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The Mahaweli Development Project ,1980-1988

The Mahaweli Project in Sri Lanka, was a giant international aid project, which by damming the great Mahaweli river and creating five large dams and artificial lakes of up to 25 square kilometers of water surface each, provided gravity irrigation to large areas of dry-zone scrub jungle, creating new agricultural land and making possible a transfer of a farming population of over one million from overcrowded traditional farmlands to new and larger holdings.

Ulrik Plesner established and was the director of the Mahaweli Architectural Unit (MAU) planning the towns, buildings, institutions and landscapes of the project, all in the spirit of traditional Sri Lankan small towns, but with the traffic and future growth resolved. He was responsible directly to the Minister of Mahaweli Development, the hon.Gamini Dissanayke (since assassinated by Tamil separatists), and to the World Bank, the European Community (in collaboration with Dan Wajnman) and Danida (Danish foreign aid).
Today the agriculture thrives, but the development and life of the towns has been severely affected by the civil war in Sri Lanka.