Revisiting Kotmale Five Decades Later
Posted on September 2nd, 2016

By Garvin Karunaratne Former Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services at Nuwara Eliya Government Agent, Matara


Kotmale, a Valley of great beauty and charm,

where our celebrated poet Wimlaratne Kumaragama once lived,

The hallowed residence where he penned verse after verse

When he was DeeArrOoo is no more.

The waters of the Kotmale River took it all.

All when the Kotmale Dam was built.


Fifty one years ago, working at Nuwara Eliya

My weekly circuits to Kotmale, to settle paddy land disputes

I did amicably settled them then.

But all to no purpose.

The waters of the Kotmale River took it all

All when the Kotmale Dam was built


I recall the Kotmale Valley

Teeming, vibrant with Sinhala lads and lassies-

A bold peasantry

Transplanting paddy, growing cardamoms

Home gardens thriving with spice and produce

All  Gone- now we import what we then produced.

We now call it trade and development” and acclaim it as great!

A Valley that thrived with the smiles and laughs of a simple people,

flowing with innocence from their hearts

Now, no more.

The waters of the Kotmale River took it all

All when the Kotmale Dam was built.


A vibrant Sinhala community shattered at its roots

Scattered to the Vanni and other areas- far and wide

Their land grabbed to provide hydro power

To light the lamps of the rich- the State called it development”

Their habitats flooded, soaked with their tears

The waters of the Kotmale Oya took it all

All when the Kotmale Dam was built


I relive meeting- associating them again and again

Faces Laden with gleaming smiles

Those whom I met incessantly at schools, at  the DeeArrOoo office

Then, I revelled in serving them with mirth and pleasure

Sad, I cannot trace any of them now.

Wasn’t my endeavor a waste of time?

The waters of the Kotmale River took it all

All when the Kotmale Dam was built


As I visited the Kotmale Dam this August Day gone

I was sad.

The Valley was desolate, drab and bare.

Everything in sight was lifeless, bone dead.

Tears swelled in my eyes.

A Valley that was once vibrant with life, farmers ploughing,

Children upto tricks, fun and frolics winding their way  to school,

Peasants carrying produce to market, cows and buffaloes grazing on verdant verges,

All taken away by development”

A Valley teeming with Sinhala folk

Ethnically Cleansed for good.

The waters of the Kotmale Valley took it all

All when  the Kotmale Dam was built..


Garvin Karunaratne

Former Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services at Nuwara Eliya

Government Agent, Matara

2 nd Sept.  2016

2 Responses to “Revisiting Kotmale Five Decades Later”

  1. aloy Says:

    Nice to read, but lets get the facts.
    What is the total area of Kotmale valley and how much has gone under water?. This dam is storing water that used to flow to sea and releasing for irrigation along the way up to NCP while producing much needed cheap electricity for the people of SL. The development brought about by this project may be immense when compared to the few patches paddy land and others lost. Only thing the Sinhala people who lost lands should have been compensated and resettled elsewhere without allowing another ethnic group to dominate the area.
    How much we would have spent on coal if this wasn’t there?.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Re Renewable Energy supply :

    In the future, GoSL can use Solar, Wind & Wave energy in Sri Lanka.
    Copy Germany for Solar energy. Even the roadsides have Solar cells and a guaranteed price is given by the German govt. for 20 yrs for clean and renewable Solar energy.

    Re Water Supply :

    Can’t canals be cut to divert river waters to other areas, without dams being built ?

    Thriving villages need not be hampered and displaced in the future for energy creation.

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