28 November, 2020

Blog

NPC Passes Unanimous Resolution Against Its Agriculture Minister – A Summary & Remarks

By Rajasingham Narendran

Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

The Uthayan newsper reported yesterday (09/02/2016) that a unanimous resolution has been passed in the Northern Provincial Council against its Agriculture Minister Ayngaranesan, at its monthly meeting.

The reasons given are in summary :

His actions relating to the,

  1. Irranaimadu water supply scheme.
  2. Parthenium weed eradication program.
  3. Pallai wind power generation scheme.
  4. Well water problems in Chunnakam.
  5. The scheme to desalinate sea water in Maruthankerni.
  6. The tree planting scheme of Karthikai (November-December).
  7. Distribution of disaster relief.
  8. Farmers day (Thaipongal).
  9. Flower Exhibition.
  10. Agriculture day.
  11. Soil day and,
  12. No action being taken to prevent the excess water from Irranaimadu tank running off into the sea at Maruthankerni.
  13. No action being taken to direct the run off water into the Jaffna lagoon system.
  14. Not keeping the PC members informed of his activities.
  15. Not informing the assembly members the cost of these events.
  16. Not remedying the problems in the co-operative sector.
  17. Not taking forward the programs of the agriculture ministry.
  18. Refusing to participate in the small tank reconstruction project proposed by the central government.
  19. Neglect of the Vavuniya district by the Agriculture ministry.
  20. Not paying heed to the complaints of the fisherman in Maruthangkerni.

Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran was requested to conduct an inquiry on the conduct of the agriculture minister.

C.V. WigneswaranThe resolution was proposed by Provicial Councellor G.T. Linganathan. Several members complained against the conduct of the agriculture minister.

The minister reied that the accusations are baseless and acused the Chairman of not knowing how to conduct the affairs of the assembly.

The accusations are wide ranging and point to serious problems in the affairs of a very important provincial ministry. Several of these problems have been highlighted in the past, but were largely ignored. It is a pleasure to see that the NPC has started , rather belatedly of course, paying attention to its manifold internal failures. Better late than never!

Among the issues raised by the Provincial Councilors are the issues relating to water, fisheries and agriculture. The ‘Jaffna River’ river project has to taken forwards to enable converting the laggon system in the peninsula into fresh water lakes. The Americans made the Missouri- Mississipi River flow in reverse, when there was a need to do so! As pointed out by Eng. O.E.D. Medis only a three KM canal needs to be cut to enable the fresh water accumulated in the Elephant Pass reservoir, to flow in to the Jaffna lagoon system. I am convinced this can be done using volunteers. Every Jaffna man and this country has a stake in making this dream come true. Further, at least the overflow water from the Irranaimadu tank should be made to flow into Elephant Pass reservoir, until the Mahaweli system is connected to the Irranaimadu tank. The quality of well water in the Peninsula will improve as a result and 11,000 acres of addition land will become available for agriculture. Inland fisheries and tourism potential of of these lagoons can be exploited creating productive employment.

The small tanks within the peninsula should also be de-silted, deepened and even enlarged. This will harvest precious rain water efficiently and will work in tandem with the Jaffna River, to recharge the aquifers.

Desalination of sea water to produce potable water has created problems in the Middle-East and California, as the aquatic environment – increase in salt content- changes and damages fish breeding areas. The concerns of the fisherman are legitimate.

The Chunnakam well water contamination issue has to be investigated in depth and remedies sought. This issue has been to my knowledge pussy-footed by Minister Ayngaranesan.

The other issue of concern to the farmers in the north is marketing their products at reasonable prices. Agriculture is a big gamble now and the farmers most times lose their shirt. The co-operative system has to be invigorated to pay a fair price, collect produce, market them and/or establish secondary industries to add value.

Extension services to farmers have collapsed under the Provincial Council system. Fertilizer, Weedicide and Pesticide peddlers from big companies have by default become the best friends of the farmers, in the absence of efficient extension services. There is excessive use of chemicals in agriculture now and this has resulted in soil and water contamination. Even fruits, are sprayed with chemicals to ripen them faster. The Grapes produced in Jaffna are a danger to consumers! The Provincial Ministry of Agriculture has done little to address these problems.

