Published on February 19, 2014
The Dam was opened approximately 35 years ago by Hon. Minister Gamini Dissanayake with the aim of being the third largest hydroelectric power station in the country. However, looking back, there has been many unforeseen repercussions post its construction that has negatively impacted livelihoods. During the construction of the Dam, employment was hired from outside of the area (temporarily), rather than giving opportunities to the people from the neighbouring villages. Due to the construction spanning approximately 30 years, the villages were cut off from services across the river. This necessitated people having to make long journeys in order to get across to schools, markets and hospitals on the other side of the river. In addition, the flooding of the valley, meant that villages, temples, schools and homes were submerged and lost forever. Families were asked to evacuate from their ancestral lands, with many loosing their livelihood along with their fields. Today, water is the primary issue affecting farmers in the area. For instance the production of Pepper and cloves has diminished due to the reduced access to water. Even though people have been personally affected by the Dam, they recognize the value that it has brought in terms of development (i.e. better infrastructure such as improved roads) for the area and to the country at large.
RESETTLEMENT The original villages had to be broken up into 4 to 5 new villages. Some families were sent to others districts such as Polonnaruwa. Other families were given ½ acre land & 1 acre paddy field proportionate to the amount that they lost. Thus creating new villages . The names of the villages however had a link to their past. E.g. ‘Morape’ was renames as ‘New Morape’. EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES In regards to employment opportunities, he mentioned that they were few and far between. Many of the youth needed to seek employment far from home. People needed to seek multiple sources of revenue to survive. For instance, after getting back from work, they needed to tend to their plantations (tea, vegetables etc.) POWER The electricity produced at the Kotmale plantation goes straight to the ‘Free trade zone’ in Katunayake. The villages here get their electricity from Lakshapana power plants.
EDUCATION Very low (less than 10%), some complete A/Ls but rarely find a government job. Very few do higher education. Very limited use of English language. Students go to Gampola & Kandy for tuition classes. Youth look for jobs at a very early age and some do daily jobs (Contracts) ECONOMY People suffer from many economical issues - gross individual income is low. Expenditure rates are higher compared to the income of low income families. Different vegetables can be grown in this climate and tea is a good business here. Population growth is very low.
Many of our relatives were displaced and only a handful remain with us. Before the construction of the dam they told people to take everything as much as possible and leave. In return they gave land & many people possess about 2 acres of land now. Before the dam people had to go to Gampola to buy groceries but now it’s much developed.
Sub roads were built to transport materials needed for the construction of the dam but once the project was completed in my opinion nothing improved. Everything came to a standstill. About 5 or 6 temples went under water. “wathura paara raja ratatath genichcha”.
People are still facing the recovery stage and trying to get back on their feet. It’ll never be the same like it used to be. Nevertheless people here are very friendly, kind, they help each other & are innocent. No thieves in this area. I live alone and I can go anywhere with all the doors opened and nothing will happen.
Before the dam we were in Thispane, now in Nugawela. We used to own spacious lands. Tea planters used to live in line houses back then where we currently live. We used to do tea business. Now we’ve a chicken farm (Broilers). We get chicks from the Gampola farm, and we dilute medicine and feed them to avoid the spread of sicknesses. We got a loan (20,000/-) from the ‘Gami Diriya’ fund and we were able to settle it in less than a year. Initially we got a training from the Gampola farm and a supervisor comes monthly to check the progress and gives us tips and helps us if we’ve any issues. Apart from the chicken farm we’ve couple of hens to get eggs. (Gang kikili biththara)
Some children after O/Ls go to the army camp (next to the dam) The training there is known to be good and eventually they could find jobs. Also, the vocational training institute is the other choice. I’ve one son who drives a Tuk Tuk. Other 2 sons work on contract basis as painters. We watch TV when children are there. (Usually 8pm to 10pm), We watch teledramas, Swarnawahini news, Nugasewana – in the morning. We have Dialog TV. I wake up at 4am and cook for all three meals. Children like to eat only if the food is hot otherwise they won’t eat. We buy vegetables from ‘nawa nagaraya’ or Gampola vegetable Pola. This area has only 2 shops. Since those days we’ve been drinking Nestomalt. Usually we eat Harischandra noodles. We use Anchor milk powder. We had cows and goats and we used to get fresh milk but then we got sick of it.
I used to work at a tea estate before the dam was built. Life was much Better then. People used to earn well. People used to have lands of Coconut, Pepper, Kithul, Cloves, and Cardamom. After the dam population got bigger and people started traveling around. I worked in Kandy during the early part of life and saved up and bought a 3-wheeler which I run around town. The three wheel stand is located right opposite the bus stop. Most of the hires I get are usually from People who are on their way back home. This is my hometown and been living here for the last 30 years now.
Settled in 1985, as an entrepreneur. I’ve been running the tailor shop for 8 years. Specialised mainly in women's wear. One year experience working at a garment factory in operating JUKI machinery led me to start this business. People working in the army camp come for type setting and to get Photo copies. This is the only photocopy/fax/typesetting shop in the neighborhood. I’m a Teacher by profession but I own this retail shop too. I conduct History classes for O/L students. I go to school by a staff van. I’m married and have children and we live in a 2 story house.
Those days were much better. People had better qualities. Now people have all materialistic things but they aren’t spiritual. I feel people can’t control their feelings now as they aren’t educated.
Thank You ! A presentation created by Leo Burnett (SL) Brand Planning Team January - 2014
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