The Uma Oya project has been created environmental, ecological, agricultural, social
damages and has displaced the most people compared to any other project in Sri Lanka. Because this project consist of underground tunnels, dams and other so-called multi-development plans, there have been more than 7450 families displaced in Badulla and Monaragala districts’ ie. Bandarawela,Haliela, Walimada, Uva-paranagama, Ella, Wallawaya electorates. Due to the immense leaks in the underground tunnel boring, domestic and agricultural wells, natural water fountains and other water resources have been completely dried out, resulting in paddy fields and other agricultural lands becoming unusable and has dried out moisture in the soil. It has also made unstable soil layers, resulting in houses and other building destroyed and many people being displaced. Not only that, but also people have not been compensated for the loss of their land.
Yet, the people that have been displaced by this project are facing many difficulties due to the mismanagement and corruption. They still have not been given alternative agricultural lands. Additionally, because of two water resource construction in the lower area of Uma Oya, 19 minor projects and a major Project (Bathmadilla) are all suffering lack of water due to limitation of Uma Oya water flow. Also farmers in Mahavali Landa, who are relying on Uma Oya’s natural water flow, are suffering from this limitation of water by this project.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN DISPLACED BY THIS PROJECT ARE FACING MANY DIFFICULTIES.
This Uma Oya Project’s new main tunnel which is boring from Mahathatilla to Kardagolla underground electric plant15.15 km tunnel making so many clameties in many surrounding areas. which are Makuluella, Hil Oya, Kurukude gama, havanvalla,
Udu-ulpatha, Baddearawa, Liyangahavela, Makulella, Hil Oya, Kurukudegama,
Havanvalla, Udu Ulpatha,Baddearaava, Liyangahavela, Veheragala Thanna,
Kurudugolla,Egedagama, Udaperuva, Madaperuva, Ampitiya, Palleperuva, Karagahawela, Beralanda, Rajakotuva, Agurukotuva, Puhulpola, Dikkapitiya, Ihala Kotavara, Pahala kotavara, Abadandegama, Thanthiya, Kinigama, Dova, Dikaraava. Madahinna, Bidunuvava, Vatagamuva, Gediyaroda, Aththapitiya. Samachayiththiya Gama, Panangala, Mirahavaththa, Purana, Dulgolla, Kandearaava, Mahaulpatha, Badugasthanna, aduvalpathana, Kirioruva, Isuru Uyana, Arawaththa, Udassavadduma, Valasbadhdha, Uthuru Kabbillawella, Dakunu Kabbillawella, Vishaka Mavatha, Eranawila, Mahagalahinna, Kolathanna and Abhayapura, in those Villages water wells have been completely dried out agricultural lands have been destroyed, houses cracked and sinking and people are becoming the development refugees. by this time 7100 houses have been cracked and become unusable 42 houses in Bandarawela local secretarial area and another 15 houses in Ella local secretarial area helping completely destroyed and they were rehoused in other area in rented houses. But other displaced many people how not been housed.
Addition to main tunnel, there are another new tunnel is boring3.9 kilometres long
jointing uma Oya two Branches in between Puhulpola and Mahathatilla water reserves. Because of this construction Lunuwaththa, Madapansala, Dikkapitiya, puhulpola, Koskanuvila,and Balathota Ella, villages all the water wells and agricultural lands have been destroyed. Not only that 23 Most historical religious palaces have been craced including Dova Raja Mahaa Vihara, Hil Oya Puraana Vihaara, Makul Ella Purana Vihara, Palleperuva Mosque. Also Makull Ella High School, and Bandarawella High Schcool and Darmaashoka High School’s building have been cracked and turned into unusable.
All those calamities occurred as soon as the when main tunnel and tunnel that convey the water from Puhulpola water reserve to Mahathatilla water reserve. Second tunnel has been completed by this time. This tunnel bordered by using series of underground explosions. The Main Tunnel, which the water coney From Mahathatilla water reserve to Vallawaya, Kurudugolla, Alikoti Ara, underground electric generating plants, 9 kilometer has been completed. For this two tunnel boring machines have been deployed. Those gigantic calamity occurred while half of full tunnel systems was boring. According to project plan another 26 kilometer to be bored. When this tunnel completes, unavoidably, all Uwa areas’ uplands and mountains will be subject to sunk and landslide.
By this time main tunnel has been derived from Mahathatilla water reserve toward to Karandagolla, now it has been stop boring in Pnangala area and boring of other end of the main tunnel, From Karandagolla to Mahathatilla water reserve has been stopped at Dhik-Ulpatha area, due to gigantic water leaking. First gigantic water leaks and ground sink started when the tunnel rich Makul Ella area.( this is 970 letters per second and still leaking) second Immense leak started at Udaperuva area. (this leak is more than 2700 per second and still leaking). The second leak was started at Udaperuva area. Because of this gigantic leak, from Abedandegama upto Weherahala Thanna, Makulu Ella, Hil Oya. Palleperuwa and Udaperuva all the villages’ every wallter wells, al the natural water fountains and natural water reserves dries out. Because of the third gigantic underground leak in Udaperuva area, happening these days (more than 3000 liters per second and still leaking.) Kinigama, Bidunu-wawa, hapugas Ulpatha, Dhik Ulpatha, areas all the water
resources have drying out.