Alternate crops like Dragon Fruit and even dates have not been introduced by this Ministry, although farmers on their own have started small projects. There is a farm along the A9 in Iyakachchi that uis growing an acre two of dragon fruit now- a plant that requires very little water and bears fruits for at least 30 years! The few Dragon Fruit trees I planted two years back, have borne fruit last year. I have also around 80 date palm seedlings growing fairly well in Jaffna. There is absolute lethargy in the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture. It has lost its verve and creative ability.

The Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni in the North can be the agricultural (including Animal Husbandry) capital of this island, if the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture puts its boots and overalls on, rolls its sleeves and gets to work.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    Tamil Engineers who left Sri Lanka during the War, it is now time to come back and offer your expertise to the Jaffna peninsula and the North!

    • 5
      5

      Hamlet

      “Tamil Engineers who left Sri Lanka during the War, it is now time to come back and offer your expertise to the Jaffna peninsula and the North!”

      Come on

      The Sinhala Engineers famous for building Sinhala/Aryan Hydraulic Civilisation for the past 2500 years.

      Why don’t you invite them to build another phase of their Sinhala Aryan Hydraulic Civilisation in the North East?

      Are you worried they will have to hire consultants from UK, USA or Canada?

      • 2
        0

        Native Veddah:-

        “The Sinhala Engineers famous for building Sinhala/Aryan Hydraulic Civilisation for the past 2500 years.”

        “Why don’t you invite them to build another phase of their Sinhala Aryan Hydraulic Civilisation in the North East?”

        Native Veddah, I believe Sinhala Engineers have been doing it too in the South. But I am not qualified enough to give details. Will one of them please oblige?

    • 8
      1

      Standing Committee of Tamil speaking people (SCOT) a UK based charity supporting humanitarian work in Srilanka financially since 1977, of which I am the current President, has now embarked on an ambitious program of small holder farmer support in the Vanni, to enhance their profit from their farms and raise their quality of life. Initially SCOT has funded this project, but now we are looking out for partners and any organisation interested in joining may contact us. If this works well, we hope to take it to farmers in the east as well.

      It was pioneered by two members of SCOT council, Mr. Paramanathan a civil engineer and Dr. Sooriyamoorthy a veterinary surgeon with the support of Mr. Kandiah of USA, a former FAO agriculture expert and Dr. Ramesh of Hydrology Institute UK, who initially set up a demonstration farm in Kanagarayankulam emulating the precision farming model for cultivation of high value crops developed by Coimbatore Agriculture University to reduce cost, increase yield and enhance profits.

      Services of Prof. Navaratnarajah former dean of Jaffna agriculture faculty was obtained, who helped SCOT to get a five acre plot in Vanni within Sevalanka land due to security concerns, and subsequently was entrusted to co-ordinate the project. Field assesment was done by SCOT and International Sustainable Livelihood Foundation of USA. The Drip irrigation system was designed and installed by Jinasena Ltd. This method was compatible with agro-climatology and soil status prevailing in north and east, and had taken off with successful results.

      Now we have launched the next phase, with the selection of 10 farmers, two per district in north. Each farmer will cultivate one acre of his own land in two stages using his own resources. Drip irrigation system was imported from Tamilnadu and installed in each of their farms, funded by SCOT. They were given to them on a lease agreement and were given traininig to operate it. It also gives employment to women in the area to carry out seeding and harvesting. Local institutions like Jaffna university agriculture faculty, agriculture research center and agriculture extension office have shown interest to associate with it.

      • 4
        1

        Dr.Sundaralingam,

        Glad to hear of the initiative. Most of the individuals you have listed are known to me. There should be more such initiatives. Good luck.

        Dr.RN

        • 3
          1

          Dear Narendran,
          You have got my name wrong. There are some more such projects by UK professionals in the North and east of Srilanka. Once the agriculture project is established, SCOT hopes to diversify into livestock venture mainly poultry, once again using Tamil nadu technology to increase egg production. Since you are a veterinary surgeon and seem to know our people on the field, you could engage yourself usefully to share your expertise, without wasting time in going after Wigneswaran and NPC activities.

          1. “Water for Vanni” – This ambitious project to install wells for providing water for drinking and irrigation purposes was pioneered Dr. Dan Muthuvaloe a doctor and Mr. Bala Ganaprakasam an engineer, under the auspicies of “Orupanai” a UK registered charity, and is progressing well. This is funded by “Orupanai” with support from some international agencies.

