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No plan to impose water tax on farmers – Minister

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There is no plan to impose a water tax on farmers who provide the staple food to the country, says Irrigation, Wildlife and Forestry Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.

Only a proposal has been made to make a policy to conserve water resources in the country, she points out. The Minister said that the preparation of such a policy would not happen immediately, it would be a serious task and take a long time, therefore attention should be drawn to various sectors.

The Minister Wanniarachchi was addressing representatives of the Farmer Organisation held in the Anuradhapura District Secretariat recently (29). The meeting was arranged to solve the disputes of irrigation, wildlife, and forestry sectors, and the leaders of farmer organisations in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Mannar, and Vavuniya districts.

Answering a farmer representative, the Minister said that an unfounded fear has been created by certain political groups.

A proposal has been made to prepare a water policy and whether water is released first for drinking purposes, electricity generation or agriculture is highlighted in it but the Government has not decided at all to impose a water tax, and such a decision would never be taken in the future, Minister Wanniarachchi reiterated.

Among the other issues in the irrigation, wildlife, and forestry sectors discussed in depth during the meeting were the maintenance of canals, damage to cultivation by wild animals, erecting and maintenance of electric fences, paddy prices, and delay of fertiliser subsidies.

The delays in paying compensation to those who lost their land in the Yan Oya Project were discussed. The Minister said that a Cabinet Paper has already been presented to pay such compensation without delay.

Meanwhile, farmers complained about the continuous unauthorised construction in the reservation areas of certain irrigation tanks and illegal land grabs in the Anuradhapura district.

Accordingly, the Minister instructed the Director General of Irrigation to investigate the matter and submit a complete report.

MPs S. M. Chandrasena, H. Nandasena and Irrigation Secretary Saman Darshana Pandikorala, Wildlife and Forestry Secretary Gunadasa Samarasinghe, Anuradhapura District Secretary Janitha Jayasundara, Director General of Irrigation Eng. Ajith Gunasekera, Wildlife Department DG Chandana Suriya Bandara, Conservator General of Forests Nishantha Edirisinghe, Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority DG Mahendra Abeywardena, several Government officials and the representatives of farmer organisations participated.

 

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