Home » Uma Oya project reservoir opens with more damages than benefits for villagers 

Uma Oya project reservoir opens with more damages than benefits for villagers 

The Diaraba Reservoir built under the Uma Oya Multi-Purpose Project inaugurated with the water release to the Diaraba reservoir from the Puhulpola Reservoir recently creating More damages than benefits for the people in the area, villagers, social activists and environmentalists complained Diyaraba Reservoir opened as the first phase of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project and water is directed from Puhulpola Reservoir, which is the main reservoir of this project, to Diyaraba Reservoir through a tunnel. Four reservoirs- Alikota Ara reservoir, Diaraba reservoir, Puhulpola reservoir and Handapanagala reservoir, were constructed under the mega project to divert 145 million cubic meters of water from the Uma Oya Basin, without impacting its environmental and other water needs to the Kirindi Oya Basin in the water-scarce Southern Zone. This achievement brings an additional 120 megawatts of electricity to the national power grid and facilitates the cultivation of 15,000 acres of paddy fields in the Yala basin The water from these reservoirs is used for irrigation of 50,000 acres of dry land and is also used to meet drinking water needs of Greater Bandarawela area. Alikotaara and Kuda Oya reservoirs are also used to provide water for agricultural purposes. Here, the water capacity of the Hadapanagala reservoir will be increased by the Kuda Oya Reservoir. This project was initiated in the year 2008 by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with funds from the Iranian government and during the time of the former President Maithripala Sirisena, many activities of the multi-purpose project were carried out. During the time of the former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the work continued and the current President Ranil Wickramasinghe, had to face many challenges to carry out the Uma Oya multi-purpose project due to the financial issues and was able to resolve those financial issues with the support of the cabinet. Iran’s Teheran-based Farab Co. was the EPC Contractor of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Project with a total cost of US $ 514.5 million (Rs.15, 474 million), 85% of which was provided by t According to a recent research survey of Sri Lanka Nature Group (SLNG) most of the houses in surrounding villages to reservoirs are partly or fully damaged, wells and springs have dried up and swathes of agricultural lands have been abandoned due to there being no water for cultivation. Emeritus Prof. Jinadasa Katupotha, Department of Geography of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, vehemently opposing the Uma Oya project urged the Government to permanently shut down the project due to its geographical and geological unsuitability apart from social, economical and ecological issues. “ This is one of the most unsuccessful projects in the Sri Lankan history. It is not viable to continue with the project even after addressing the main factor – the tunnel leakage, he added. Many cautious environmentalists warned that the Uma Oya watershed cannot sustain such a large water diversion project.

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