Political children
Posted on July 27th, 2016

By: C. Wijeyawickrama

It is a silly drama. Two sides claiming the fatherhood for the Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganaga canal project. MS says MR prevented it and removed him from the ministry to delay it. MR says MS also worked hard to get the project going. They even show a video clip where MS was praising MR for the project. In the meantime UNP man Harindra Fernando says UNP was the father of this project as it was in their Regaining Sri Lanka plan.

The larger Mahaveli Project was rushed in such a hurry by JRJ that it has done so much untold harm to the small island and its people. What benefit did it give to the people by reducing a 30-year project to 5 years or 10 years? The political fools did not think of the long-term welfare of the people or the environment. This was so even with the Gal Oya project of DSS. He ignored the advice of many including Dr. S A Wickremasinghe, who pleaded that instead of a monster Samudra, to build several smaller upstream reservoirs. This was the concept followed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in USA, which gave the idea to Ceylon at that time. The unwise behavior by Ceylonese fools resulted in creating a near white elephant, well recorded in the book written by B H Farmer.

Now, with all this drama, a new threat is raising its head. Vigneswaran, is asking that the NPC should be given a right to claim the Moragahakanda water pool. This is the first sign of a disastrous fight that will come with 13-A and the new federal set up in the cards. There will be water wars along the Province boundaries and UNO will come as the settler of water disputes. Seven years ago, I pointed out this problem and now it has become a reality.

It is time, that we look at this issue again now in 2016. That essay which was printed in Lankaweb is appended below.

‘Federal’ Marriages and Water Wars
Posted on August 5th, 2009

By: C. Wijeyawickrama

There is no state without a Tamil – but there is no state for the Tamils.” World Confederation of Tamils (www.tamilnation.org)

‘India is a Myth’:

The merchants of federal formula are reluctant to compare ‘Federal’ arrangements with marriage contracts. In the recent past we saw this behavior first hand in an exchange of letters with one Kandappa from Jaffna under the titles Federalism and Marriage” and Federalism and Sexism” (Island, Jan 11, 2006). The comparison exposes defects in the Federal method. This is why Mr. Anandasangaree has become the Ambedkar of Sri Lanka preaching to JVP that the Indian model is not really a Federal but a mixture of Federal and Unitary.

Perhaps Mr. Anandasangaree may not be aware of the fact that India is a myth” is a protest movement alive amongst groups of Tamils in India who call India, Hindia or Hindistan. One would wonder why recently Mr. Anandasangaree, himself had to ask in vain from Karunanidhi to not violate the federal decision to train 200 police officers in Tamilnadu, if his Indian model is that not Federal but mixture of Federal & Unitary! (Island, Aug 10, 2006). The Dravidasthan movement that began in South India in the 1930s is buried and not dead as evidenced by the arrest of MDMK’s Manimaran under the Indian Penal Code section 153(b) and the arrest warrant open for Kandanbam of DPI (Dalit Panther of India).

Marvil Aru Anicut:

The blockage and bombing of the Marvil Aru-Verugal Aru area have proven to the world that the theory of a joint Federal and Unitary is also a myth like the hoax of a traditional Tamil homeland in the Eastern Province. The Malaria mosquito simply did not allow it as pointed out by the geography professor G. H. Peiris. If a party failed for a divorce (from Unitary partner) despite a generous court order (CFA, 2002), the greatest giveaway in history according to the Scotsman Paul Harris) and a humiliating surrender by the other party (I-SL Agreement, 1987), tried to use water supply to make the marriage under one roof unpleasant, what is in store when the parties were to be allowed to move into their own separate houses?

Water Wars in India:

Mr. Kandappa in January 2006 accepted the fact that Tamilnad has had water wars with two of its neighbors, Kerala and Karnataka, under the Indian model. India had water wars with Pakistan and is bound to have water wars with Pakistan in Kashmir. India has water disputes with Bangladesh-a river delta that became a separate country- where the big brother’s decisions makes Bangladesh either flooded with excess water or starved of water during the dry season.

