Mavilaru anicut: Spills blood for water
The Mavilaru anicut – the flash point which
triggered the recent spate of hostilities between the Government
and the LTTE – was little known till the LTTE decided to close
its sluice gate and thus block water flowing to the Seruwila area.
|The Mavilaru waterway which supplies water
to villagers and to the village crops.
The anicut was built in the 1960s by building
a dam across two waterways namely the Verugal Aru and the Mavilaru
which are tributaries of the Mahaweli River which flows to the sea
at Koddiyar Bay in the Muttur area. The anicut has been the main
source of water for the Muttur, Seruwila and Ichchalampattu district
|The now well-known anicut. Pix by Amaradoru
The anicut which is situated in an “uncleared
area” was closed by the LTTE on July 21 depriving water to
more than 20,000 villagers.
The LTTE said the anicut was shut because the
Government had failed to give the green light for an ADB project
to supply dinking water to the people living in LTTE-controlled
areas and seeking a lifting of the embargo on essential goods to
A senior irrigation officer in Trincomalee said
prior to the recent incidents, things had been uneventful in the
area and it was only the labourers who visited the anicut for the
purpose of operating it.
He said the water from the anicut was meant to
irrigate an extent of 17,413 acres of paddy land.
However due to the problems in recent months,
the full extent of land was not cultivated for this season and it
was reported that only a little more than 8000 acres were cultivated.
The engineer said the gates of the anicut were
only closed when there was heavy rain and threats of flooding.
It was on July 20 the LTTE closed the Mavil Aru
sluice gate, denying water to more than 15,000 families and thousands
of acres of paddy land.
The villages affected by the closure are Kallar,
Dehiwaththa, Thoppur, Seruvila, Serunuwara, Neelapola, Medagama,
Sirimangalapura, Pallikudirippu, Kiliveddy, Kanguweli, Maingama,
Thanganagar and Bharathipuram and those living there comprised a
multi racial community made up of Muslims, Sinhalese, Tamils. The
Mavilaru is the source of drinking water for these villagers as
It was in 1994 that the government decided to withdraw the army
from the area and with it the people of the area lost control over
the water supplies to their region.
Seruwila Raja Maha Viharaya chief incumbent Venerable
Saranatissa Thera living in one of the most affected areas said
when the crisis began, he had tried to contact the LTTE political
wing leader S. Elilan to resolve it amicably.
The Thera, the government representative on the
local monitoring committee (LMC) of the SLMM for the Trincomalee
District, requested the Engineers of the Irrigation Department to
open the Mavil Aru sluice-gate but the engineers were prevented
from going there by the LTTE.
“I left my home number with their cadres
but until today I have had no response,” the monk told The
“This canal is the life line of the people
of this area and we need the water urgently,” the Thera said.
An SLMM monitor and an irrigation engineer too
tried to reach the area two days later but could not make it due
to the LTTE presence there.
Things have become worse because the LTTE actions
come in the middle of a drought that is prevailing in these areas.