Moragahakanda Reservoir


The Moragahakanda Reservoir stands proudly as a monumental achievement of hydroengineering, shaping the landscape of the Matale District in Sri Lanka. With its origins tracing back to ancient history and culminating in a modern marvel, the reservoir is a testament to human ingenuity and determination. In this article, we delve into the intricate details of the Moragahakanda Reservoir, exploring its significance, history, and multifaceted benefits for Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka's Moragahakanda Reservoir is a remarkable testament to human engineering, carving a monumental space within the Matale District. This reservoir has far-reaching implications, from irrigation to power generation, symbolizing the nation's progress and the fusion of history and modernity.

The Birth of a Vision: Moragahakanda Reservoir

The story of the Moragahakanda Reservoir's inception is one of visionary thinking and determination. Envisioned as a means to harness the untapped potential of the Amban River, the reservoir's birth was marked by a profound understanding of Sri Lanka's water resources and the need for sustainable development.
As the first step towards realizing this ambitious vision, engineers and planners came together to explore creating a reservoir that could serve multiple purposes. Beyond its essential role in irrigation, the reservoir's potential to generate hydroelectric power was a driving force behind its conception.
This visionary approach was not confined to the present moment but looked ahead to the region's future needs. The idea was to create a reservoir that could address the challenges of water scarcity, support agricultural growth, and contribute to the nation's energy needs.
The birth of the Moragahakanda Reservoir's vision resulted from careful consideration, collaboration, and a deep-rooted commitment to shaping a better future for Sri Lanka. Challenges, triumphs, and the unwavering belief in the power of human ingenuity would mark the journey from concept to reality.

The Ambitious Moragahakanda — Kalu Ganga Project

The Moragahakanda Reservoir is not a standalone endeavour but a part of the greater Moragahakanda — Kalu Ganga Project. This colossal undertaking involves the construction of both the Moragahakanda Dam and Reservoir and the Kalu Ganga Dam and Reservoir, designed to serve the dual purpose of irrigation and power generation.

A Glimpse into the Construction

Initiated in 2007, the construction of the Moragahakanda Dam was an intricate process marked by engineering excellence and determination. The dam's towering 65-meter height is a testament to the dedication of the project's teams.

The Historic Inauguration

In January 2017, a momentous event marked the release of the maiden waters of the Moragahakanda Dam. This event celebrated the reservoir's completion and highlighted its potential to transform the region's landscape.

Unveiling the Rich History

Exploring the history of the Moragahakanda Reservoir is like delving into the annals of time, uncovering a narrative that spans centuries. At the heart of this reservoir lies a connection to the past, a thread that links ancient water management practices with modern hydroengineering feats.
The reservoir's story is interwoven with the historical tapestry of Sri Lanka from the year 111 AD when King Wasaba constructed the original Moragahakanda reservoir. This early endeavour already showcased the importance of water management in the region, a concept that has persisted through the ages.

Mahaweli Development Programme

The Moragahakanda Reservoir's story intertwines with the Mahaweli Development Programme, a comprehensive initiative to harness Sri Lanka's water resources for irrigation, power generation, and more. The Moragahakanda project emerged as a vital component of this grand vision.

Overcoming Challenges

The journey towards realising the Moragahakanda Reservoir was not without its share of challenges, underscoring the resilience and determination of those involved in this monumental project.
While the vision for the reservoir was born from a desire to harness the potential of the Amban River, the path to its construction was marred by communal tensions and funding obstacles. The communal violence that plagued the region during the project's planning stages caused delays and disruptions, testing the resolve of those committed to the project's success.
Additionally, securing funding for such a colossal undertaking proved to be a formidable task. Although the Government secured funding from the China Development Bank, the process could have been more challenging and hindered progress.
However, the spirit of determination prevailed in the face of these challenges. The commitment of engineers, planners, and the wider community to see the project through remained unshaken. The delays and obstacles only galvanised their resolve, reinforcing the belief that the reservoir's potential benefits outweighed the difficulties.
Ultimately, the Moragahakanda Reservoir is a testament to the triumph of perseverance over adversity. The ability to overcome communal tensions and navigate complex financial landscapes showcases the nation's ability to rally together for a common goal. The reservoir's completion symbolises Sri Lanka's unwavering spirit, reminding us that challenges, no matter how daunting, can be surmounted through collective effort and steadfast determination.

 Moragahakanda Dam and Reservoir

The Moragahakanda Dam, a gravity dam standing 65 meters tall, forms the heart of the reservoir. With an active storage capacity of 521 million cubic meters, the reservoir has become a pivotal water resource for Sri Lanka's agricultural and energy needs.

Supporting Agriculture

Its waters promise to transform the region's farming landscape, breathing new life into fields that have long depended on the rhythm of rainfall. As water scarcity remains a pressing concern, the reservoir steps in as a reliable source of irrigation. The combined waters of the Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga reservoirs are poised to rejuvenate over 81,000 hectares of agricultural land. This revitalization is no small feat, projected to boost rice production by a staggering 81%, equivalent to an estimated 109,000 tons annually.

The economic implications are profound. The increased rice yield not only feeds families but also nourishes local economies. The anticipated monetary benefit of $1.67 million annually is a testament to the reservoir's role as a catalyst for prosperity.

Beyond the immediate economic gains, the agricultural growth facilitated by the Moragahakanda Reservoir aligns with sustainable practices. Reducing dependence on erratic rainfall patterns, the reservoir contributes to food security and stability, safeguarding against the fluctuations of nature.

The reservoir's impact on agriculture is not solely about yields and statistics; it's about creating a legacy of resilience and empowerment. It empowers farmers to confidently cultivate their lands, knowing water will be there when needed. It transforms arid fields into vibrant landscapes of opportunity, shaping the future of Sri Lanka's agricultural landscape.

Inland Fishing

Beyond its role in agriculture, the reservoirs offer a source of inland fishing, contributing to sustenance and local economies. The abundant aquatic resources have the potential to generate significant economic value, benefitting communities around the reservoir.

Quenching the Thirst: Water Supply Enhancement

The Moragahakanda and Kalu Ganga Reservoirs are also crucial in enhancing water supply. The projected increase in potable and industrial water supply promises to address the water needs of regions such as Matale, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, and Polonnaruwa.

Moragahakanda Hydroelectric Power Station

The Moragahakanda Hydroelectric Power Station harnesses the reservoir's water to generate power. While there is a discrepancy in claims, the potential cost savings from this hydropower station compared to traditional fossil fuel power generation are undeniable.

Infrastructure Transformation

The construction of the Moragahakanda Dam and Reservoir necessitated significant infrastructural development. Access roads, main road rerouting, and the Moragahakanda Bridge structure are testaments to the project's comprehensive transformation.

Kulasinghe Reservoir

In 2018, the reservoir was officially named Kulasinghe Reservoir, a tribute to the late Dr. A.N.S. Kulasinghe, a prominent Sri Lankan Civil Engineer. This renaming underscores the reservoir's place as a symbol of human achievement and dedication.

The Moragahakanda Reservoir is a testament to human vision and ingenuity, weaving together history and modernity. From its construction challenges to its far-reaching benefits, this reservoir exemplifies Sri Lanka's commitment to progress and sustainable resource management. As it continues to shape the region's landscape, it reminds us of the potential for transformation when human determination meets engineering brilliance.


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