Wed, Mar 25, 2015, 12:28 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Mar 24, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government will take measures to rebuild 600 houses destroyed due to the environmental damage caused by the Uma Oya Multi-purpose Development Project and provide drinking water to the affected families.
The project at an estimated cost of US$ 529 million was launched by the previous government in 2012 with a US$ 450 million loan from Iran.
The previous government has signed an agreement with the Farab Company of Iran on head works of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project which is currently being implemented. The physical progress of the project at present is approximately 47 percent.
However, with the ingress of water into the main tunnel in 2014, numerous socio-economic issues have occurred such as drying up of wells, developing cracks in houses and destruction of cultivations, in six Grama Niladhari divisions of Bandarawela and Ella Divisional secretariat divisions, the government says.
Therefore, the construction work of this project except essential works required to prevent the risk by sealing the water ingress in the Head Race Tunnel, have been temporally suspended since February 16 until a decision is made according to the recommendations of the Central Environmental Authority and the Special Intellectual Committee appointed in this regard.
The respective reports have now been issued and many measures have been recommended to remedy the problems.
Many of the recommended measures are to be performed by the contractor and the government plans to arrange a post inspection mechanism to prevent such situations in the future.
The President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, recently met with the people affected by the adverse environmental impact of the project and assured to address their grievances.
President Sirisena instructed the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Conservation to immediately provide a report on the present progress of the project, financial situation and public views on the project.
The multi-purpose project involves the construction of two reservoirs on tributaries of the Uma Oya, which flow down from central hills and join the Mahaweli River, and one tunnel on the Uma Oya to divert water to a power generator further downstream.
The water will be diverted to Kirindi Oya basin which will take water to Hambantota through the 25 km long underground tunnel across mountains in Bandarawela by creating a dam at Puhulpola in Welimada and a reservoir in Diaraba.
The proposal made by President Sirisena in his capacity as the Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment, to rebuild around 600 destroyed houses and to continuously provide drinking water for the affected families by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board has received approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.
The Cabinet which met Monday has also given approval to appoint a Cabinet Sub-committee consisting of the respective Minister and Ministers representing the area for presenting recommendations on the proceedings of the project, considering the recommendations of the Central Environmental Authority and the Intellectual Committee.