          2. Heath upgrade, a programme initiated by Medical Institute of Tamils (MIOT), to organise and run some health institutions in North and east. In this scheme, Moolai co-operative hospital is to be upgraded into a first class private hospital with all facilities and Green Memorial hospital is to be upgraded into a teaching institution attached to a private medical school, which will have lecturers from abroad working on voluntary basis in rotation. It is also proposed to run various primary health care centres and old age homes in north and east. All these will be mainly funded by MIOT, which is in this field since 1988.

          • 3
            0

            Dr. Narendran, Dr. Sankaralingam,

            Tamil professionals on the eastern coast of the US are supporting water projects via the registered charity, Manithaneyam Trust. On the Chunnakam water issue, while bureaucrats and ordinary people continue arguments over solutions, some are suggesting that the old way of using tanks/kulams to save rain water for consumption, be resurrected by repairing and purifying those tanks. Working with one Swami Thondunathar, they have identified a tank in Udayarkattu(?) for this project and the professionals here are contributing funds for that project.

            I don’t know the current ground realities there. So any thoughts on how feasible and useful the project will be? I can pass on your input to the concerned project leads.

            By the way, you may recall that several times I explicitly called for an NPC cabinet reshuffle with Ayngaranesan moved out of his current portfolio. I am glad there is some movement on that issue.

            • 4
              0

              Agnos,

              Thanks for the information. The Ootru Organization in Jaffna had begun to desilt and deepen the kulams/ponds in Jaffna in the 1970s with the same objective. The bund of the Udayarkattu tank in Mullaitivu was deliberately breached by the LTTE as part of its strategy towards the end of the last war and the government repaired the tank, soon after the war ended. There was a well laid out large farm, established by the Swedes and later taken over by the LTTE ( Kuttiyan Farm) close to the Udayarkattu tank. It is now managed by the army. I had located 300 acres of land in this area and submitted a project proposal to establish a farm complex with secondary industries there. Commitments for a million dollar investment from the ME were canvassed. Unfortunely, after almost two years of efforts, the then government was agreeable to give only 50 acres on lease. The project was not feasible with that extent of land and I did not pursue the project further. I am glad some individuals are improving that the Uddayarkattu tank further.

              Please read the two links, one to an extensive study on the water problem in Jaffna by the irrigation department and solutions to resolve it in a revolutionary manner, and the second on how it has has been sabotaged at the final stages of implementation, in a comment below.

              Dr.RN

              • 2
                0

                Dr. RN,

                Thanks for your info. I checked with the group because the pond in question is not in the Vanni but near Chunnakam. It seems it is Kadduvan, not Udayarkattu.
                I hear the local people are enthusiastic about the project.
                I will get reports of any progress and we will see.

            • 1
              0

              Agnos,

              “By the way, you may recall that several times I explicitly called for an NPC cabinet reshuffle with Ayngaranesan moved out of his current portfolio.”

              After reading the summary of Dr RN I agree with you. I did not know how much Ayngaranesan has “achieved” during his time as a minister.

              “I am glad there is some movement on that issue.”

              So am I.

              I have read that two provincial ministers support the CM. Maybe Ayngaranesan is one of them?

          • 2
            0

            Dr. Sankaralingam,

            Sorry for the error. Apologies.

            Dr.RN

          • 1
            1

            Dr GS:
            I would also advise against the Opening of Luxury Hotels for Visitors, in the North, till the Infrastructure for the Real Inhabitants is put in Place.

            I was appalled on a recent visit to find there were no Signs Visible, about Conserving Water, in these Hotels.

            Visitors expected their Sheets and Towels to be changed daily!! Really, in an area where Water has to be transported by Bowser!

            • 0
              0

              Hamlet,

              “in an area where Water has to be transported by Bowser!”

              Browsers are usually for bringing drinking water but I don’t claim to know all areas.

      • 1
        0

        Dr Gnana,

        “Local institutions like Jaffna university agriculture faculty, agriculture research center and agriculture extension office have shown interest to associate with it.”

        There is nothing wrong with the valuable diaspora efforts you describe. What is wrong is that the local institutions that should have taken the initiative appear to only(?) show interest when outsiders achieve something. In my opinion the local institutions should be leading not following. What are the local experts paid for?

  • 10
    4

    Dr Narendran

    ‘Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has been requested to conduct an inquiry on the conduct of the agriculture minister’ – will he conduct one?

    The CM is seriously violating his own employment contract stated in the 13th amendment and doing all kinds of work without discharging his duties. Just imagine the fate of a non performing Company employee? CM is shamelessly drawing his salary from the NPC for his services but he is gallivanting on all kinds of issues that are outside his employment contract. As a judge, he is unable to understand his criminal violation of his employment contract.