All this tunnel boring has done in the metamorphic soil layers area. Because of these tunnel being boring in transmuted, unstable soil layers, surface of the Earth has cracked, through those cracks, huge amount of water being drawing from the natural underground water resources, where it situated in between metamorphic soil layers and mother soil layers and
also, from moisture contained in the surface soil layers. Due to this occurrence, drying out all the water wells, agricultural lands, natural water fountains, and natural surface water reserves in the area. Nevertheless, extortion of underground water reserves, the acts of gravity to down ward, upper soil layers are sinking, resulting paddy fields, agricultural
lands, houses are also sinking with it.
In Badulla district along 3090 water wells and 45 natural water fountains have completely been dried out. Hil Oya,gal Akka oya, kakkutu Araava, Kammal Arawa, Nanu Arawa, Gal Kanda Arava, Abagaha Kadura, Viyali Vaguru Ala, Deyiyanne Kuburu Ala, Velangaha Ulpatha Ala, Iluk Arava, Ala, Valithanne Arava Ela, Badde Arava Ela, Amunu Dova Ela, Panangala Vava, Minuvan Ulpath Wava, Plleperuva Ela, Dik Arava Oya, Kurudugolla Oya,naththarankadura Ela, Kirinde Oya, Badulugasthanna Oya, Budunge Arava, Galle Arava Ela, Dhik Ulpatha Kadura, Diyatavatunu Kadura, Dehigas Arava Kadura, Pita Kadura and Badulu Oya have been completely dried out. Since end of the 2015 about 2200 acres of agricultural lands’ agricultural industries had grinded. Aditional to this one of the most beautiful waterfall, call Ravana Ella, situated in Ravana Ella safari land completely dried out. Bidunu Wava, Aluthgama pilla, Dhik Arava, pilla, Maha Vanguva Pilla, Nanu Arava, gal Akka,Pilla, Isuru Uyana pilla, Palle Karuva pilla, Palleperuva pilla, Pille Arava, Madaperuva, madaperuva pilla and badulugasrghanna pilla which were people were used in daily basis for their day to day water needs, have been totally dried out.
For this disaster as a temporary solution, 37 village officers areas 4511 families government has supplied water tank to stock water for day to day use. By the time now 57 water bowsers distributing water to stock to the villages which no water at all, due to the dried out of all the natural water supply they had from thousand of thousand years. 642 Farmers who are lost their income was compensated, Rs 266.5 million, that only for one season of a year income lost. There are so many people who have no compensation at all. Vast majority people who have damaged their houses have not compensated at all. Some people have had Rs 1500/= compensated. Few people who have good connections with authorities have received Rs 12.5 million compensation.
Because of this tunnel boring project, People who lost their water sources provided 500 letters per house in a every coupler week time, this distributions are not constant and sufficient. In some villages, in some high mountain villages and some villages which lack of road facilities the bowsers do not going to those village, villages do not have alternative water supply and they suffering without water. They have to walk far in mountain area to find the water for their needs. Nevertheless water received from the bowser’s big concerns have raised on the quality and hygiene. Therefore people have no alternative but to buy bottled water for drink. People are having difficulties to stock water they may be receiving once a week or so. Some houses have a water tank and another houses plastic containers use
to stok water, but those supply are only enough only for few days, not sufficient to their needs such as having bath, toilet use, washing, cooking Etc, for those needs people are traveling few kilometers to find water resource. For this purpose people who displaced have to expend other expenses.
Result of the boring underground tunnel more than 2200 acres of agricultural lands have
been completely destroyed. Underground water and surface soil moisture draining into the
tunnel constantly, that made agricultural lands cracked and sink.
The natural water resources which were supplied water to those agricultural lands have been dried out. The result of these the rice and vegetable production lost in country nearly few thousand metric tons every month. This is contributing recent shortage of supply and price increase of rice and vegetable in the country’s market.
Farmers who lost their agricultural land received compensated for only one season for their lost. More farmers yet to be received these payment. First payments were made by the Agricultural Department approval on the farmers’ organization presidents. Now they changed the protocol, asking from farmers in order to make compensation they have to produced deed,lands survey plan, bank account showing what was the income that they have received before, copy of the identity card, written application with farmers association president’s’ approval. But most areas those lands have no surveyed and issue the plans for these agricultural lands as they are inherited by generations. From few hundred years then there were no situation had raised to do such to those farmers. By now, to receive very little
payment, the farmers have to bear huge extra expenditure to survey their land and make survey plans, which they can not afford to. This compensation plan is a symbol of unwillingness and negligence.
