July 01, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has assured that the Government will look into the future activities of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development project while giving priority to resolve the problems faced by the people affected by the project.
President Sirisena Friday chaired a special discussion with the representatives of the civil organizations representing the people affected by the multipurpose development project.
The organizations presented the details of the issues that the people in Uva Province have to face due to the Uma Oya Project in detail to the President at the meeting and the President assured to speedily resolve the issues related to the housing facilities, drinking water and destruction of the crops or agricultural products.
The President further said that the Government after consulting with an independent technical specialist team will look into the possibility of temporarily halting the works of the project, until solutions are found to alleviate the difficulties faced by the people.
The President said that a Norwegian Specialist team is scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka at the first week of August and a specialist from Germany has already started to investigate the environmental impact of the project.
He said that adding according to their ideas and suggestions, the Government will consider the possibility of taking forward this project while resolving the existing issues, minimizing the damages and utilizing the modern technology to a maximum level.
The residents claim that over 7,000 homes have been damaged by the construction of the massive underground tunnels being dug for the project and the fresh water springs and reservoirs have dried up in many areas in the Uva Province.
The multi-purpose project involves the construction of two reservoirs on tributaries of the Uma Oya, which flows 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 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.
Ministers Mahinda Amaraweera, Harin Fernando, Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa, Uva Province Chief Minister Chamara Sampath Dasanayaka, Uva Provincial Councilor Samantha Vidyarathna, Secretary for the Mahaweli Development & Environment Anura Dissanayake, Deputy Project Director of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development project P.B. Amarasekara also participated in the meeting.