Do not make water a weapon: Basil tells global water conference in Colombo

Monday, 19 August 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lankans have been an agricultural nation which in ancient times had expertise in strict water management and decisions were taken collectively lest individual action would cause harm and losses, according to Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. He recalled this when he participated as Chief Guest in the second international three-day Conference on Community and Water Services at the North Central Provincial Council’s auditorium at Anuradhapura on Friday 16 August. Nearly 500 local and foreign delegates attended the first day of the seminar, titled ‘Water Cooperation for Community Development’ organised by the Water Supply and Drainage Ministry under the direction of Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. Parallel to the seminar a technical and educational exhibition was held at the Water Board premises at Harischandra Mawatha, Anuradhapura. NCP Chief Minister Ranjit Samarakoon hosted the seminar which paid special attention to the rapidly spreading kidney disease in the province. The participants included kidney patients and school children. Minister Rajapaksa said that water should never be made a weapon and reminded that the British colonialists had destroyed the country’s ancient tanks, irrigation systems, reservoirs and other water resources which were the main stay of the country’s economy. Their objective was to break the will of the nation and subjugate it by turning cultivated fertile agricultural land into waste lands. He added that once again the country was reaching self-sufficiency, thanks to the Mahinda Chinthana Vision, although in the process of developing the country various problems are confronting the Government, especially because of the activities of certain groups. He stressed that the Sri Lankan society should not to be racially and religiously divided. The Minister observed that water was strongly linked to the Sri Lankan way of life and culture. A pot filled with water was considered an auspicious symbol and was part of rituals associated with marriages, funerals and religion (Buddhist pirith chanting). The Anuradhapura civilisation gave the highest priority to irrigation technology, according to Minister Rajapaksa, who also pointed out that the mark of prosperity of the village in ancient times was the combination of the tank (wewa) and the dagaba. While industrial development was vital today it was necessary to be fully aware of its harmful side effects, environmental pollution such as effluent and industrial waste seeping into the ground and flowing into water ways, and take preventive measures. Today all possible steps are being taken to repair and restore tanks, provide farmers with fertiliser, protect waters resources and manage them efficiently. Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena and Felix Perera, Chief Minister Ranjit Samarakoon and Deputy Ministers H.N. Chandrasena and Tissa Karaliyedda, Weerakumara Dissanayaka and W.B. Ekanayaka were among those attended the seminar.