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Sunday, 25 December 2011

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Development

Drive to continue in 2012:

Sri Lanka on right track to development



Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Performing Arts Centre

Next Sunday would mark the beginning of a new year which would see the completion of more development projects that two decades ago were confined to the drawing boards of bureaucrats and politicos. The year 2012 would see more dreams of Sri Lankans turning into reality, taking the country closer towards its goal of becoming the Wonder of Asia.

One of the most 'looked forward to' projects that would be handed over to the people would be the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway, which would enable a motorist to drive to the Bandaranaike International Airport in just 35 minutes. The Chinese MCC, which is handling the construction, has taken great pains to complete this project which would place the country on a better footing to market itself for investments, tourism and many other sectors. Another crying need of the country; the second international airport at Mattala too would see the light of day, making Sri Lanka an aviation hub in the region.

The construction work of the runway at Mattala International Airport is now nearing completion. The project is being implemented under the Mahinda Chinthana initiative of 'Winning The Blue Sky', with the aim of making Sri Lanka a major aviation hub in South Asia. The total cost of the airport project is in the region of over US $ 300 million.

Alongside this development, emphasis has also been given to domestic air travel and a domestic airport would be opened in Katunayake in 2012 using the old SriLankan Airlines Catering building.


A shop at the Dutch Hospital complex
Colombo Galle Expressway

Discussions to revive the ferry service between India and Colombo were under way for three decades and it was eventually in 2011 that the Indian luxury liner Flamingo started services to Sri Lanka. Though this service was stopped due to operational reasons, a service from Sri Lanka would commence again next year.

One of the other major projects that would be opened next year is the much awaited and long overdue Upper Kotmale hydro power project. This is the largest development project being implemented in the Hill Country. Over 400 million units of power will be generated by this project annually. The project is being implemented at a cost of Rs. 37,000 million.

Longest tunnel

The power house which is 66 metres long and 19 metres wide has been constructed, surrounded by rocks, and would be connected through a tunnel which is the longest tunnel constructed in Sri Lanka. It has been constructed by drilling through the rocky mountain. Two generators of 75 mega watts each have been installed in the power house.

Meanwhile, the tallest building in the Southern Province, the administrative building of the Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port will open next August, bringing all operations of the Port under one roof.

This 15-storey building complex will facilitate the administrative and engineering divisions of the Hambantota Port. Overlooking the Hambantota coastline, the building is situated inside the Port premises, within 500 metres from the docks.

Tanya and Suren Wickramasinghe are the architects of the project.

Administrative building of the Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port administrative building of the Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port

The oil tank farm too would be opened early next year. Bunkering facilities will comprise 14 tanks. Eight tanks will be used to provide oil for ships while three will be used to store LP Gas. The rest of the tanks will be used to provide oil for aircraft, to meet the demand created by the opening of the Mattala International Airport by the end of next year.

Looking back at 2011, the development highlight would be the opening of the Colombo-Galle Expressway, which would open new vistas in the local transport sector.

As Governor, Central Bank, Ajith Nivard Cabraal said, this, more than any thing else, proves that Sri Lanka too could do things that other developed countries could.

The promise of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was that this highway would be built up to Matara. Going a step further, now it is planned to extend the Expressway to Arugam Bay past the Hambantota Airport. This would be ready by 2015, in time to host the South Asian Federation Games in Hambantota. It would also help the rapid development in the area which includes the international harbour and the airport.

Meanwhile, land acquisitions up to Matara and over 40 percent of the bridges have been completed. In some areas, roads have also been laid. Unlike during the first segment of the Expressway up to Galle, people are now more positive and working is much easier, said Road Development Authority Chairman R.W.R. Premasiri.

Power plants


Colombo Harbour

The commissioning of the first phase of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, which adds 300 MW of electricity to the national grid, was opened by President Rajapaksa in 2011. It would be in a position to generate a unit of electricity at around Rs. 5. The second and third phases of the project, which would generate another 600MW of power, will become operational by 2013.

The first solar power plant in Sri Lanka, established in Baruthakanda, Hambantota, will add another 500 Kws to the national grid. The solar power plant has cost Rs. 412 million and the Korean Government has funded this project. The solar power plant will supply environment-friendly power to 3,000 families living in Hambantota.


Dutch Hospital Shopping complex

One of the much talked about projects during 2011, the Hambantota harbour project has today proved to be a viable venture.

The economic benefits of the Ruhunu Magampura Port is meant not only for Hambantota, but for the entire region. It is one of the single biggest development projects that would take the country closer towards becoming the Wonder of Asia even sooner than expected. The investment the country made on the Ruhunu Port was US$ 360 million and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has already secured investment proposals to the tune of over US$ 760 million, making the project bring returns on investment (ROI) to the country.

The harbour would create history when companies engaged in the investment zones start exporting sugar, fertiliser and cement to the Asian market with two Pakistan and Indian companies doing value additions there.

Chairman SLPA, Dr. Priyath Wickrama said that the Ruhunu Magampura Port would generate revenue of over one billion US dollars and over 2,000 employment opportunities within 24 months. The development of the Colombo South Harbour is being implemented under President Rajapaksa's vision of making Sri Lanka a shipping hub in the Asian region.

The agreement for one of the largest Foreign Direct Investments will strengthen Colombo's status as the premier shipping hub of South Asia into the 21st century.

Fisheries harbours

While the harbour network was developed, South Asia's largest fisheries harbour at Dickowita, Wattala will be opened next month. In a bid to assist the Eastern Province, President Rajapaksa built the Valaichchenai harbour at a cost of over Rs. 500 million which was opened last month. It could accommodate over 400 fishing vessels. The new harbour consists of fuel stations, ice storage facilities, refrigerators, deep freezers and anchorage.

The opening of the new fish market in Peliyagoda too was a landmark in the fishing sector last year. One of the icons in Colombo, the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Performing Arts Centre, built at a cost of Rs. 600 million, was opened last week, adding glamour to the city.

The development of Colombo too would continue and the abandoned and gloomy Race Course buildings are being refurbished, to be replaced with an upmarket shopping complex. This would be similar to the much talked about Dutch Hospital Shopping complex in Colombo Fort. The Ministry of Defence along with the Urban Development Authority is carrying out the designing and construction of this project, which is expected to be ready by next April. Several top department stores and restaurants have already expressed their desire to set up businesses.

Exploration for oil off the Mannar Basin has commenced with Cairn India been awarded rights to drill in Block M2 over the next few months. If Sri Lanka's drilling program is successful, then commercial oil production can be expected by 2014 with the capacity for a billion barrels. The development focus for the North and the East too continues with the Government spending over Rs. 2,000 million. Under the Uthuru Wasanthaya program, hospitals are being renovated, schools are being repaired and new buildings are being constructed.

Roads and bridges are being reconstructed and carpeted. Salt production at the Elephant Pass Saltern is to be commenced shortly.

Production at this saltern will save a considerable amount of foreign exchange now being spent on the import of salt.

While development work was in progress, the country also got its economic fundamentals right and maintained an average 8.3 percent growth rate in 2011 in the back drop of Western countries reporting an economic downturn.

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