Opening of Parakrama Samudraya spill gates perplex Polonnaruwa farmers

Opening of Parakrama Samudraya spill gates perplex Polonnaruwa farmers

Written by Staff Writer

19 Jan, 2014 | 8:09 pm

Farmers in the Polonnaruwa District allege that there is a mystery behind the recent opening of all spill gates of the Parakrama Samudraya.

However, the Department of Irrigation maintains that the spill gates were opened as the water in the reservoir had reached the maximum capacity. The Parakrama Samudraya which has a capacity of 109,000 acre feet, is spread across a vast 2800 square miles.

The Parakrama Samudraya receives water from the Akasha Ganga waterway through an annicut constructed in Angamedilla across the Amban Ganga, one of the main tributaries of the Mahaweli River. It also receives water from several other reservoirs.

Twenty- Thousand (20,000) acres of farmland are nourished by water from the Parakrama Samudraya.

If the waters of the Parakrama Samudraya,which holds such value, is being wasted on the prerogative of private entities, the harm that would be caused cannot be described in words.

People who benefit directly from the Parakrama Samudraya, and people who do not benefit from the giant reservoir, have been affected by this situation. Officials in charge of the Parakrama Samudraya took steps to open all spill gates of the reservoir on the 15th of this month.

Speaking of the alleged mystery, a farmer of the area said,

“The spill gates are opened, when there are no options left and there is flood risk, once, maybe twice a year. The spill gates are not opened for any other reason. They let it fill up to the level of the Palmyrah trees here. We do not know for what reason all 10 spill gates were opened at once.”

The Zonal Irrigation Director in the Polonnaruwa District says that the spill level of the Parakrama Samudraya is 194.2 feet.

He claims that the spill gates were opened as a result of the water level reaching spill level and rainfall experienced in areas upriver of the Amban Ganga.

Another farmer spoke about the matter,

“Even a silt filled waterway did not overflow. Although they open the spill gates now, it will affect us in the harvest seasons to come. They have opened the spill gates before the reservoir was full and the reservoir has not filled up since. We cannot say if it will rain in the near future. This is what the farmers are talking about.”

Whenever the spill gates of the Parakrama Samudraya are opened, an allegation that is leveled is that this measure is taken as a result of flooding at hotels adjacent to the reservoir.

Newsfirst made inquiries from the Director General of Irrigation, Badra Kamaladasa, to ascertain the truth of this allegation.

She said that views are expressed regarding this matter on numerous occasions and that letters on this issue have been received by the department. She noted however, that there is no connection whatsoever, between the inundation of hotels in the area and the opening of the spill gates of the reservoir.

The Director General of Irrigation further said:

“There is a technical regulation for us to open the spill gates, where we open the spill gates when the water reaches  certain level. This varies from reservoir to reservoir;  spill gates of the Rajanganaya reservoir are not opened in the same way that spill gates of the Parakrama Samudraya are opened. People need to look at the rainfall upriver. If there is a sudden gush of water then the water will flow over the top and the dam will be harmed. Opening the gates is not an easy decision to make. We consider several parameters and think about it before taking the decision.”

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