More than 100 members of the Army, together with a few other tri-service and Civil Security Department personnel under the 'Pibidemu Polonnaruwa' district development project of the 'Rajarata Navodaya' of the Presidential Secretariat began renovation, one of the most vital irrigational tanks, called the 'Chandana Pokuna' in the general area of Hingurakgoda, Minneriya in Polonnaruwa district on Friday (2).
It was initiated by HE the President Maithripala Sirisena during a ceremony in response to a public appeal at Hingurakgoda as the first irrigational tank under this programme.
The inauguration of the programme of renovating of 2400 irrigational tanks commenced with the intention of reviving the ancient irrigation development in the country to emerge as a self-sufficient nation.
Accordingly old irrigation tanks, those were not renovated for a long period of time, in the North, East, North Western and North Central provinces will also be renovated under this programme. 123 irrigational tanks in the Polonnaruwa district will receive complete renovation under the first phase.
This lake has been providing water to cultivate thousands of acres of land since the times of ancient kings. 'Chandana Pokuna' lake which has a gross water capacity of 800 acre/feet provides its benefits to 300 farming families in the area after expected renovations.
These renovations are carried out with the support of Sri Lanka Army under the 'Pibidemu Polonnaruwa (Awakening of Polonnaruwa)' District Development Project of the 'Rajarata Navodaya'.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony the President said that the objective of this programme is to strengthen the economy of the farmer community as well as to strengthen the national economy of the country by giving a new impetus for the field of agriculture and food production. He further said that it is the responsibility of everybody to contribute to achieve success in this programme to give a better living standard for the farming community in the country.
The cost of renovations has been earlier estimated at Rs. 16 million but Army intervention in the national task has brought it down to as low as Rs. 2.5 million there by saving a lot for the national budget.
Under the first phase of the project, with the concurrence of the Commander of the Army, the troops under the supervision of Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe (Rtd), Project Director, 'Pibidemu Polonnaruwa' with the support of Civil Security Department personnel recently conducted collecting spreads of moss, invading plants and other wild creepers floating inside the tank. To be in line with the Commander's conceptual view that 1/3 of the Army should all the time be dedicated for nation-building, the Security Force Headquarters - East (SFHQ-E), commanded by Major General Santhusitha Pananwala deployed the Army contingent and Army vehicles to begin clearing and renovation work of the tank recently before the ceremonial inauguration began Friday (2) morning.
The moss-covered 'Chandana Pokuna' tank, which relates to the times of ancient kings continues to remain as the major source of water supply for thousands of acres of irrigational and cultivable land and provides water to more than 325 families for sanitary and washing purposes in the area. However, this tank with a spread of 42.2 acres turned infested with a dense cover of wild creepers, moss and different watery plants and has been neglected to ruin since its bunds had not received any attention of the authorities for over 20 years. Affected villagers in recent times have however brought the unfortunate condition of this tank to the notice of HE the President Maithripala Sirisena.
After intended clearing and renovations, it is believed that the tank capacity could be further expanded with rainy water, adequate to irrigate 1000 more acres of cultivable lands during drought seasons.
Presidential Secretariat with the intention of uplifting economic standards and livelihoods of the rural-folk by improving the country's infrastructure facilities, expects these projects to usher in a new era of prosperity and development in the rural sector with the cooperation of the Security Forces.
Different assignments in Polonnaruwa, now in full swing under the overall supervision of the Presidential Secretariat and also in close liaison with respective Village Development Societies, Grama Niladari officials, Samurdi officials, village chieftains and all other stakeholders at village level, are closely evaluated by the Central Environment Authority, officials of the Irrigation Department, Agrarian Services Department, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Under the 'Pibidemu Polonnaruwa' project of the 'Rajarata Navodaya', Army Engineers, belonging to Corps of Engineer Services (CES) and Field Engineers, Navy and Air Force personnel as at present are enthusiastically carrying out infrastructure development work of schools, religious places, state health agencies, archaeological sites, community halls, sports complexes, tanks, etc in areas under 7 Divisional Secretariats in Polonnaruwa District, in addition to their engagement in Chinese-funded special projects.
Public representatives of the area, including Polonnaruwa District Secretary, Mr Ranjith Ariyarathna, Director, 'Pibidemu Polonnaruwa' development project, Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe (Rtd) and a few other military Officers joined this event.