I am in Minneriya during the Poson weekend, for some rest and relaxation, but I have been confronted by a problem that the local farmers have brought to my attention that I believe needs to be noted at the national stage and I do not see the prominence given to it as it deserves.
As I came by bus to Minneriya at dawn last morning, I was shocked at the low level of water of the Minneriya tank, which was full at the same time last month when I was here a for a few days over Vesak. It shows that there is no water to be sent from Polgolla via the Yoda Ela down to Polonnaruwa as the Victoria Dam is empty and the water level has gone down to a depth that the old Teldeniya town which was submerged is now on dry land!
If there is no serious rain, then the farmers who have sown will lose their crops as I do not believe there is enough water in the Minneriya Tank today to tide them over till the harvest. So at least the farmers who were not allowed to work their land in the Elahera Bakamoona line are spared this disaster, though they are agitating for a greater share of land to be ploughed, not realizing why they have been asked to keep the land fallow. There is not proper information flow from bureaucrat to farmer.
It is a mess that does not have a solution, as the farmers have ploughed in everything literally into the land and if they are not able to harvest, there is no real relief, which is enough to turn the area into a disaster zone with farmers not being able to feed their families. It is a possibility not worth contemplating, but needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, alerting them to the impending disaster rather than them having to face the music later. It is important therefore that the water to the land is reduced immediately to save it for a later date rather than hope for rain that may not transpire. We in Sri Lanka are poor communicators and it shows.
Let us begin with a water index in the newspapers and highlight the value of water conservation immediately especially for farmers who waste water as they do not pay for it directly. It is only then that farmers will not waste water unnecessarily in a way I have pointed out time and again here in the blog, to prevent other farmers from getting water. I believe that we MUST ACT NOW before it is too late for this season. The young paddy plants look so lush and green today hiding what might be in store!!