I raised the issue of water wars between Tamilnad and its neighbors in order to show that federalism is not the solution to help Sri Lankan Tamils to achieve their aspirations” (mentioned by the late Kumar Pannambalam) or to handle the legitimate Tamil grievances” (emphasized recently by US governmental officers Jeff Lunstead, Richard Boucher and Nicholas Burns, and Indian leaders Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi). Rivers do not respect political boundaries.

Hence there were water disputes between countries (USA-Canada, India-Pakistan, India-Bangladesh, Egypt-Sudan) and between states under ‘Federal’ marriages. Water (Jordan River) is a hidden time bomb in the Middle East conflict.

Water and ‘Federal’ marriage Contracts:

Water as an essential human need becomes a political weapon because it operates at the interface of time and space. Water at the wrong place in the wrong time becomes flood and disaster. Water not at the right place in the right time creates drought and famine. Too much water or too little water at a given place and in a given time can be manipulated for political purposes if the two parties to a federal marriage happen to be upstream versus downstream water users.

Water is a good example to show the value of the epithet, You cannot legislate against geography.” Water flows from high to low ground irrespective of political boundaries. Actually, ‘Federal’ arrangements are also examples of acceptance of this epithet because it allows diverse regions to become stronger by the human political mechanism of federation or confederation. EU is the best example in this regard, to treat the European landmass as one political unit.

The Federal arrangement is done by either with two lists or three lists. Two lists give federal powers and state powers. Three lists is the Indian method with of an additional concurrent list. With regard to water use this is a recipe for disaster.

In a Flat World” of globalization, constitutions, schedules, court cases, water compacts or arbitrations are instruments designed to handle water disputes. Lawyers and constitutional book experts thrive under this arrangement, but in the end people will die at the water front. USA has followed this method.

Yet even American and Canadian fishermen came close to shooting at each other at sea several times in the past on fishing rights. The two states, Oklahoma and Texas had river water disputes because the Red River between the two shifts horizontally over the years. The Colorado River water use allocation is an issue for all the states sharing it. The mighty Colorado ends as a sludge-toxic canal when it reaches the border between USA and Mexico.

Sri Lanka’s Eelam Boundary:

Whether, Sri Lanka’s ‘Federal’ formula merchants could prevent future Marvil Arus by a thick document, regulating water rights and water allocations is a life and death issue for all Sri Lankans. Can the national list, the state list and the concurrent list prepared by a group of Colombo, lawyers prevent an aggressive marriage partner who had a bitter divorce fight from demanding more water when a drought prevents releasing more water downstream?

Will there be border clashes or filing cases at the World Court? Is compromise possible? Sri Lanka’s situation is unique for four reasons.

(1) Sri Lanka is the first country on earth to go from a single country to ‘Federal’ country.

(2) Sri Lanka’s physical geography and the Eelam boundary do not match at all.

(3) There is an Indian Tamil population in the upstream river catchment areas in the central mountain regions where a Malayanadu movement is in dormant.

(4) Eelam” is a world Tamil dream and not just a Sri Lanka Tamil or Tamilnad Tamil dream.

The Eelam boundary (red lines on maps) on the Tamil Eealm map (www.tamilcanadian.com) is an attempt to legislate against geography and therefore, even if the two partners to the marriage have new saintly qualities and decided to erase from their mind previous murderous divorce battles, water wars would become inevitable. The panacea presented by the death merchants of the Indian federal formula would not help due to reasons of:

  1. Political Geography:

Sri Lanka will be the only island state divided to create a federal marriage. In all the other Federal marriages (USA, India, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland) it was parties already divided who became united under one roof by ‘Federal’ arrangement.

Whether, the Federal Sri Lanka will have two partners, eight partners or the Eastern Province will have separate Sinhala or Muslim (Oluvil declaration) units will further complicate water allocation issues.


  1. Physical Geography:

Sri Lanka is a pear-shaped island with a central mountain mass surrounded by a hilly landscape region and coastal plains. Because of this physical geography rivers are short and radiate from the central lands. The only river that could be called a river system is the Mahaweli Ganga”.

