Saffron-robed buddhist monks chanted prayers and thousands of farmers cheered wildly as Prime Ministers Mrs.?
WV river dam
Mrs. Bandaranaike arrives (3 shots)
Mr. Bandaranaike with people
Mrs. Bandaranaike lights traditional oil lamp (2 shots)
Speech by Mrs. Bandaranaike
Buddhist monks sitting (2 shots)
Mrs. Bandaranaike operates the switch
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Saffron-robed buddhist monks chanted prayers and thousands of farmers cheered wildly as Prime Ministers Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike pressed a button to divert water from Sri Lanka's biggest river into parched areas of the north central province.
The ceremony, held at the auspicious time of 1917 (local) at Polgolla near Kandy in the central hill country, marked completion of the first stage of a 10,000 million Rupee (about one thousand three hundred million U.S. dollars) project using the River Mahaveli for irrigation and electricity generation.
Mrs. Bandaranaike told the estimated 500,000 strong crowd of farmers, monks, cabinet ministers and diplomats that the project, aided by the world bank, would make the country self-sufficient in food and help revitalise the economy.
As the diverted river water began to flow a five-mile (8 km) tunnel into the dry zone, thanksgiving services were held in temples, churches and mosques and 2,000 beggars were given a free meal.