Patali in huff over demand for additional payment

Upper Kotmale construction


By Ifham Nizam

Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has said that not even an additional five cents would be paid for the construction of the 150MW Upper Kothmale Hydro Power Plant.

An angry Ranawaka has said that as per the agreement, there was no room for additional payments, a Ceylon Electricity Board senior official said.

The outburst from the Minister follows the Japanese Consultants backed by the local project big-wigs seeking an additional six billion rupees for the completion of the 150 MW Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Plant.

Meanwhile, other sources said that the Japanese had asked for Rs. 10 billion for delays and additional work.

CEB officials also said that the delay in the construction would further weaken the debt ridden institution as failure to commission the plant would force it to depend on expensive thermal power.

Project Director, Shavindranath Fernando was on record that although the project was due to be launched in the 1980s, it never saw the light of day due to political expediency and various other reasons.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa took the bold decision in 2005 to proceed with the project.

All intricate aspects of the Japanese-funded Rs.40 billion project had been minutely examined for its commissioning shortly, the senior engineer earlier said.

The test-filling of the reservoir was completed in December last year, followed by its connection to the national grid and a test run. The Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) of Japan funded the conceptual design, environmental impact assessment and the final design.

The project was completed under several phases. The project has the longest mountain tunnel in the country — 13 kilometres.

Four-hundred and ninety-five families, mostly plantation Tamils, who were displaced under the project, have been resettled in modern housing units with compensation and livelihood facilities.

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