  1. Cultural Geography:

With an Indian Tamil population living in the central mountain region where the upstream water catchment areas are located, any agitation or collaboration between Northern Tamils, Tamilnad Tamils or World Tamils and the Indian Tamils (Malayanadu) could disrupt water supply especially to the Mahaweli Ganga Scheme by blocking the headwaters during drought.

  1. Climatology:

The island has a weather and climate based on the seasonal Monsoon winds. South-West Monsoons come with a heavy moisture content dropping it on a smaller area.

North-East Monsoons on the other hand come from the Bay of Bengal” with less moisture and spreads over a vast area. This creates two basic water regiments for the Wet Zone and the Dry Zone. Yet, even the Wet Zone is not free of droughts.

With one of the island’s Arid Zones in the Eelam” area (Mannar region), the demand for more water for that region could become an issue in the future.

  1. Geology:

The availability of groundwater resources is influenced by geological history and the demand for surface water is affected by this factor. For example, since Jaffna is a limestone (Karst) region, plans to convert the Jaffna lagoon into a fresh water lake could demand diversion of more water from the Mahaweli Scheme to the Kanakarayan Aru (K on Map 2).

  1. Historical Geography:

Eealm boundary is based on two Provincial boundaries arbitrarily created by the colonial ruler for administrative control. The continuation of these boundaries will become more problematic when two fighting sides become F marriage partners. The two nation theory was a colonial relic applied only in two previous occasions: India and Pakistan and Israel and Palestine. Under the traditional Tamil homelands myth North and East Provinces were temporarily merged with a sinister move to apply the two nation theory to Sri Lanka.

It was not based on geography or democracy but forced on a bankrupt President by a car racing Premier. Since it is a myth hostilities will always remain if it is forced on the Sinhala majority community.

  1. Geopolitics:

Tamil minority community in Sri Lanka enjoys more rights and privileges in Sri Lanka than what Tamils enjoy in Tamilnad, India. But the Tamil dream is to have its own sovereign country (see World Tamil Confederation website) on earth. They failed in the Fiji Island and have no chance in Malaysia or even in India and the best target is Sri Lanka.

With this aim, under a federal marriage scheme water conflicts could be used to harass and weaken the Sinhala majority in Sri Lanka.

  1. Tamilnadu Politics:

Despite proscription of separatist politics in India after the invasion of India by China in 1962, the dream of a separate Tamil country in India is not dead. Tamilnadu politicians act as tamed-moderate leaders due to survival pressure from Delhi and the political rivals waiting for a come-back (Rival Tamilnadu chief ministers send each other to jail).The description that Sri Lanka has a majority-minority complex is real.

With 70 million Tamils at next door and websites and politicians supporting a Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka where can the 10 million Sinhalese go? Water wars are an effective method to keep the pot boiling.

  1. Corrupt Colombo Politicians:

Sinhala-Tamil ethnic issue was a creation of about 200 or so Colombo ruling families. During the past 60 years or so they mismanaged the country, converted the English versus Swabasha issue in to a Sinhala-Tamil language conflict, increased the gap between Colombo and the villages and widened the gap between rich living in Colombo, and the poor in the villages.

For the past 20 years they conspired with foreign agents (Liam-Fox agreement?) to divide the country into two so that these families could continue to rule the southern portion from Colombo. These Colombo black whites who accept that they are avalangu kaasis” will use future water disputes as beggar’s wounds to keep common people in bondage. The long boundary line between ‘Federal’ partners will give room for plenty of mini water wars.

The Solution:


The two maps are not aimed at creating fear against devolution. Devolution is different from the merchandize called Indian federal formula of NGO and INGO agents. Real, as opposed to fake devolution from the concentration of power in the Colombo crowd of politicians (and officers) is what people are waiting for. The political and economic power must be decentralized and given to the people. The PC system and the new election law did not create devolution.