Meanwhile, officers of Agricultural Department and some officials of farmers association milking out the public funds that reserved to even little compensation for the farmers who have lost their everything. Not only farmers who inherited farmland, the farmers who have deed and survey plan also suffering from corruptions. Farmers who are traditional leases (Anda govi) ,leases farmers, co-op farmers also struggling to get their payment. Some area presidents of farmers’ associations involving cheating these public funds by providing bogus claims for their families and to their friends that have nothing to do this matter. For this corruptions, some officials of government’s Agricultural Department are derectly responsible. Those officials who are mishandling and mismanagement of public funds for
the victim of this disaster, needed to be prosecuted.
KIRIDI OYA RIVER WILL LOSE ITS RAIN FOREST.
There is a proposal to give lands to the people who have lost their lands because of Uma Oya project in Kiridi Oya water basin, Ali Kota Ara water reserve, Kuda Oya water reserve, Hadapaangala Wava, deforested by those are. This proposal is problematic, main concern is on this is Kiridi Oya river will lose it’s rain forest further and will subjected to soil erosions. Due to this it will be intensified depositing mud in the Lunugam-Vehera water reserve and will make unusable. Furthermore, these proposed new deforested agricultural lands are situated in Watahira-Kandha area those area is natural forest reserve elephant’s inhabitant lands. When the elephants lost their inhabitant land it will be render to intensify human- elephant conflict. This proposal will break down human- elephant harmony.
The area above the Uma Oya project’s newly constructed water reserve ie.Walimada and Nuwaraelliya are subjected to high soil erosion. Addition to this because huge
deforestation in Kiridi Oya area and plan to convert as agricultural lands, inevitable result of this events will be intensification of soil erosions. Then the whole project’s newly constructed water reserves and Lunugamvehera water reserve will be turning into fail project soon. Hence the expectation of profitability of the project turning into a fantazi.
Under the proposed Uma oya multi development project, the lands which planning to
develop as agricultural lands are grasslands, heathlands, and forest. They are inhabited by domestic cows, buffaloes, goats and other animals, farmers are using these lands as livestock farming, though use those lands as agricultural lands would limited those animals and livestock farming to find new feeding grounds somewhere else. Inevitably results would be go into nearest protected forest ie. Udavalawe, Lunugamvehera, protected national parks. These days biggest threat to those national parks is unauthorised entry of domestic animals and feeding stock such as cows, buffaloes, goats Etc. this threat will be intensify further by this project.
Without taking into consideration all those issues Uma Oya project have has been done irreversible gigantic calamities in to the eastern uphill in the country. This calamities will not end there, billions of Dollars as a loans have been wasted on this project which has produced no benefits what so ever to the county, but the calamities and nevertheless, so many generations to come in the country, have been become the debtors of it. Currently, compensated to the people whom have lost their everything, public funds have been reserved by the government in addition to the project funds, it is difficult to justified this measures to so many people. Hence, it has been become a national cray to rethink academically and intellectually of this project and come into conclusion whether to carry-on this project or not, by the government as a who devoted to protec future of the country. It is especial further national outcry to consider alternative measures on this calamities.
Bass on the disastrous impact on environment, ecological, social and economical and also the immense difficulties to reach the expected profits and the benefits, it must be stop all the tunnel boring works and refill all the tunnels completely that have been bored in immediate effect. The constructed water reserves can be use as they are. The Puhulpola and Mahathatilla water reserve constructed under the Uma Oya project can be use to deposit water from the Uma Oya river, it will immense help to safeguard lower area of Uma Oya Valley agricultural irrigation systems’ water flow. Keeping the water reserves constructed under the Uma Oya project as they are, in Kiridhi Oya water stream Kudha Oya and Hadapanagala water reserves’ water volume can be increase and this will immense help to the farmers who are farming in surrounding area. Instead of deforestation of 4500 arcs of surrounding area of Kiridhi Oya natural water basin, protect those forests for the increase safeguard of the natural water streams which supply water to Veragala and Lunugamvehera
There will be no problematic to remove the underground electric generation plants plans and refill the holes which have digged in those places and find the way to relocated in lower area of Uma Oya valley. In addition to those, forgoing on deforestation in upper area of Kiridhi Oya valley and Uma Oya valley – reforest, those area to safeguard the natural water streams, fountains, springs and water roots, by doing so it will increased productivity and profitability of the agricultural production exist in those are. Those measures will provide the opportunity to cultivate two seasons of the year, rather than, expanding agricultural lands by extending deforestation. The expected results can be achieved, farmers in Wallawaya and Thanamalvilla agricultural areas by doing so.
In meanwhile people who have lost their agricultural lands and property must be properly compensated and started projects to supply effective way to rewater those farm lands to resume their farming. People who displaced needed to be rehousing and provide alternative areas lands to resume their farming.
By doing so, we can minimised calamities pouring upon environment, ecological, social and economical sectors in Uma Oya valley and Eastern uphill in the country. For implement those sustainable and much needed steps, we all have to sacrifice some extend, but have no any other way exist, on behalf of Sri Lanka and her future generations.