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
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.
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
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.
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