family members are
Nalandians and coming from different parts of the country we
gathered at the big mach. When Dayan got delayed, it aroused
such mammoth problems for us with many inquiries coming from his
contemporaries and others, for he was such a jovial character
The next phase of his life was at an Indian university, since he
completed his commerce degree at the University of New Delhi in
the early 1990s.
Dayan was not a seniority-conscious man and he used his own
yardstick to measure people. I have clearly seen that at the
university mates’ annual gathering at our home at Kudawewa. The
annual get-together was a special event in our family’s calendar
year. We all flock to the event from all over the country. He
never accepted any contribution from his friends and he
organised everything in coordination with the family.
His mates too were eagerly awaiting this exclusive event in the
small village of Kudawewa, which offered them a rare enjoyment,
including village walks, river bathing, toddy drinking, chatting
and lunch with Chilaw prawns. All these burdens Dayan took very
personally and he made the event fun-filled, which is still
discussed among his friends. Dayan’s demise made a big vacuum in
their hearts, which I have sadly witnessed during the funeral.
Dayan’s next benchmark was entering the Fisheries Corporation as
a management trainee. Then he undertook different appointments
all over the country and excelled in his job by winning the
hearts of his superiors and adding a great value to the
He was a ‘no nonsense’ man but also very kind-hearted. Quality
of the work and the streamlining of work is his forte during any
kind of assignment whether it is at home or in the office. Dayan
introduced and enjoyed many ‘firsts’ as a manager in his
esteemed organisation. According to his general manager, Dayan
is a “total solution” man; he spent only seconds and minutes to
give solutions to his subordinates, peers and superiors.
As a soldier, I always believed in the subordinates’ version
when analysing the quality of leadership in a person. During
discussions with them, I found that the trust and respect
bestowed upon him by the subordinates was exceptional. But
sometimes, his honesty and professionalism boomeranged on him in
unethical ways. We advised him in many occasions to take legal
action against the authorities that created unfair situations
but Dayan turned down the advice promptly since he did not want
to tarnish the image of his esteemed organisation that he had
served for 17 years.
Dayan’s love for his village and its people was exceptional. He
never missed any village event and funded and participated
lively at any event although he was extremely busy. Every
villager admired his simple way of living and down-to-earth
attitude towards them. Villagers have never forgotten his
daredevil actions during the annual floods, to rescue the
affected people. Dayan never hesitated to go to the village from
anywhere in the country, ignoring all his priorities, to rescue
people from the dangerous floods. He was such a good swimmer and
diver, who excelled at meets as well as during disastrous
situations. He always believed that a swimmer had a greater
responsibility than just winning awards at competitions and
lived according to his belief setting a strong example to the
Dayan was a role model for his contemporaries in the village and
they used to imitate and follow Dayan’s living style I saw all
of them running here and there doing all kinds of work to make
Dayan’s final journey the best that they can produce.
An errant driver took Dayan’s precious life on January 27, 2008
when he was returning from a ceremony to his home with his wife
Nirmala at Maravila. Nirmala barely escaped the fatal accident,
at least sparing mother to his loving children Nethisha, Dasula
and Siluni. My parents lost their loving son, who looked after
all their needs and day-to-day domestic matters. My brother and
sister lost his loving brother who was always a shadow and great
strength to them. I being his eldest brother, who looked after
his every need starting from helping his home work, washing his
clothes, washing him, helping in his higher studies and carrier
guidance could not bear up the loss, though I did not shed
I know how much he loved his cousins and the sisters and
brothers of my parents. They used to say that without Dayan
there was “no go” at any event. In fact, he loved, respected and
cared for all relations being equally attentive to all their
Country lost a great man, a patriot; society lost a great
companion; villagers lost a sincere villager and the family lost
a loving father, husband, son and a loving brother. It is an
irreparable loss for every one of us!
The third month’s religious ceremony will be conducted on April
26-27, 2008. Ven. Malwane Chandrarathana, a senior lecturer at
the University of Kelaniya will conduct the bana based on the
temporary nature of life.
Blessing of the noble triple gem be with you, Dayan!
By Poornima Ravishan Wijemanne
We live in an age of prohibition signboards, and before them we
should be humble, for we do not always know the reason for the
ban. But this is also the age where it is necessary that we
should not know why.
