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Illegal settlers in Nuwarawewa tank reservation contaminate water

A demolished illegal construction near Nuwarawewa. Picture by Nimal Wijesinghe

Anuradhapura people in grave dange

The Nuwarawewa reservoir, the main drinking water source for Anuradhapura, is in a devastating state due to illegal squatters at the tank reservation.Illegal constructions including hotels were put up in the area affecting surrounding of the tank.

Anuradhapura Divisional Irrigation Engineer P.U.K. Tilakaratne said the illegal settlers must be removed and their construction have to be demolished to protect the environment and the people in the area.

The farmer organisations have complained to the Anuradhapura Government Agent and the District Agriculture Committee that evacuating takes a very long duration. They said zonal irrigation authorities had no power to take legal action against the illegal settlers.

The land and legal section of the Irrigation Director General that handles the lawsuits against the squatters has no power to carry out preventive measures efficiently, he said.. Nuwarawewa, Tissa Wewa, Abhayawewa, Mahawilachchiya and Mahakanadarawa come under the Anuradhapura Irrigation Division. A recent survey found 2,933 squatters in Nuwarawewa and 161 in the Tissa Wewa tank reservations. Abayawewa tank reservation has 44 and the Mahakanadarawa 20. The Mahawilachchiya tank reservation has 57.

"Three cases against the offenders in the Nuwarawewa reservation were decided against them and we have already demolished one house and two more have to be evacuated. We have to continue the process through the land and legal section at irrigation head office and not at the zonal level, Tilakaratne said. The Engineer said several sewerage systems were opened to the Nuwarawewa and the toilets near the tank contaminated the water. He said some illegal settlers even have land permits. Three Jayaboomi land grants holders dwell in the Nuwarawewa reservation, he said.