Uma Oya project inaugurated


Iranian President Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi and President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (24) inaugurated the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project (UOMDP).

The Iranian leader arrived in Sri Lanka under tight security via the Mattala International Airport, where he was accorded a warm welcome by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

President Wickremesinghe invited Dr. Raisi though some interested parties are believed to have expressed concern over the move against the rising tensions in West Asia in the wake of tit-for-tat Iranian retaliation for the Israeli bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit in April 2008 was the last such by an Iranian President.

The Iranian-funded project would generate 120 MW of additional hydro power to Sri Lanka.

The Uma Oya Project, one of the major development projects in recent times, was initiated in 2007 when Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the President of Iran and Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan then Ambassador to Tehran (2006-2012)

M. M. Zuhair, PC successfully initiated discussions with Iranian authorities for an interest-free oil purchase package on deferred payment terms at the height of the war with the LTTE; another US $ 105 million Rural Electrification project, plus the Uma Oya multi-Purpose Project, initially estimated at US $ 450 Million, all of which were signed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he visited Tehran on 27/11/2007, and successfully concluded with the Oma Oya being the last to be completed.

Iranian President Dr. Ahmadinejad offered to modernise the oil refinery at Sapugaskanda when he paid a visit to Sri Lanka in 2008 but was not pursued by Sri Lanka following US sanctions imposed for the first time on the Iranian Central Bank with implications for Sri Lankan banks dealing with the Iranian Central Bank.

Iran and Sri Lanka signed five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) yesterday, aimed at further bolstering bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Presidential Secretariat said that the primary objective of the Uma Oya project is to alleviate water scarcity in the southeastern dry region of the country by redirecting an annual average of 145 million cubic meters of excess water from the Uma Oya basin to the Kirindi Oya basin.

As a result of this project, approximately 4,500 hectares of new land and 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural land in the Moneragala District would receive water, the Presidential Secretariat said, adding that Badulla, Moneragala, and Hambantota would benefit from 39 million cubic meters of water for drinking and industrial purposes, while generating and adding 290 GWh of electrical energy annually to the National Grid.

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