Irrigation wells at Sandamaleliya

In far too many parts of Sri Lanka, water has been treated as a free gift but it is not always the case in a place like Sandamal Eliya at Tanthitrimalei due to unpredicted monsoon rains. The harsh weather might fast dried up by the irrigation tanks too.

Majority of the people in such an area live by engaging in the paddy and Chena cultivation by using the water from monsoon rains filled in the ancient tanks. This was not a problem when all the tanks were operating as in pre colonization period but many of those tanks were abundant later thanks to the shameful nature of short sighted Sri Lankan politicians who should admit their inability to cope;

  • Identifying the responsible Irrigation officers but taken the services of Tamil officers Who in fact jeopardized the tanks being abundant due to their own agendas.
  • Admitting to heavy debts to the institutions like world bank but not used the money effectively throughout the worthy courses after the freedom.
  • The policy of providing almost all the facilities confined to Colombo suburbs under the “Kolombata Kiri-Apita Kakiri (Milk for Colombo-Water for us slogan) policy.
  • They could not further found an answer for true long-term sustainability to develop the farmers in North and East of Sri Lanka.

The situation became worst when the Tamil separatism has sneaked in to these native Sinhalese villages. Since the Tamil separatism problem described in the back grounds of many of other projects in Helabima organization, it is not stated in this page while explain the remedies to overcome the grave situation in Sandamal Eliya village.

It is identified by Helabima organization; to find the funds to renovate irrigation tanks was higher compare to make a cultivation tank by the previous experiences of making tanks.

Helabima organization acted on multi linked fronts as to streamline this problem by making the cultivation wells. 

Its been calculated the amount of water required for the particular area against the number of people to be feed as well as the amounts used in the farming, thus found at least ten large size cultivation wells to be needed.

This observation based on the fact; one kilogram of rice requires about thousand liters of water to be produced. If a kilo of rice takes 1,000 liters to grow, it takes between five to ten times more to produce a kilo of meat. A very basic survival diet will use about one cubic meter a day for one person, while a vegetarian diet will absorb 2.6 cubic meters a day. The rate of pumping out the water from the wells taken in to the consideration accordingly.

The next investigation started with the support of the engineers in Irrigation department in the area about the feasibility factor of those wells in order to avoid the area to the desertification due to the lowering of the water table as if the water excessively pumped out from the earth. A case of lowering the water table obviously would harm the growth of plants and it will further lowering the water table and can not stop this cumulative disaster and the deterioration of the environment. Tamil Nadu in India taken as a good example in making the cultivation wells without a proper planning thus some areas affected by permanent desertification.

The gap between the supply and demand of the water would have been much worse if the water pouring away and make unsuitable through pollution then needed to maintain strict policies for the water management.

This potential problem had been discussed with the prominent characters in the area like Venerable Tantirimalei Chandaratana Thero at Tantirimalei main temple and the Chief thero at Sandamal Eliya temple. They had promised to advise and educate the people about this concern.

At the fag end of 1999, the wells had been completed and handed over to the people in Sandamal Eliya village. A three inch water pumps operated by Kerosene and 100 meters of water tubes per a well also included in this project.

The total cost of the project was 6,62,000 RS (Approximately 6200 USD). 

This project has been identified as a properly planned as well as environmental friendly project by many patriotic persons and organizations in Sri Lanka.