In Sri Lanka, a major river project is being developed to bring a million acres of land (about 400,000 hectares) under cultivation and to provide many thousands of jobs in an area of high unemployment.
GV Villagers on way to inauguration ceremonies
SV Villagers standing at ceremony site
SV Schoolgirls performing on drums
GV Guests at ceremony
SV Sri Lanka President Junius Jayewardene speaking and crowd (3 shots)
SV Construction in progress at dam site (3 shots)
SV Waters of the Mahaveli River (3 shots)
GV Rice paddies (2 shots)
GV Mahaveli River (2 shots)
President Jayewardene's government has encountered both success and serious problems in its first year in office. The main difficulties have been demands from the minority Tamil population for a separate state, high unemployment and inflation, and a badly run-down economy. But the achievements include a series of record rice crops, a soaring world price for Sri Lanka's main export, tea, and a favourable trade balance for the first time in 20 years.
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Background: In Sri Lanka, a major river project is being developed to bring a million acres of land (about 400,000 hectares) under cultivation and to provide many thousands of jobs in an area of high unemployment. The World Bank is providing funds for the scheme, which will divert water from Sri Lanka's largest river, the Mahaveli, into a reservoir 115 miles (185 kilometres) northeast of Colombo.
SYNOPSIS: The inauguration ceremony last week attracted several thousand villagers and schoolchildren. The river scheme is expected to provide up to half a million jobs for local people during the peak years of construction, land clearing and settlement.
Speaking at the inauguration, President Junius Jayewardene said the Maduru-Oya reservoir and its work opportunities would help meet the country's rising cost of living. The Mahaveli River scheme was originally intended to be developed over 25 years, redirecting the waters into the dry, infertile lands of the north. But now the project--with accelerated foreign aid--is scheduled for completion in five years. It will double Sri Lanka's hydroelectric generating capacity to 950 megawatts, with surplus power possibly available for export to southern India.
The attendant irrigation schemes could make the country completely self-sufficient in rice and other crops. All these benefits, say the government, make the expected cost of one and a half billion U.S. dollars well worth while.