Upper Kotmale Hydro project: JICA’s value addition benefits infrastructure at Talawakelle


Kiyoshi Amada (right) addressing the media. Seated at left is PR Officer, JICA Colombo, Nihal Dedigama. (Pic by Saman Abesiriwardena)

By Steve A. Morrell

The Kotmale project, funded by the Japanese government and implemented by The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), transformed the Talawakelle area into a modern township. The total commitment from the Japanese government was approximately US$ 441 million.

At a news conference convened last week, Kiyoshi Amada, Chief Representative on JICA’s operations in Sri Lanka, said every aspect for development of the Kotmale Hydro project was examined, and implemented. The finished product now delivers 150 megawatts to the main grid.

Irrespective of its completion within the allocated timeframe, he said, the power project did not in any way damage the eco sensitive infrastructure of Talawakelle or the adjunct hill country.

Additionally, natural beauty of the landscape, habitable road network, ethical necessities and mobility facilities were enhanced in relocation of housing for plantation workers, with space for each family to grow their nutrition needs, Amada noted.

He said that 498 re-sited families are now living in new housing units and segmented into the concept of a village. The transformed housing units were a far cry from the old line rooms traditionally seen in the plantations. Worker housing, as seen in a video clipping shown at the press briefing, depicted well manicured units with adequate space, and more importantly, maintained domestic privacy.

Surrounding hills and the end result of the Kotmale project was that the ecological ambiance of the transformation did not disturb the landscape centered round the Kotmale Dam. Additionally, the enhanced road network and road surfaces were asphalt coated to enhance efficiency of the transport system, he explained.

Transport and the connected road network facilitated travel convenience to Nuwara Eliya, and by-roads leading to Watagoda and further down the valley connecting roads to Nawalapitiya and other major hill country towns. Kotmale, would very likely be the last Hydro project that would be undertaken by the Japanese Government, he elaborated.

Amada further outlined other projects involving Japanese assistance — some as grant aid and others under loan assistance programs. He reiterated the loan segment was on easy payment schemes with grace periods of about 10 years. The Norachcholai coal power plant was one example of such assistance.

The media took up the position that coal was ‘dirty’ power, and further questioned the possibility of the Japanese government’s assistance for wind power and solar energy. That would depend on the government of Sri Lanka and their requests for such assistance, Amada pointed out.

A CEB engineer, at hand during the press conference, said Kotmale power generation was switched to the main grid, and enhanced the power contribution by 150 megawatts. This was an addition of about 3% to the main power supply.

Wind and solar power were actively considered, but inconsistent wind movement stalled power generation. This would be positively re-considered including solar power. Further questions from the media centered on the proposition for installation of a Monorail system within city limits to ease traffic congestion.

The proposed plan was installation of the Monorail system from Fort to Malabe. No finality was reached for approval for this scheme. This was still in discussion, but that did not deter the Japanese government from actively considering these development schemes subject to the government of Sri Lanka requesting implementation.

Amada further said that Japan assistance and grants were segmented to technical cooperation, 73 billion Japanese Yen, (JPY), Loan assistance 952 billion JPY, and grant assistance 205 billion JPY.


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