    In fact, the CM was the Chief Guest for the planting of trees on both side of the lagoon on the A9 road. This is an initiative of Iynkaranesan. 40% of the treas are lifeless. They should have included this as well in the NCM.

    I have no faith in the NPC and the CM. Do not expect a bit even from them.

  • 5
    9

    It looks the author is not an Engineer and he seems to have no idea whatsoever about hydrology or water related issue! He must be a MBBS doctor or holder of PhD on some biology related subject.

    • 10
      3

      K. Arulananthan

      Dr Rajasingham Narendran is a Veterinarian and a PhD holder.

    • 3
      7

      The author says desalination has created problems in the Middle East and US. An estimated 20,000 plants operate worldwide. Is it suggested that 120 countries that operate them are living with problems seeing no way to resolve them?

      Middle East shares 54% of global capacity and US 17%. Production globally exceeds 80 billion litres per day. The largest single plant in the world is in Saudi Arabia located in the Persian Gulf. Energy is from solar and capacity is 1 billion LPD. The largest Israeli plant is 627 million LPD using RO process. It is reported that Nano Technology for desalination is only a click away. Scientists say it will be 100 times more energy efficient. So limitless are the possibilities.

      It is not easy for everyone to assimilate these spectacular changes happening so fast. Then they embrace negative sentiments to weep, whine, bleat and yelp. What has happened in the last quarter century through the release of brine concentrate. All countries with massive plants have scientists as well as governments sensitive to social concerns.

      It is important that we become discriminating. May it be known that Jaffna has brackish water and RO process is cheaper than for sea water. Herein lies our future for potable water. Groundwater even if brackish + solar +wind + nano.

      • 7
        2

        Yes, all have created secondary problems. In a poor country like Sri Lanka the operational and maintenance costs of such plants will be high. If these desalination plants are not routinely maintained-back flushing and membrane changes, the quality of the product will gradually decline. The energy costs of such plants are very high. In the middle-east, the gas from oil wells that were once flared are now used to operate these plants. The cost of the desalinated seawater will also be high.

        I provide the link to a summary of problems associated with seawater desalination plants:

        http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/seawater_desalination_fs_feb_2008.pdf

        Dr.RN

        • 1
          0

          Dr RN,

          Thank you for your article.

          “In a poor country like Sri Lanka the operational and maintenance costs of such plants will be high.”

          I agree.

          “If these desalination plants are not routinely maintained-back flushing and membrane changes, the quality of the product will gradually decline. The energy costs of such plants are very high.”

          I doubt that we have foreign currency to buy the membranes, pay for energy and the experts to take care of RO plants.

          RO is ok for drinking water when there is no alternative. In Jaffna there are alternatives and RO would not solve the need for water for agriculture.

          We should not increase the already heavy dependency on foreign sources for money and technology.

  • 12
    0

    “The few Dragon Fruit trees I planted two years back, have borne fruit last year. I have also around 80 date palm seedlings growing fairly well in Jaffna.”
    Proud about you Dr. Narendran for being a practical example to your brothers & sisters. It looks like you are in a different plain than lot of guys like me who only talk but do nothing…

  • 12
    1

    This is very useful information and analysis. Without prejudice to the persons concerned, this is something that all provincial councils should undertake in controlling their Ministers and members in delivery the required services to the people and refraining from corruption and misdeeds. The criteria should not be ‘politics’ but performance. I am happy that the Northern Provincial Council has given an example.

  • 2
    0

    The author [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    Translation of ‘random articles’ in Tamil into a single piece.

  • 13
    3

    I agree in toto that CM Wigneswaran is indulging in matters not within his purview. The NPC has passed a plathero of resolutions from genocide to UNHRC resolution. However, he has passed only 4 statutes out of a possible 300 to administer the NPC efficiently. He unnecessarily fell out with the Prime Minister by denigrating him as one who with 45 members has become Prime Minister. What does it matter to Wigneswaran if Ranil Wickremesinghe has 45 MPs or 145 MPs? That is none of his business. Then he insulted him by calling the UNP as uncle nephew party a totally unwarranted insinuation. After getting elected on the TNA/ITAK platform, he is now claiming he won the election on his own popularity. This is the unkindest cut of all. Wigneswaran was known only among the black-coated community and he is a total stranger to the people. He was born and bred in Colombo and lived there even after his retirement. Yet he thinks he is a more experienced politician than R.Sampanthan who is in politics for the last five decades! As the Chief Minister of NPC many consider him a failure unable and unwilling to address the multitude of problems faced by the common people who were victims of 30 years war. The fact that he spent only 38% of the capital expenditure budget up to November 30 and then spent 45% during December inflating the figure to 83% speaks volumes about his administration. Even, thereafter, he returned 17% of the budget allocation back to Treasury after complaining ad nauseam that the centre has not allocated enough funds to war torn Northern Province.

