Innovation in Sri Lanka: EDF conducts a Study on Greenhouse Gas Emissions as Part of the Mundeni Aru Watershed Development Project, Financed by French Agency for Development (AFD)

The Mundeni Aru watershed development project involves the merging of the Rugam and Kitul Wewa reservoirs downstream of the basin, as well as the construction of a reservoir at Maha Oya, upstream of the Mundeni Aru. As part of the project’s study on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, EDF, the French leader in the energy sector, was in the East from 24 to 27 April visiting the project site of the future dam, as well as the sites of the existing dams. This is a first in Sri Lanka and one of the world’s first in the field of environmental impact studies of an irrigation dam.

The catchment area of Mundeni Aru, with a hydrographic coverage of 1,375 km2, extends mainly to the rural areas of Ampara and Batticaloa districts in the Eastern Province, as well as to the districts of Monaragala and Badulla in the province of Uva.

This rice basin contributes significantly to the country’s agricultural economy. It records an average annual rainfall of 1926 mm. Frequent floods during the north-east monsoon (September to April), are a recurring threat to the local population. Agricultural activities are also heavily impacted by the drought experienced by the region during the dry season.

Requested by the Government of Sri Lanka, AFD is studying a climate-smart project that respects water resources and that requires the establishment of a dedicated steering committee. The estimated cost of this project, co-financed by the European Union, is about 130 million euros.

The Mundeni Aru watershed development project, through the construction of the Maha Oya dam and the merging of the Kitul Wewa and Rugam reservoirs, will increase the irrigable land area, secure the water supply of the irrigated perimeters and help mitigate the risk of flooding downstream of the watershed. In the long term, these dams could also be used for hydropower generation as well as for drinking water supply in Batticaloa and Ampara districts and surrounding towns.

As with all the projects it finances, AFD assesses the impact of this project on greenhouse gas emissions. Since the impoundment of a dam causes the degradation of part of the flooded biomass, leading to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, which has a global warming potential 21 times greater than CO2.

During his field mission, Mr. Chanudet of EDF, accompanied by Mr. K. Sivapalasundaram, (Project Director), gathered the information necessary for the calculations of greenhouse gas emissions related to the project from the stakeholders of the Batticaloa and Ampara districts. The merging of existing reservoirs as well as the construction of the new reservoir will lead to an increase in rice paddies and potentially an increase in herds, emitting greenhouse gases. The estimates of greenhouse gas emissions that will result from this study will facilitate recommendations to mitigate them.

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From left: Mr. A.L. Jameel, Snr. Environmental Officer, MARBDP, Mr. J. Pushparajah, Beat Forest Officer, Forest Dept, Mr. T. Kuganath, Engineering Asst. Irrigation Dept, Mr. E. Sivanathan, Snr. Technical Officer, MARBDP, Eng. M. Mauran, Snr. Project Engineer, MARBDP, Mr.M.A.Jaya, Asst. Divi. Forest Officer, Forest Department, Eng. M. Vincent Chanudet, EDF, Eng. K. Sivapalasundarum, Project Director, MARBDP, Eng. S. Jeyan Paarthasarathy, Divi. Irrigation Engineer, Irrigation Dept, Eng. R. H. David, Project Engineer, MARBDP, Mr. S. Rameshwaran, Snr. Social Officer.

For more information on AFD’s climate intervention strategy: https://www.afd.fr/en/climate-development-strategy-2017-2022

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European Union

“The information and views set out in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein”.

Online 17/05/2018

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