Paddy cultivation at risk as drought continues in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

Paddy cultivation at risk as drought continues in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

Written by Bella Dalima

24 Sep, 2014 | 8:55 pm

Farmers in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa say that they are uncertain about cultivating in the Maha Season as well as a result of the persisting drought.

The Irrigation Department says that the heads in the area have been called to Colombo in order to reach a decision on the releasing of water from the irrigation system for the Maha Season. The water levels of the Parakrama Samudraya, Minneriya, Giritale and Kavudulla reservoirs in the Polonnaruwa District are currently at extremely low levels.

Farmers say that the scattered showers that have been experienced have been insufficient to replenish the reservoirs.

The Parakrama Samudraya which has a capacity of 110,000 thousand acre feet currently holds only 52,000 acre feet of water.

Although the Minneriya Reservoir should hold 110,000 acre feet of water this time of year, the reservoir only has 30,000  acre feet of water.

Irrigation Department data shows that the Kavudulla Reservoir, which nourishes 13,000 acres of paddy fields only holds 4,000 acre feet of water at present.

As a result of the chronic water shortage, farmers in the Kavudulla Agrarian Settlement Scheme were  able to cultivate less than 3,000 acres in the Yala Season.

The farmers are facing a severe economic crisis in the face of the drought.

Extremely low water levels have also been reported from key reservoirs in the Anuradhapura District including the Nuwara Wewa, Thisawewa and Basawakkulama Reservoir.

As a result, water could not be released appropriately for about 100,000 hectares of paddy fields in the district over the last two seasons.

The Director of the Water Management Unit of the Department of Irrigation, Janaki Meegasthenna says that a definitive decision cannot be taken as yet regarding cultivation for the Maha Season. She added that plans for water distribution will have to be drawn-up in the next two weeks.

Noting that a timetable would have to be prepared given the low water levels of reservoirs, Meegasthenna added that at present, the water levels of reservoir are at 12 percent on average.

She added that the Department had decided to call the District Irrigation Directors to Colombo, to discuss the issue and determine if the water currently in the irrigation system can be used for cultivation.




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