Kelani Ganga Development scheme for flood control and to utilize the water potential for power generation and irrigation
Posted on February 25th, 2023

Mr. Rama Somasunderam retired State Secretary of the Ministry of Transport (1990) and retired Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Mahaweli (SLAS).   

The Kelini Ganga is one of the main rivers of Sri Lanka. It has its source in the Central Hills near Adam’s Speak and follows through the South Western Part of the country and falls into the sea at Colombo. Due to the heavy rain fall the average yield of 486 million acre feet makes it the second largest water resource within Sri Lanka. The total basin is about 56 miles in length and 28 miles in width.  

The emphasis on the river has been to control floods. The present development of the river is to control floods. This will involve diversion channels which flow into the sea and to clear obstacles to the river flow.

 In 1961 a team from Russia prepared a report both for flood control and to utilize the water potential for flood protection, development of power and irrigation. The report was done by Technopromaexports of Russia.  Their report has four components: 

  1. Two reservoirs across two upper tributaries of the river.
  2. Hydropower Generation of 33 M. W.
  3. Diversion Cannel to irrigate 146, 500 acres of new land.
  4. Construction of an embankment along the banks of the river in the lower reaches.

The diversion cannel will be of 50 miles in length. It will carry the water to the dry zone areas of the North Western Province with the potential to develop 146, 500 acres of new land. There will be nine pumping stations which will provide lift irrigation for about 80,000 acres of paddy cultivation.

Apart from the Russians the Americans did a study in the l ate 1940s. This was by the International Engineering Company situated at San Francisco in the USA.

In 1952 there was a study by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This aimed at resettlement of flood victims to higher areas.

I will recommend that aid be got to update the studies and thereafter call for tenders. It is suggested that Chinese aid be got along with other countries like India and the USA. In India Wapcos are the best.

Kind regards, Rama.                          

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