It created a new layer of corrupt politicians. After 1980 Colombo rulers destroyed the VC, TC, UC-based local government system. Rather than fostering a healthy local government system, each UNP and SLFP local govt. minister abused his powers and weakened local democracy and self-governance. The Abhayewardhana Report on Local Government Reforms (1999) provided in detail why the country needed to go back to the pre-1980 system to overcome the mess we are now in, especially the white elephant called PCs.

  1. T. Ariyaratne of Sarvodaya proposed a system of national governance structure based on local building blocks in 1988 in his booklet, The Power Pyramid and the Dharmic Cycle.” From time to time Arjuna Hulugalle presents his CIMOGG proposal of devolution at the district level with a base which is similar to the Sarvodaya proposal (Island, July 31, 2006). Actually all these are so similar to what was presented by president of Pakistan Ayub Khan on October 26, 1959 as Pakistan’s new constitution. Under it the whole country was divided into very small constituencies of between 800 and 1000 people.

This novel type of constituency was called the basic democracy.” There were 80,000 such elected units as the first tier of the constitutional structure (Pakistan: old country/new nation by Ian Stephens (1964, page 315).

The geographer Madduma Bandara proposed a river basin-based Provincial Division of seven units in 1987 (Chapter 4 in Fifty years of Sri Lanka’s Independence: a socio economic review, edited by A.V. de S. Indraratna (1998, p.83). Actually this is the best scientific approach for a united” Sri Lanka (unitary) where the term united really means unity. The AGA divisions and even the Grama Sevaka divisions should ideally be based on River-Oya-Ela basins. This way we will not have a mind-boggling number of 14,000 GS divisions in the island.

The Scotssman Paul Harris recently identified the Muslim factor as a future problem for Sri Lanka. He says that the al Qaeda-Taliban groups will sooner or later become actively involved in helping the Muslims in the Eastern Province to meet Tamil Terror with Islam terror. The geographer G. H. Peiris in his new book, Sri Lanka: challenges of the new millennium (2006?), speaks of the growing unrest in the upcountry area among the school going Indian Tamil youth.

Rather than a monster of a merged North-East Provinces, Sri Lanka’s home grown solution must be a District-level devolution where elected members of the local government units in a district creates the DC with super powers given them to operate as an almost autonomous administrative units. Such DCs should be allowed to merge for resource use purposes.

Thus Tamils can have ten or more DCs where they can achieve their aspirations. For example, in their DCs they can decide not to declare Vesak as a public holiday which Prabakaran’s younger brother (cousin?) told this writer when they were students in Canada in 1979.

Since the early 1960s Sri Lanka faced a gradual erosion of its structural democracy (i.e., abolition of the Senate, violation of the separation of powers doctrine, disregard for the rule of law and even lying at the question time in the parliament, appointing politicians as SC judges). Since 1978, in addition to structural erosion there was a death of territorial democracy of the worst possible type. The new electoral laws removed the voter from the elected and prevented honest, educated and dedicated local people contesting elections.

We ended up with a parliament which is a disgrace to representative democracy in the world. While people were denied the right to select what they like, they have been forced to select from the list the party leaders decide from Colombo after job interviews.” Then the number of Grama Sevakas” increased from 4,000 to 14,000 in the 1990s. Politicians use them to spy on people and not to serve people.

It is crucial that the territorial democracy restored as soon as possible and the structural democracy revived by abolishing the 1978 bahubootha viyavastava.” The Eelam map is the wrong way to handle this overhauling as it is an attempt to cure a cancer by feeding it. The Vadi Bana preached by NGO peace activists such as the Christian-born Jehan Perera will have no use (Divaina, August 7, 2006).

(The writer taught water resources geography and political geography at Kent State University, Ohio, USA)

6 Responses to “Political children”

  1. Christie Says:

    The problem Ceylon has is the same faced by locals of other Indian colonies, be it land, water or business. The Indian colonial parasites are privileged and powerful.