    • 1
      9

      Other this two more comments are noticeable, one from Chandrikathasan and other one from Naren’s Guru Prof. Laksiri Fernando.

      The matter here is Naren can post only what Douglas can write.

      Thangam is doing the Cinema Comedies.

      Entire thread is to shut off the NPC. Unfortunatly I have been asking to dissolve the NPC as soon as the government declared there will no Federal Constitution and IC or Foreign and commonwealth Judges and lawyers in the investigation.

      Secretary Kerry and Prince Zeid the High Commission of UNHRC were extremely success in spiting the way they destroyed Robert Black complete plucked out Aananthasangary from Tamils. He could not win even a seat for him. Forget about the TULF which did a complete sweep after Vaddukkodai Convention. Thangam using Sumanthiran, who has done much behind to Kumar when he was in TNA, trying show CV as a Colombo Tamils. This behavior is like a man coming to court with the prostitute with whom recently he has been sleeping with and telling to the judge “Your honor my wife is prostitute sir, Here is the Kanagi, I want to marry her”. There is nothing CV doing other than NPC and Jaffna politics. When he was government employee he did that for everybody’s admiration.

      Thangam has to understand, The day CV leaves NPC CM post, Thavaraja will be the CM. Chasing CV is not the solution for North, NPC has to dissolved CV has to released to attend the Tamils matters and one of the TNA Parliament MP has to give up the MP post to him.

      • 8
        0

        Autonomous lunatic Mallaiyuran [Edited out]

    • 5
      0

      Thanga

      I agree with every word you have said about the CM. He is proving to be a nincompoop.

      He is an incompetent and an idiotic CM speaking through his posterior.

      He is supported by the pro Tiger diaspora groups who campaigned for the reelection of Mahinda.

    • 1
      0

      Thanga,

      “The fact that he spent only 38% of the capital expenditure budget up to November 30 and then spent 45% during December inflating the figure to 83% speaks volumes about his administration. Even, thereafter, he returned 17% of the budget allocation back to Treasury after complaining ad nauseam that the centre has not allocated enough funds to war torn Northern Province.”

      I have seen this claim before. Maybe you have posted it earlier? Can you give a source for the numbers?

      How can 45% be spent in one month? Spent on what? Should there not be a bidding and approval process that takes a long time?

      I agree with you but would like to see sources for the details.

  • 6
    0

    It is good for the NPC to self correct. It is a sign of vibrant democracy! If only the National Parliament would do the same!
    Sengodan. M

  • 1
    6

    The article is not written scientifically but seems to be based on gossip and some random write up available on the web.
    The author says desalination plan “increase in salt content- changes and damages fish breeding areas”, Does the author know, what is the average salinity at the proposed site? Does he know, how much freshwater discharged into the Bay of Bengal by Brahmaputra, Ganga, Irrawaddy and Mahaweli? Does he know that Bay of Bengal is less productive than Arabian Sea? Does he know the reason for that? Could he quantify, how much would be the increase on the salinity due to the desalination plant? After that, we could discuss on the damage to the fish breeding ground!
    The other issue he is trying to talk is Chunnakam well water contamination? Everybody, including author seems to believe that the sole problem with peninsula water is oil contamination!. The oil decays with time and slowly may disappear from the system, if the contamination is from point source and onetime event. But the problem with E coli and Nutrients are opposite, they enrich with time!
    The author says “Extension services to farmers have collapsed under the Provincial Council system. Fertilizer, Weedicide and Pesticide peddlers from big companies have by default become the best friends of the farmers, in the absence of efficient extension services.” So does it mean Provincial Council system is not good and brings it under central government? What is he aiming at?
    The author says “There is excessive use of chemicals in agriculture now and this has resulted in soil and water contamination” No man!, Use of excessive chemical started from Srima’s period in 1970s, He seems to have Vickneswaran (provincial council) phobia!

