Mannar’s famous ‘Rice Bowl’ region, which earlier used to provide bumper rice stocks to the country, is fast returning to its past glory with active support, being extended by the Army for re-cultivation of the entire stretch of paddy fields.
Chief Resident Engineer’s Office and Murukkan Irrigation Department which reportedly allocate government funds annually to area-based farming organizations for restoration of the 13 km - long D/7 main canal, have found that although grants, exceeding Rs 4.5 million, have been given to those organizations, hardly anything by way of repairs or restoration has been done, worth those grants because of wastage and absence of commitment to the project by those contractors.
However, these state agencies this year requested Wanni Commander and General Officer Commanding, 54 Division in Mannar to take up this challenge and begin repairs and restoration of the D/7 canal this year since completion of the repairs could provide ample water for paddy, fresh water fish breeding, additional crops and cultivation of seasonal fruits in the area.
These state agencies further agreed to allocate the annual grant to the Army, expecting the troops to do a high standard proper job in fairness to more than 10,000 families and 6,000 plus acreage, cultivable once this canal has been restored.
On Friday (18), hundreds of Army troops, headed by Brigadier M.A.M Dias after a brief ceremony commenced restoration work to be continued with engineering expertise and consultations of the state agencies and veteran farmers in the area.
Representatives of farming communities and different associations, Mr Thilakaratne Bandara, Additional Director, Department of Irrigation, Mr Anura Nelugolla, Chief Engineer, Department of Irrigation in Mannar, Irrigation Engineers Mr. Krishna Ruban and Mr Palitha Wickramathilake, Villagers and civilians attended the inaugural ceremony.
Troops of the 542 Brigade are to provide their labour for the restoration project.