(Former Cabinet Minister and Sri Lanka Podu Jana Party Chairman Prof.G.L.Peiris has written a letter to the External Resources Division of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry Seeking Factual Information About the Moragahakanda Kaluganga Multi-purpose Development Project.The full text of the letter is as follows)
The Director General,
Department of External Resources,
Factual Information Regarding ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ Multipurpose Development Project
I wish to invite your attention to the remarks made by His ExcellencyPresident Maithripala Sirisena at the ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose irrigation project ceremony held on 23rdJuly 2018.As a citizen of Sri Lanka and alsoas Chairman of the Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna (SLPP) and Former Minister of External Affairsof the Government of Sri Lanka, Iam keen to know the factual position regarding the implementation of ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose project in the backdrop of these remarks. His Excellency the President declared to the public at thisceremony that the project implementation and financing was not done by the Department of External Resources and that the benefit of having access to water,particularly to the people in poverty-stricken districts, had been denied by the previous government.
As you are aware, I myself was a member of the Cabinet of that Government since 2007. I recall that the Cabinet on several occasions discussed many matters connected with theimplementation of this project along with several other irrigation projects carried out Islandwide. I also recall that Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had directed the Treasury to provide budgetary provision forthis project along with several irrigation projects to undertake preparatory work such as land acquisition, resettlement engineering designs consultancies etc. as irrigation development was a major priority under Mahinda Chinthana Development framework.
As part of my responsibility as Minister of External Affairs, I remember that I discussed foreign funding possibilities with the Ambassadors of Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the respective Foreign Ministers of these countries at the request of thenPresidentMahinda Rajapaksa to expedite implementation ofthe development project. I also recall that while the Government of Japan was not forthcoming with a positive response to ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose project, theGovernment of SaudiArabia agreed to fund the‘Kalu Ganga’ segment of this project. This was as far back as 2007. A positive funding response subsequently came from the China Development Bank with USD 300 million on 15-year term credit for the‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ segment of the project together with a 30 MW hydropower project in 2012.
As I have actively participated in the national budget debates in Parliament and keenly followed documents and reports submitted by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of External Resources in terms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2003, I remember this project had started well before 2010 along with several other projects such as‘Manik Ganga’ (completed in 2009) , ‘KiramaOya’ (completed in 2010), ‘Uma Oya’ multipurpose irrigation scheme (commencing 2009 with Iranian Fund), ‘DeduruOya’ (commencing 2006 and to be completed in 2012) and‘RambukkanOya’ (commencing 2007), ‘Moragahakanda’ and ‘Kalu Ganga’commencing 2007 and other preliminary work connected with ‘KumbukkanOya’, ‘YaanOya’, ‘HedaOya’, ‘North Central Main canal’ and ‘Gin’ and ‘Nilwala’. These projects had been regularly listed in the Annual reports of the Ministry of Finance and Planning in these years.
As I observe from page 247of the Annual Report of the Ministry of Finance and Planning for 2010 ‘Kalu Ganga’ development project had received USD 46 million from the Saudi Fund during 2010. According to the description of this project outline at page 272 of the same Annual report, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2014.On page 265 of the Annual report of 2012 of the Ministry of Finance andPlanning, it has been stated that government secured finance from China Development Bank (CDB) to implement ‘Moragahakanda’ development project in 2012. This project comprisesconstruction of main dam, saddle dam, spillway, intake structure to power house, and power transmission line as stated in the same Annual report. Thus,it is clear that theproject had started as early as 2007, funding had been secured from external sources, foreign loan agreements had been executed, contractors had been engaged and budgetary provision had been regularly made for successful conclusion of these projects. In fact, I am of the view that if not for the change of government in January 2015, Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga multipurpose irrigation project could have been commissioned in 2016 and downstream work could now be in progress.
I am also aware that my former colleague, the Honourable Nimal Siripala de Silva,then Minister of Irrigation, was constantly updating the Cabinet and in Parliament debates regarding the progress of implementation of these various irrigation projects Islandwide. ‘‘Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose project received considerable attentionin view of its multifaceted benefits to the Northern and Eastern areas of Sri Lanka.
It is in this background that I am bewildered by the remarks that His Excellency the President made regarding this important project,giving the impression that nothing has happened since 2006 under the previous government. This appears grossly misleading and factually incorrect. It is well accepted that this kind of complex project could take a much longer time to implement. Since the suspensionof this project under the UNP government in the mid-1980’s and during the entire period of the Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga Presidency, there was no initiative to start this project. This project could not have been a reality today if the previous government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa had not initiated project implementation as soon as he assumed the Presidency in 2005 and gave priority to infrastructure development in this country despite the war which ended in 2009.
In these circumstances I request the External Resources Department to clarify the factual position regarding external resource mobilization initiatives with respect to this project(including details of loan requests made by ERD and budgetary provisions made) in terms of the provisions of the Right to information Act. I am entitled to know the true position on this initiative to which I myself as a member of the previous Cabinet had contributed.
Prof. G. L. Peiris,
Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna
Former Minister of External Affairs