    • 6
      1

      1. Please explain scientifically to people of Chunnakam why their well waters are yet contaminated with oil and what should be done to resolve the problem.
      2. Please scientifically allay the fears of the fisherman about seawater desalination plants .
      3. Please scientifically explain to the consuming public why the water they consume and use for irrigation is highly contaminated with fertilizer and other agriculture related residues and their effect on public health.

      They are experiencing problems now and the problems have to be resolved scientifically, if possible or averted by adopting prudent preventive measures. We know more today than in the days Sirimavo ruled and the problems itself has got worse,since.

      Please read the Udhayan report I have referenced to understand the concerns of the Provincial Councillors who are voicing the concerns of the people.

      I will be interested to read your solutions to these problems.
      Dr.RN

  • 1
    0

    I wish I could answer all the questions but I am not an expert on all, anyway let me try. I wish to learn more.

    1) why their well waters are yet contaminated with oil?
    No one seems to know the quantity of waste oil dumped. If the water is still continue to be contaminated (some doubt it), it may be possible that the dumped quantity is sufficiently enough to continue to leak into the ground water still.
    The physics Department of Jaffna University (with collaboration – if technology is not available) may conduct electric survey (or any other method) and identify the oil dump and recover and destroy it properly. Then, conduct a cleanup operation, so that the source of contamination is removed. The left over may disintegrate and destroyed naturally.
    In 2006, a cargo vessel named ‘Amanath Sha’ sunk off Koggala, the oil washed ashore and entered into Koggala Lagoon, a massive cleanup operation was undertaken, left over oil was naturally disintegrated (weathered off) with time, the sensitive ecosystem was restored.
    2. Fears of the fisherman about seawater desalination plants

    There is a very strong water current flows along the east coast of India and Sri Lanka. Fishermen knew that, if they leave a drift net at Maruthankerny at the dawn of the day, the net would drift up to Point Pedro or to the Elephant Pass (depend on the season) on the break of the day. Whatever discharged (warm water, etc), it would be advected with the current and also dispersed. About the removal of salt, the Puttalum Lagoon is the most productive Lagoon in Sri Lanka. At the southern end of the Puttlaum Lagoon, salt is produced!

    3) Why the water they consume and use for irrigation is highly contaminated with fertilizer and other agriculture related residues
    Simply because excessive fertilizer and other chemicals are used and the irrigation is system is not appropriate. So that groundwater is beyond recovery. Furthermore, in Sri Lanka, the rivers are used as dumping site. Even in Colombo it could not be controlled!. Recently on a rainy day, a soft drink manufacture released oil waste into the Kelani River, which ended up at Ampathale pumping station destroying machinery! Mahawali from upstream receives all kind of pollutant into it. It would collect all kind of pollutant on its way. Can you imagine, what it would have when diverted and reach Iranaimadu? There are some people believe that Mahawali water is the cause for Chronic Kidney Disease at Padavia, Sripura, etc (where Mahawali water is used for paddy cultivation)!

  • 2
    1

    Limited land, high demand for energy and water sources with rapidly growing population are some issues to be addressed in coming years.

    As usual Jaffna would take a lead on this front after challenging social justice issues in post independent era in Sri Lanka.

    We like it or not, desalination has become the alternative source for clean water. But the problem is excessive energy also needed to separate salt from sea water during the desalination process. Not sure how we can use dirty petroleum products to generate enough power for desalination process in Jaffna.

    Another option is using small scale nuclear power generators or gets enough electricity from nearby nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

    After all, such small nuclear power generators are already being used in submarines and aircraft carriers by many developed countries.

    I was told that many research teams are working on to optimize this desalination process. As someone already mentioned here, nano- structured materials are already being tested in laboratories for generation 2 membranes for separating salt from sea water. Energy required for the desalination process is also being reduced by many factors.

    In fact, based on the experience from desalination plants, Saudi Arabia has pumped enough money to hire many young faculties to focus specifically on developing next generation desalination process related projects at MIT. But it won’t be available to the consumers in next few years.

    In short term, the best option is to focus on getting better water filters to increase the quality of drinking water taken from the affected wells in Jaffna. Also come up with plans to encourage farmers to use natural fertilizes in farm lands. One incentive is to create a channel for farmers to export organic farm products with premium price to balance the farming cost.

