The Anuradhapura District Secretariat yesterday (1), temporarily suspended the Rajanganaya water purification project, following the tense situation in Thambuttegama on 28 February. The Anuradhapura District Secretariat officials said, the decision on the privately owned purification project's future will be decided, based the outcome of the supposed discussions between the representatives of the residents, officers of the Department of Irrigation and other relevant stakeholders.
It was noted that the decision to suspend the project was taken on the directives of Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Vijith Wijayamuni Zoysa. He had further requested an inquiry report on the matter and details of any water shortage in the Rajanganaya tank too.
The project had received Cabinet approval in 2011 and had been commissioned by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board. With the construction of the project on the horizon, a large number of villagers, including farmers in the area, staged a protest in the heart of Thambuttegama, on 28 February, against utilising water from the Rajanganaya tank for the project. Reports suggested that the multinational water purification project was aimed at providing drinkable water to the surrounding areas, through the utilisation of the tank, which provides water for at least 17,000 acres of cultivated land.
It was reported that 50 individuals arrested for riotous behaviour during the protest on 28 February were remanded until 7 March, after they were produced before the Thambuttegama Magistrate's Court yesterday.
Police had arrested 59 residents over unruly behaviour, while nine were allowed bail.