  2. Hiranthe Says:

    Thank you for the fact full article. Now the question is who will propose and implement this home grown solution with District-level devolution? The present Yahap gang is all out to destroy SL for their personal gains.

    The best opportunity we had when MR was ruling was lost as he did not want to upset India by doing it, or due to another threat which we do not know. This Yahap team will not leave it for people to decide knowing it will get rejected.

    So.. what is the solution to protect Mother Lanka…?

  3. aloy Says:

    C Wije,

    For any country to survive it should have food security. Either you should have enough money to buy it from outside of produce it your self. That is how our country survived this far. However there had been a population boom during second world war period and we have survived mainly on food imported from outside by the British. Our first PM, DS foresaw the problem coming (like many other problems he saw coming) and may have decided for Galoya spending a colossal amount of money. It was said that the amount spent in Rupees was more than needed to cover the entire area of the scheme in Rupee notes. I am sure this may have helped to alleviate the rice shortages a bit. I am sure you would have known the ‘hal polu yugaya’ (rice barriers) during Mrs. B’s time. I myself had to hide rice parcels under the car seats when bring it to my place of residence in Gampaha area fro Kegalle. However when JR came to power he wanted to change this situation and asked for help fro western countries. When he attended the common wealth conference in South Africa it was Mrs. Thatcher who passed a small peace of paper promising the loan to start the project. The rest is history. Thanks this effort today our people do not go hungry.
    Look at what is happening in Venezuella. The people in their country is in dire straights. They are without food. An hour ago I was watching a BBC documentary where they showed the once oil rich wealthy country has allowed its entire population to go hungry. It had been ruled by trade unionists for two decades and they have not invested in food production and have been consuming food bought with oil money. I am happy that we are in our current situation despite VAT and all that. Even if there is no money from foreign employment people will not starve.
    So, please do not criticize any effort to produce more food whether it is by this government or that and whatever the cost.

  4. cwije Says:


    Did you know that rice can be grown in Alaska?

    My attempt was to show that any govt project must be done after careful planning. Billions wasted by unwise work cannot be justified by your reason of more food. I do not think food self-sufficiency or even exporting food is opposed by anybody. Where did you find I opposed that idea?

    Mahaveli should have been done as smaller projects following the ancient irrigation ruins. Port City is an environmental disaster. It was rarely, that the State was successful in doing something good for the people. That is a universal truth. Think of the monster DiviNaguma dept? Is it serving people or is it employment for political catchers?


  5. aloy Says:


    “My attempt was to show that any govt project must be done after careful planning”

    I agree with you 100%. Sorry about my comment above that you are opposing investment on food production. What I meant was that food production is the most important thing for any country to survive and that we should not split hair over economics on such a matter. $ 1 billion today will be like $ 100 million in ten years and it will not be very difficult to pay that at that time. So are all other projects. We cannot comment on Port city project as many things are involved in it, not only the economic. Perhaps it has an enormous strategic value. Just imagine even in the Democratic Party Convention in US people are talking about Sri Lanka of 1960. Our place must be terribly important. That is why people like RW who does not have a broader view of the politics of the world should not take decisions on future of our country. He should not be allowed to do that.
    Take the case of Plywood Factory Dudley attempted to build at Salawa (where the explosions happened). That factory was to make plywood from timber at Sinharaja forest. They say if that factory was completed Sinharaja would have been wiped off in a couple of months. Even the people where I live were talking about it and taking it as a classic case of bad planning. This is the reason why we should not allow politicians to do things in their own way in major projects. However food production is different. It is an absolute necessity for survival. We see politicos only planning for easy money now.

  6. S.Gonsal Says:

    To be fair, I think MR did a lot to produce our own food. It was during his time we became self sufficient in food. UNP government is against food production and di a lot of harm since came to power. Why ?
    Mahaveli water was not sufficient to grow paddy near the last sections of Right Bank Canal. But farmers changed to less water needing crops.
    Moragaha Kanda is probably an order given from Indians. MR tried to delay it. It is to give water to Tamil areas through NCP Canal.

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