  • 5
    0

    It may not be appropriate to judge the performance of the agriculture minister knowing his background as a graduate teacher before he became the agriculture minister. Apparently, as a minister he is not sufficiently knowledgeable to handle his subject. Unfortunately, he had to face many problems such as well pollution in the peninsula, Iranaimadu water to Jaffna, desalinisation, river for Jaffna and Parthenium weed problem etc.
    If the minister is keen and persevering, he should have had a small group of really knowledgeable and experienced advisors in the field of agriculture such as agricultural economist, climatologist, hydrologist, irrigation agronomist, soil scientist and engineer. Because nobody can be an expert in everything pertaining to agriculture. Each problem has to be discussed with this group either collectively or individually and take the necessary action to solve the problem.
    Some of the points raised in the article as well as the comments don’t seem to reflect in-depth knowledge of the problem or the situation.
    Take the case of river for Jaffna. Although Mr. Arumugam of the irrigation department proposed this idea, in his final paper on the groundwater of Northern Province for the Institution of Engineers, Ceylon, he did not mention anything about river for Jaffna. Because, open water evaporation is more than the depth of water that can be stored in the lagoons without inundation of the surrounding agricultural lands. Besides, groundwater cannot be recharged by water bodies at sea level.
    In the case of Iranaimadu water for Jaffna, nobody seem to realise the following points.
    o Water in the Iranaimadu tank and it’s dead storage maintains the water table in the wells around Kilinochchi area. This water only is used for agriculture and domestic purposes.
    o When there is water shortage in Jaffna there will be water shortage in Kilinochchi also. Tank will not have enough water to send to Jaffna. Further, Iranaimadu spills only once in 4 or 5 years.
    o Mahaweli water project according to the master plan is only up to Mankulam. Initally NCP canal will be constructed for serving Kaudulla area. Only if there is sufficient water , the balance NCP canal will be constructed. So we cannot depend on Mahaweli water immediately

    Desalinisation by reverse osmosis is very costly and of high energy use. Mostly, middle eastern countries only use this process because they have the petro-dollars. Only if the cost of getting fresh water is higher than from reverse osmosis, countries opt for the latter..In any case, Sri Lanka cannot afford desalinisation by reverse osmosis.

    Many studies have shown that for the average rainfall of 42 inches during NE monsoon, limestone aquifer of the Jaffna get charged with fresh water more than it can hold even after the runoff. The excess water leaks to the sea and lagoon at a fast rate from December to April/May. After May, hydrostatic pressure becomes low enough for the fresh water leak to the sea to become slow. The balance groundwater seems to be enough for irrigation and domestic purposes. The option is for better groundwater management or very costly transport water from Iranaimadu. Careful study is needed. Probably Minister Ayngaranesan is aware of all these implications for being quiet against public outcry

    • 7
      0

      Walter Aramkumar,

      Thanks for your thoughts and input into a very much needed discussion on the water problem in Jaffna and possible solutions. I give below two very informative links on the subject:

      1. http://www.noolaham.net/project/43/4287/4287.pdf

      2.https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/did-an-email-stop-the-completion-of-the-river-for-jaffna-project/

      The issue seems to have been studied in depth over centuries, considering that the ‘Jaffna River Project’ in a rudimentary form was conceptualized during Dutch colonial rule. Centuries have elapsed since and the project now needs mainly a three kilometer canal and of course some input from the Mahaveli system. I also feel the issue has to be resolved on an urgent basis, if Jaffna is to achieve its potential and stand on sturdy legs.

      Dr.RN

      • 1
        0

        Inputs from those who have read the contents iof the two links provided in the above comment, will contribute to comprehend the water problem in Jaffna, the urgency for solutions and the nature of solutions.

        Dr.RN

  • 2
    3

    In the long term, desalination is possibly the only option to solve Jaffna’s fresh water problems. The cost is expected to go down over the years with further developments in technology and possible use of solar power available in plenty in the North.
    It is time to make a serious start. The fears of the fishers are greatly unfounded. There should obviously means to properly dispose of the concentrated brines in the vast expanse of the sea!
    Sengodan. M

