CWC to protest against Upper Kotmale Project

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 June 2003, 11:31 GMT]
Housing and Estate Infrastructure Minister and President of Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Arumugam Thondaman, said Wednesday that CWC is organizing a protest rally calling for the abandonment of the Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project on the 23 June in Nuwareliya District, according to local reports.

"Prime Minister Ranil Wickermesinghe and Asgiriya Malwatte Mahanayake Theras have clearly articulated the dangers and destruction posed to the environment and people of Nuwareliya by this hydro power project. The Prime Minister has assured us that he will not allow the project to be carried out. However, there are forces trying to initiate the project clandestinely. The Ministry trying to restart the project will bear responsibility to the damages," said Mr. Thondaman.

Thondaman called on all working for the upliftment of the hill country Tamils to join in the one-day work stoppage and protest, reports said.

Upper Kotmale is a 150 MW plant hydropower project proposed by Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) which is a Government Agency responsible for generation of electricity in Sri Lanka. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project was submitted for approval of the Ministry of Irrigation Power and Energy in December 1994 and Central Environmental Authority was the concurrent agency. The project was approved in 1998.

Protestors point out the following defects in the project and demand cancellation.
  • Destruction of waterfalls, mainly St Clair Major, St Clair Minor, Devon and decrease of water to Ramboda, Puna and Pundal waterfalls,
  • Possible earth slides in the region where it is proposed to construct 22 kilometre long tunnels to bring water from Ramboda Oya, Puna Oya, Devon Oya and Pundal Oya.
  • Damage to the lifestyle of the people at Talawakele which will be submerged partially
  • Heavy soil erosion of the area (it is estimated that 15% of the reservoir will be filled annually)
  • Drying up of about a 30 km long downstream stretch of the rivers and its impacts on the fauna and flora and the water users.
  • Design uncertainties such as lack of flash flood area.
  • Lack of proper plan for the relocation of about 600 families.

 

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