During our last meeting in Fall 2023, I presented my proposal for the final project inspired by the second rapid development project in Sri Lanka. I proposed building a website called “Mapping Mahaweli” with a digital map that archives the historical milestones of the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project since 1961. The website will provide a platform for users to understand the river-based development project critically.

For those unfamiliar with the Mahaweli, it is the longest river in Sri Lanka. It runs 208 miles, starting from the central highlands and flowing across the country until it reaches the Bay of Bengal on the southwestern side of Trincomalee Bay. It carries the most significant volume of water, amounting to one-seventh of Sri Lanka’s total runoff, and has a basin that covers 15 percent of the country’s land. The Accelerated Mahaweli Development program is the largest multipurpose national development program in Sri Lanka’s history, initiated in 1961. This project aimed at large-scale development of the Mahaweli basin in several directions, including agricultural production, irrigation systems, resettlement of people, and flood mitigation.

The data for this project will be generated through archival collections in the University of Peradeniya Library and the Museum of the Sri Lanka Mahaweli Authority. The Mapping Mahaweli website will be built using a front-end framework (Bootstrap/ Foundation) and will use GitHub as the web host. This digital map and the website showcasing the history of the Mahaweli River and the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Project can provide valuable insights and data to researchers focused on Sri Lanka from various disciplines like history, archeology, anthropology, sociology, agriculture, and international relations.

In my next posts, I plan to dive deep into the technical aspects of my project as well as share what we learn this semester. Stay tuned!