By Hiran P Jayasinghe
Farmers of Angunawila in Mundel are reported to be undergoing hardship in obtaining water for their fields, as the access road to the sluice gate of the Akkaravelliya wewa has been closed with a barbwire fence, reportedly by a politico.
The wewa is over a century old and spans a twenty acre area. It also overlooks a 35-acre paddy field claimed by about 20 farmers.
The farmers own the land through title coming down the generations but lately they were not happy with the conditions here due mainly to the actions of the politico who owns land adjacent to this area.
The PC member of Arachchikattuwa claims to own the wewa including the reservation area to the south. He is said to have reprimanded some media men who visited the place on representations made by the farmers. He had reportedly challenged the journalists to do what even the GA could not do, thus showing his power.
He is reported to be behaving in a high-handed manner roaming about the area on his motor cycle which has no registration number. The farmers have written, way back in 2006, to the Mundel Divisional Secretary regarding the matter.
Accordingly the Divisional Secretary has referred the matter to the Land Commissioner’s office on October 11, 2006 asking for a report on the closure of the access road to the wewa by one S I M Yoonoos. The farmer community had also made the Divisional Secretary aware of the issue by its letter of September 25, 2006 asking for redress.
As no response was forthcoming they had written again on January 25, 2007 to the Government Agent who had informed the Divisional Secretary on February 7, to open the access road. They had also brought the issue to the notice of other politicians in addition to State officials but yet there is no settlement in sight, they said.
The local farmers’ association president S. T. M. Marikkar said that there was no problem at the start when the 10,000 tanks project was initiated in 2006 and the rehabilitation of the Akkaravelliya wewa costing Rs. 585,000 was completed. The problem cropped up when the barbwire fence came up, he said.
Three other farmers also spoke their mind on the issue and objected to the closure of the access road. by the politico.