President Maithripala Sirisena has said that agriculture is the basis of the country’s economy and emphasised on strengthening agricultural economy while downplaying the role of foreign investments which according to the President leads to corruption.
“Since the king’s day, the economy of the country was strengthened by agriculture. The agriculture is the basis of the future of our country today and tomorrow,” the President said at the inauguration of water release to the Kalu Ganga reservoir of the Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga multi-purpose irrigation project recently.
Speaking at the event, the President said it has become a difficult task to prevent corruption that comes along with foreign investments.
“Politicians get corrupted by foreign investments. Public officers become corrupt. Normal public relating to the foreign investments get corrupted. This is a serious issue in our country and the whole world. This is also a problem for powerful countries in the world when it comes to stealing and corruption,” he said.
The President stressed that the clean, corruption, fraud and waste free path to strengthen the economy of the country is to strengthen the agricultural economy and empower the farmers, recognising their tears and sweat and addressing their problems.
He said the country marked a significant milestone with the inauguration of the filling of water to the Kalu Ganga Reservoir that is being built parallel to the Moragahakanda reservoir under the Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga multi-purpose irrigation project at a cost of $ 1.2 billion.
The release of the maiden waters took place under the patronage of the President near the Laggala Kalu Ganga Dam.
Speaking further, The President said that he had not yet heard of any corruption or malpractices in this project since he took it under him. He appealed to the leaders of the farmers to personally inform him if any contractor is building the necessary structures without proper standards when billions of rupees are spent on construction of the reservoirs, canals, dams and tunnels under the project.
He said that if there are any defects in these constructions by contractors and if there are any corruption or malpractices taking, he would entertain complaints in this respect. He said would not leave room for anyone to engage in such malpractices and would not pardon any persons involves in such vices.
“If there are any fraud and corruption during the constructions, personally inform me. I will not pardon any politicians or any government officials or any other contractors who commit frauds and corruption in these projects,” the President stressed.
President Sirisena said he will introduce a new unit next week to address the public complaints of corruption. A special unit will be opened introducing telephone and fax numbers for farmer communities to lodge complaints if there are any corruption occurring in the project.
The President also unveiled a 27 feet tall granite replica of the Avukana Buddha Statue on one edge of the Moragahakanda Reservoir bund amid chanting of Seth Pirith.
The Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga multi-purpose irrigation project was designed to harvest water from Amban Ganga and Kalu Ganga, two tributaries of Mahaweli Ganga, with the construction of Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga reservoirs, for irrigation and power generation purposes.
The biggest multi-functional irrigation is project aimed at irrigating parched dry lands in the Rajarata, Wayamba, Central and Eastern Provinces and Wanni in the Northern Province.
In addition to irrigation of land, water from the Moragahakanda Reservoir generates 25-megawatt power at the Moragahakanda Hydroelectric Power Station. The hydro-electricity plant was also added to the national grid today by the President.
The President also named the Moragahakanda reservoir as the Kulasinghe reservoir in memory of renowned engineer Dr. A.N.S. Kulasinghe who assisted the President when he was Minister of Mahaweli Development in designing the project.
After the water release, the President joined in inspecting the Upper Elahera Canal, the longest underground tunnel in South Asia that links the two reservoirs. Construction of the 96 km canal with the tunnel being built at a cost of Rs. 67 billion also commenced today.
The Kalu Ganga reservoir is created by blocking the river which starts from the Knuckles range of the Dumbara valley at Laggala Pallegama area.
The total capacity of the reservoir is 248 million cubic meters. The main dam is 618 meters long and 68 meters high. The top of the dam is 8 meters wide. The water bed is 128 square km and the size of the reservoir is 14.5 square km.
The Kalu Ganga reservoir will supply water to 3,000 families who have been resettled in the lower valley of the river.
It is planned to take water from old Haththota anicut and after supplying water to over two thousand acres of cultivated land, release excess water to the Moragahakanda Reservoir. The construction of the Moragahakanda Reservoir was completed last year.
The Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga project will provide irrigation facilities to 81,422 hectares in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, provide potable and industrial water supply to Anuradhapura and Trincomalee towns and generate electricity by hydropower while opening up 5000 hectares of new land for agriculture development in Northern, North Central, Eastern and North Western provinces.