Written by Tharushan Fernando
07 Oct, 2016 | 9:12 pm
Dry weather conditions are having an emaciating effect on rural communities in the country, where about 400,000 people have been affected.
In Polonnaruwa, the people of Maharathmale in Hingurakgoda have been engaged in a daily battle for the past nine months, in search of water.
A tube well provides drinking water for the 60 families in this village. However, the tube well too is drying up, forcing people to travel two kilometres to draw water from the irrigation canal which carried water from the Minneriya Reservoir to the Kaudulla Reservoir.
Using this water ,which is contaminated by waste from the Hingurakgoda area, poses serious health concerns for the villagers but they have been left with no choice.
In Matara, the dry weather has also had a severe impact on the deep south of the country, where people living in 25 of the 34 Grama Niladhari divisions of Hakmana, Matara, are wilting away in drought conditions.
Wells in the area, which have never dried up in recent times, are today empty, forcing the people here to forego luxuries like bathing. The chronic water shortage has also turned sending children to school, into a headache for the parents. While water is being distributed using bowsers, villagers point out that it is insufficient.
In Anuradhapura, Kiriappuwage Kapuruwa and his ancestors have been tilling the paddy fields for as long as he can recall.This farmer sold everything he owns, in order to cultivate his 15 acres of paddy fields.
But after three months without rain, he waits, hoping for mercy from the weather gods.
In Puttalam, a few months ago, the spill-gates of the Thabbowa Reservoir, which irrigates thousands of acres of paddy fields, were opened to let out excess water – today farmers are waiting for the reservoir to fill up so they can cultivate for the Maha season.
In Hambantota, the people of Pahalaandarawewa in Kurudaan, Hambantota, stand on the roadside on the lookout for the water bowser. The bowser only comes once a fortnight, and families scurry to gather even a drop of water in any kind of container they can find in their homes.
The villagers of Welimadayaya in Monaragala, have been digging up the bed of the Heda Oya for the past three months, in order to quench their thirst.
Meanwhile, the Department of Irrigation says no decision can be made on when cultivation can commence for the Maha season, until November, given the prevailing drought.
The water levels of several major reservoirs has dropped to between 45 and 35 percent.
Minister of Agriculture, Duminda Dissanayake said that there is hope that rain will arrive by the middle of October while for the first time in history, through the Kadawara Perahera, water will be brought from all reservoirs and poured into the Kala Wewa, with the prayer that the rains will come on time and that the farmland will be fertile.
“We will be holding an alms-giving for the gods”, he said
Minister of Disaster Management, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa stated that a sum of Rs.18.1 million for 16 districts has been released.
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