Since long the green of the Galle Face was out of bound for the
public and since recently, the parking area nearby has been
blocked due to security concerns raised by the upcoming SAARC
summit. Also, the walking space is arbitrarily blocked off when
dignitaries travel along the road.
It is sad that certain government measures taken in the best
interest of the people should be so fear inspiring and
unfriendly to the people themselves.
The Nation spoke with a few people, most of who had made it a
habit to walk in the Galle Face for almost two decades, to know
how they felt to lose – inch by inch – a freedom, all in the
best interest of this country.
“It’s not nice… this is not Sri Lanka, this is not the Sri Lanka
we are supposed to be living in, where shall our family, any
family, rest?” said a source unwilling to be named.
Like him, many others were not as articulate about what they
felt about the country’s security measures. They knew that they
were necessary, but none of them could seem to be able to
qualify the country’s present times for ‘nice’ times.
It is difficult to answer personal anxieties while trying to
balance the nation’s troubles on the other hand. Perhaps it is
even selfish to think like this and even unallowable in any
civic minded man.
But still, like to the Galle Face walkers that we spoke to,
there remains some qualm about bureaucracy.
FDA takes closer look at complaints
from Lasik customers
- A decade after Lasik eye surgery hit the market,
patients left with fuzzy instead of clear vision are airing
their grievances before federal health officials.
Make no mistake: Most Lasik recipients do walk away with crisper
vision, some better than 20/20.
But not everyone’s a good candidate, and an unlucky few do
suffer life-changing side effects: poor vision, painful dry
eyes, glare or problems seeing at night.
How big are the risks? The Food and Drug Administration thinks
about 5% of patients are dissatisfied with Lasik. How many
struggle daily with side effects? How many are just unhappy that
they couldn’t completely ditch their glasses? The range of
effects on patients’ quality of life is a big unknown.
So with a public hearing Friday, the FDA is beginning a new
effort to determine if warnings about Lasik’s risks are
appropriate. The agency also is pairing with eye surgeons for a
major study expected to enroll hundreds of Lasik patients to
better understand who has bad outcomes and exactly what their
“Clearly there is a group who are not satisfied and do not get
the kind of results they expect,” FDA medical device chief Dr.
Daniel Schultz said Thursday. The study should “help us predict
who those patients might be before they have the procedure.”
About 7.6 million Americans have undergone some form of laser
vision correction, including the $2,000-per-eye Lasik. Lasik is
quick and, if no problems occur, painless: Doctors cut a flap in
the cornea — the clear covering of the eye - aim a laser
underneath it and zap to reshape the cornea for sharper sight.
The vast majority of patients, 95%, see better and are happy
they had Lasik, said Dr. Kerry Solomon of the Medical University
of South Carolina, who led a review of Lasik’s safety for the
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
But doctors advise against Lasik for one in four people who seek
the surgery. Their pupils may be too large or corneas too thin
or they may have some other condition that can increase the risk
of a poor outcome.
Solomon estimates that fewer than 1% of patients have severe
complications that leave poor vision. Other side effects,
however, are harder to pin down. Dry eye, for instance, can
range from an annoyance to so severe that people suffer intense
pain and need surgery to retain what little moisture their eyes
form. That’s the kind of question the FDA’s new study is being
designed to answer.
Dry eye is common even among people who never have eye surgery,
and increases as people age. Solomon says that 31% of Lasik
patients have some degree of it before the surgery and that
about 5% worsen afterward.
But dry-eye specialist Dr. Craig Fowler of the University of
North Carolina says other research suggests 48% of patients
experience some degree of dry eye at least temporarily after
Lasik. Cutting the corneal flap severs nerves responsible for
stimulating tear production, and how well those nerves heal in
turn determines how much dry eye lingers long-term, he said.
Even if the risks are low, that’s little consolation to
“As long as you know any ophthalmologist that’s wearing glasses,
don’t get it done,” says Steve Aptheker, 59, a Long Island
lawyer who was lured by an ad for $999 Lasik.
The flaps cut in Aptheker’s cornea literally became wrinkled
during the surgery, blocking vision and causing severe pain. It
took seven additional surgeries over four years to restore his
vision, which Aptheker says still isn’t quite as good as before
his Lasik in 2000.