Text and pix by Channa
January 25, 2009, marked the completion of two years since the
inauguration of the construction work of Moragahakanda Kaluganga
project. This important project, which comes under the Mahaweli
River Development Programme, is expected to completely address
the irrigation needs of the North Central Province (NCP). A
visit to the area earmarked for the project, would provide ample
evidence of a considerable amount of work done during the last
two years, in constructing the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka.
The project area is located in the Laggala electorate of the
Matale District in the Central Province. It also extends to some
parts in the NCP. The most convenient way to approach the area
is via Dambulla. Following a few minutes drive along the
Dambulla-Kandalama road, one enters the new road built through
the Minneriya forest reserve, which leads to Bakamuna, an area
which has been benefited by the Mahaweli project. The project
office, which coordinates the construction activities of
Moragahakanda project, is situated a couple of kilometers away
from Elahera, a small village by the Ambanganga.
Among the most important construction work carried out so far in
this project is the building of Kumbiyangahaela-Elahera road,
which partly encircles the Moragahakanda reservoir. Over 70% of
the construction work of this access road has now been completed
and, as a result, visitors can get a clear view of the vast
extent of land earmarked for the Moragahakanda reservoir,
hopefully, in another six years time. The building of several
bridges and buildings to accommodate workers and officials, are
among the other rapid construction activities apparent to a
Driving along this access road, one can enter the construction
site of one of the two rock filled saddle dams of the
Moragahakanda reservoir. About 15% of the work in constructing
saddle dam No: 2 has now been completed, according to the
engineers at the site. The reservoir consists of two rock filled
saddle dams, in addition to the roller compacted concrete main
dam, which is expected to be about 65 metres in height. The
three dams will support the active storage of over 500 million
cubic metres of water.
Although, the construction work of the project has already
completed two years, one can still find several farmer families
engaged in agricultural activities in small villages expected to
go under water in a few years time. According to Agriculture
Development & Agrarian Services Minister Maithripala Sirisena,
these families are expected to be resettled in new Mahaweli
villages to be built in the areas to be developed under the
“Some of these villagers do not want to leave Matale District.
Therefore, we have made all arrangements to resettle them in
Mahaweli villages, which will be built with all the
infrastructure facilities, including roads, drinking water,
electricity, hospitals and schools etc. There are some who
prefer to be resettled in the Polonnaruwa District. They will be
given lands in some selected areas in Medirigiriya,” the
The Minister said that, since the commencement of the project in
January, 2007, the Government has paid full attention to the
resettlement of people in the area.
“We visited every household, even before the commencement of the
project, and talked to these families. They fully understand the
importance of this project and are satisfied with the
resettlement arrangements. But, due to petty political reasons,
some politicians in this area are staging protests,” the
According to the Minister, about 2,100 families will need to be
resettled due to Moragahakanda-Kaluganga project.
“Over 1,500 families will have to be resettled due to the
Moragahakanda reservoir, while 600 families will lose their
lands due to the Kaluganga reservoir. But the resettlement will
need to be done only after five years, since the commencement of
the project. Until then, they can engage in their agriculture
activities here,” the Minister said.
The Minister said that Moragahakanda-Kaluganga project would
take at least 7 years to complete from its commencement.
“The total estimated cost for the project is about Rs. 62,000
million. We have utilized about Rs. 1,200 million for the
surveys and the construction work carried out so far. The most
important thing is that, the money we have utilised so far, is
from Government revenue. We have not yet taken a single cent as
foreign aid for this project,” the Minister said.
However, he said that, the Government would need foreign aid to
complete the project and it has already had discussions with
several countries for assistance.
“The governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have already agreed
to provide us with financial assistance. We also expect the
Japanese government, through its Japan International Cooperation
Agency (JICA), to provide us with financial and technical
assistance. We expect the foreign aid component of this project
to be around US$ 400 million,” the Minister said.
He said that benefits of Moragahakanda project will not only be
limited to the NCP but will extend to the adjoining Central and
“This is a 99% agriculture oriented project. Farmers in the NCP
will be able to cultivate paddy for three seasons, after the
completion of this project. That will increase the national
paddy production by about 30%.
It will also solve the drinking water problems of people in
Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee and Matale Districts.
Those who engage in fresh water fishing and cultivation of
vegetable and fruit crops, would also benefit from this project.
In addition, the project would generate about 30 MWs of
electricity,” Minister Sirisena said.
Moragahakanda-Kaluganga project is expected to contribute to the
future development of the NCP. But, its benefits will
undoubtedly extend to some parts of the North and Eastern
provinces which have been affected by three decades of war. The
Government, at present, has been able to wipe out terrorism from
these two provinces, and has already focused on development of
the North and East. Moragahakanda-Kaluganga project will also
play a considerable role in developing these areas.