Sri Lanka opts for desalination

Sri Lanka has opted to construct a seawater desalination plant to supply drinking water to people in the northern Jaffna peninsula after a plan to divert water from a reservoir failed.

The Asian Development Bank has agreed to consider a loan of US$ 90 million to Sri Lanka to fund the desalination project, the government said. The loan would fund a seawater desalination plant in Jaffna after a proposal to divert water from the Iranaimadu reservoir, south of the peninsula, was abandoned following protests from farmers and inadequate capacity in the reservoir. 

The cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal by water minister, Rauf Hakeem, to seek additional funds to revamp the Jaffna – Kilinochchi water supply and sanitation project.

Following the resettlement in Kilinochchi of people displaced by the ethnic war which ended in 2009, demand for water for irrigation increased, resulting in strong resistance from farmer organisations to share water with Jaffna district. 

The situation escalated after an unusually severe drought in 2012 when the water level in the Iranaimadu Tank fell drastically.