President Mahinda Rajapaksa will be opening today (Nov. 4) the Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project that has the longest underground tunnelling system with a length of 12.9 km and a diameter of 5.2 m.
With the aim of catering to the growing electricity demand, the construction work on the Upper Kotmale project which was once stalled is currently getting underway.
The project is targeted to generate 409 Gwh of electricity annually while the installed capacity is 150 Mw.
The dam will be constructed across the tributary of the Mahaweli River — the Kotmale Oya — and the length of the dam at 180 m with a height of 35.5m.
As a result of the Mahaweli Hydro development activities, the Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project concept was planned and with the assistance of the Government of Japan. Power Development plans were studied for 5 different locations in Sri Lanka. 2 plants which are economically and technically viable were deeply studied.
The underground power house has a 130 m long and 37m wide switch yard. The transmission line of the project is a 220 Kv line and 495 houses have been constructed by the project for the affected families.
As per the policy of the project new houses were given to all affected families while all the infrastructure facility such as water, electricity and developed access roads have also been provided. Further, an 80 m bridge was constructed across the Kotmale Oya at a total cost of Rs. 77 million. In the first plan a large reservoir project at Kelodonia area was proposed. The second plan contained a proposal to build a power plant at Thalawakele with a small dam and a reservoir. Of the 2 plans it was noted that the proposal relating to Thalawakele was the most feasible.
As per the provisions in the National Environment Act of 1998 the Environment clearance was granted to Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project.
Members of the displaced families are undergoing professional training to direct them towards self-employment. In addition, the people who are willing to start self employment will be provided concessionary loan facilities and consultancy services by the project.
To improve education facilities, a Central College in Thalawakele has been established. In addition, new buildings were constructed in place of affected temple, churches, day care centres, playgrounds with common facilities. In addition to the community centre shops, film halls, and libraries too have been constructed.
The overall progress of this final and largest hydro project is 75%. This environmentally friendly upper Kotmale project will be commissioned by 2011 and the electricity generated from the project will promote the development of the country.