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 Post subject: Deduru Oya irrigation project
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:57 pm 
Deduru Oya irrigation project

More than 45 years ago a mega irrigation project cutting across the Deduruoya at Thunmodara in Wariyapola was planned. It aimed at irrigating the Puttalam District and the Rajanganaya. But despite several efforts never got off the ground. The project died a natural death even before it commenced due to the protests of affected parties.


Source Research report By Thusara Navodini Wickramaarachchi, Hydrologist, Water Resources Secretariat of Sri Lanka

Deduru Oya basin is the fifth largest river basin in the country covering 2616 km2. The annual rainfall in the basin averaged to 1628mm. Annual rainfall varies spatially and temporally across the basin significantly. Annual evaporation in the area averaged 1250 mm. The total basin population is approximately one million. Water use for irrigation and agriculture is at very high percentage compared to water usage in other sectors such as domestic, industrial and commercial. There are four major reservoirs to support irrigated agriculture systems in the basin. In addition to the major reservoirs, approximately 3000 small and medium size tanks are found in the basin to provide irrigation and domestic water supplies. In Deduru Oya basin, the surface water availability varies spatially and temporally across the basin, significantly. Hence the water resources assessment is an important exercise to establish accountability of water to meet present and future demands.


97% of the basin’s area covered by the North Western Province (Kurunegala and Puttalam Districts) and 3% by the Central Province (Kandy and Matale Districts).


Deduru Oya scheme

Source: presentation by Eng R.A.D. Jayanthi from the Dept of Irrigation, 5th and 6th Dec 2003, First National Dialogue on Dams and Development

The proposals for Deduru Oya scheme are as follows

1. Construction of a dam across Deduru Oya
2. Construction of Right Bank canal to augment Inginimitiya tank.
3. Construction of Left Bank canal to provide water for the small tanks

The capacity of the reservoir will be about 75 MCM while it incepts a catchment of about 1400 km2. The Right bank canal will be a trans basin diversion to Mi Oya catchment, which will feed Inginimitiya tank. The main aim is to increase the cropping intensity of this scheme to 150%. Under this canal a new area of 400 Ha will be brought under cultivation.

In addition power plant of 8 GWh is to be installed and provision for drinking water for the two cities Wariyapola and Nikaweratiya are expected to met.

A resettlement program for 600 families affected by the construction of the dam are planned to be settled in the near by Urban areas. The displaced families will be given three choices

a) Settlement in a urban area - land of extent 20 perch
b) Settlement in a semi urban area – 01 Ac
c) Settlement in a rural area - 2 Ac paddy from Ridi Bendi Ela scheme

Current Problem

Currently, the main problem faced by the farmers in the Deduru Oya and Mee Oya Basins is the non-availability of assured water supply for the agricultural areas, since the basins are predominantly situated in the dry zone of the country. The water available with the rainfall and collected in the existing irrigation schemes is not sufficient for successful two-season cultivation. 70 percent of annual rainfall in the Dedura Oya catchment flows to the ocean without having been used in any way to serve the needs of the Sri Lankan population, resulting in not optimally developed agriculture in the area.

After studying the options and the alternatives for the approach as suggested in the pre-feasibility study, a consortium proposed to realize a reservoir of 75 million cubic meters by the construction of a dam across the Deduru Oya river with two canals of respectively 62 and 33 kilometers, supplying existing irrigation schemes and creating new irrigation schemes in the Deduru Oya and Mee Oya Basins. Furthermore, a powerhouse will be constructed in the dam to supply the project area with power; drinking water will be supplied from the proposed reservoir and water for environmental use from the augmented run of the river will be supplied.

900 families will be displaced at the completion the total project and these people will be given compensations accordingly. The 79 families displaced in the Weraherayagama village in Wariyapola are already given lands from the Anamaduwa electorate in the Puttalam district.

Deduru Oya scheme in the doldrums

@ ST / Sunday, June 17, 2007
By Hiran Priyankara, Jayasinghe & Pushpakumara Jayaratne

All the water that now flows through the lands on the banks of Deduru Oya is rain water. Once the rains cease villagers dig wells to find water therein. The villages affected by the project are Pothuwewa, Walpaluwa, Walagane, Thambarawa Karambahadigama, Divulgaspitiya, Weraherayagama and Nindagama areas.

The land covered by these villages is around 5,000 acres. According a survey conducted in 2006, of these 5,000 acres, 1,536 acres are paddy lands. The lands affected are suitable for cultivation of coconut, bananas and cashew as long-term crops, with a possibility of under cropping with vegetable. The villagers who have tended these lands over the years are now in no mood to move out, unless they are adequately compensated.
They refuse to budge sans compensation.

The river has a capacity to supply over 70 million cubic metres of water which can supply water to paddy fields via an Ela 60 km long to an extent as large as 2,700 hectares, while another 32 km long Ela can supply water to a further 5,415 hectares of land. It was also proposed to construct a power house with a capacity to generate 1.5 volts of electricity.

The proposed project further aimed to strengthen the Indibediamuna and Vagalla irrigation schemes by bringing another 3,000 hectares of land under cultivation.

The project is anticipated to cost Rs. 6,200 million and does not require foreign aid. The project which is expected to be completed in 2010, would generate funds amounting to Rs. 15 million in 2006, Rs. 720 million in 2007, Rs. 2,000 million in 2007 and another 2,000 million in 2008.
The total revenue the project is expected to yield by 2009 & 2110 is expected to be over Rs. 3,469 million! This could be considered a large return on investment.

Villagers however claim that despite the huge projected revenue, the state has not thought of compensating the villagers displaced by the project adequately. Even the issue of finding alternative land for the displaced has not been studied by Government officials and thereby hangs a tale.

Areas such as Ganewatta, Wariyapola, & Kobeigana were earmarked for the displaced, but no action had been taken yet. Instead 78 families have been resettled in elephant-infested areas of the Puttalam District.

Many of those who were settled in those areas left the region in fear of elephants. It is baffling as to why those displaced under the irrigation scheme were selected to be re-settled in such a deprived area. There are no water facilities available to the 32 families who live in fear of wild elephants. These families often spend nights under trees.

Rs. 16,000/- has been allocated for housing, This sum is not inadequate in absolute terms. The remainder of the families have received no relief of any kind.

The so-called gang of 1,500 is a reference to those displaced under the proposed scheme. They have banded themselves together as “Those rendered helpless due to the Deduru Oya Project”. The group demanding relief, organised its first protest demonstration on the 11th.

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