  • 1
    0

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran
    Thank you for the references. If you see figure VII on page 18, on your first reference noolaham, anyone with some knowledge on groundwater hydrology will immediately know that the information is inaccurate. Such books have scientifically wrong information. The author does not seem know that the fresh water is in the form of a convex lens and always have the water table above mean sea level under normal conditions. Obviously, the ignorant and the gullible will accept these as facts because an engineer has written the book. Just because it is in print, it need not necessarily be true. Many publications in Sri Lanka are published in obscure journals without it even being refereed by experienced scientists. This is done just for the sake of publishing merely for promotional requirements in their profession. Very often people are misled by conclusions made from computer modelling unless the model is validated by actual measurements. So people have to be careful in their judgement of the information.
    It is heartening to know that many organizations from the Diaspora like SCOT, Water for Vanni, Manithaneyam etc are actively pursuing agricultural activities in Sri Lanka. Because the members of the donor organizations come from different disciplines, like doctors, engineers, veterinary surgeons, accountants etc, they may not be competent to plan their projects scientifically. An experienced retired agriculture instructor from the Agriculture Department may be the most suitable person to be in charge of the project in the field.. As far as the University is concerned, they don’t have a history of practical research beneficial to the farmer, unlike the agriculture department.

  • 1
    0

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran
    Mr.K. Arulananthan
    Water pollution., A surface film , something like oil on the Jaffna wells’ water surface was observed even earlier.. This was attributed it to the accumulation of dust, decaying dead leaves etc. The foot-valve of the intake hose of the pump is at a depth below well water surface. During irrigation, the surface water is undisturbed and the accumulated dust and debris will remain on the surface. The water never smelled like oil.
    Oil pollution was suspected only consequent to the power station at Chunnakam dumping oil into the ground. Many people complained about seeing and smelling oil. These were observations and hearsay only. No chemical testing was done. Well waters supposed to be contaminated with oil were later tested by the standard method of detecting grease and oil. Briefly, this is by extracting contaminants with solvent hexane and checking for components of contaminants. I understand that this method not only determines the hydrocarbons from the grease and oil but also includes hydrocarbons from dusts, rotting leaves and other debris. Based on these results, media reported the contamination and the public panicked.
    Later, waters from 12 wells were tested by gas chromatography by careful sampling specifically for contaminants from petroleum products. No traces of petroleum contaminants were found in the water samples.
    For the past few years no oil had been dumped into the soil and now this practice has been stopped completely. All that can be inferred from the test results is either the dumped oil did not get into the aquifer or the oil has been decomposed by bacteria and diluted.
    Nitrates
    Nitrates have been detected in some well waters adjoining farms to be greater than the WHO upper limit for potable use. The assumption is that N-fertilisers get leached into the well with irrigation and rain water. Though it is a logical conclusion, it is not scientifically proved. To prove it scientifically, you have to sample the soil periodically at different depths during irrigation and rain and follow the path of soil nitrogen peak or you can use a surrogate like bromine for nitrate which is easily detectable.
    In the Urban area, nitrate and e-coli contaminants in well water is from the sewage pits or septic tanks. Since the water table is high and the fresh water layer is thin near coastal area, the only way, I can think of is drainage of sewerage system for the Jaffna Municipality. For the same reason, it is better to site hotels in the central region of the peninsula where the thickness of fresh water is high.
    .

  • 2
    0

    Walter Aramkumar,

    The location of toilet pits in close proximity to wells is definitely a problem and we have to think of alternatives like the dry toilets that have been developed in India and Australia. However, since synthetic fertilizers and other Argo-chemicals are used at much higher than recommended levels here in Jaffna, their culpability cannot be ruled out. The soil penetration itself, will depend on the nature of the soils.

    Further, bromine and bromides with time get oxidized to form bromates, which are toxic and carcinogenic. There are strict rules now in the developed countries on the permissible levels of bromates in drinking water.

    However, time is running out fast with regards to the water problem in Jaffna. The data collected by the irrigation department , agriculture department and the National Water Board, should provide sufficient for decisions to be made. Further, the experience, research and action in other countries would also prove valuable. Specific issues can also be researched fast at both the laboratory and field levels.

    I have spent plenty of time reading and listening to talks on the ‘Jaffna River Project’ and am convinced it should be completed as fast as possible. The environmental concerns expressed by some with regard to salt water lagoons becoming fresh water reservoirs, are minuscule in import than the Jaffna being bedeviled by a water crisis.

    Dr.RN

  • 2
    0

    Walter Aramkumar,’

    Further to my response posted a few minuted back, I provide below a comprehensive report published by the US government on the subject of nitrogen penetration of soils and ground water contamination:

    http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/nutrients/pubs/wcp_v39_no12/

    Dr.RN

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.