History[ edit ] The dam under construction in The project was initially planned in by the local authorities, before the Government of Japan funded a study between and to further examine the hydroelectric potential in the upper reaches of Kotmale River. The feasibility study included five sites and eight alternative development schemes, and concluded with two sites which were more technically and economically feasible. The two sites were a conventional type at Caledonia , and a run-of-the-river type at Talawakele. The project at Caledonia involved the displacement of over 2, families and inundation of large areas of land used for tea plantations , and thus the Caledonia site was dropped.
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Clair Water Fall. Could we say the same thing about the feasibility of the Upper Kotmale Hydropower Project? Water is to be harnessed from seven tributaries, Devon oya, St. The diversions would be above the waterfalls. The waterfalls will dry up, for which the CEB has offered to release a little water from time to time! The water is to be collected into a "pond" built at Talawakele, and from there taken by a 13 Km. Since then there has been many protests, which have been able to delay its commencement.
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. Design uncertainties such as lack of flash flood area. Lack of proper plan for the relocation of about families. Kothmale in the Evening. This credit has to be paid back by our children and their children, who would never have the opportunity to see these wonderful waterfalls and the breathtaking beauty of the region, and they would be paying for a Hydropower project which probably would not be generating any electricity at the rate we are destroying our forest cover.
As is usual with most foreign credit, Japan would be funding a Project which they would never have approved in their own country, where they hold waterfalls as sacred places and they value their environment more than most other people.
But they would not mind destroying waterfalls in another country. The other contradiction is that JBIC also funds afforestation and sustainable environmental management projects in other countries, perhaps they want to grant another loan some day to Sri Lanka to rebuild the environment they are going to destroy through the UKHP. We should try to negotiate with JBIC to get this funding for the desilting and regaining the maximum generation capacity from the existing projects and for ways and means of power saving and reducing wastage.
There has been no attempt to try to learn from the mistakes made over the years. In addition to the heavy financial burden of repaying all the foreign loans raised for these projects, and the disaster caused to the environment and the forest cover, the human suffering caused by these projects cannot be valued.
People who were uprooted from their ancestral homes, where they were earning a reasonable livelihood and contributing to the national economy by their agriculture and animal husbandry, were re-located in arid, desolate, recently cleared jungle land, with a promise of heaven on earth.
But all they inherited was a waterless desert, without even the basic facilities of health care transport education or other social services. The author walking through the dried up Kothamale resovior. The promised prosperity from increased agriculture has not yet materialized. The production is decreasing, because every year the amount of water stored in the reservoirs keep diminishing.
The people in power bragged that Sri Lanka would be exporting electricity to India after the Mahaweli Project is completed, yet a few years ago the people faced 9 hour power cuts, when it was blamed on dependence on Hydro power. The country was informed that the long term solutions to our power needs cannot be found in hydro power but in alternate thermal power.
This was when they wanted to promote coal power. Over , people have already been displaced by the irrigation and hydro power projects in Sri Lanka. Already 13 families were displaced from Kotmale when the Kotmale Project was done. Today, the Kotmale reservoir does not collect sufficient water to generate power even for six months a year. Now the Upper Kotmale Project is to be considered, knowing very well that it would have the same fate.
Over the last few decades over 50 million people around the world had been displaced due to construction of dams. They are the people who are more dependent on natural resources. When such resources are degraded they suffer the most. Not the affluent and the over privileged, who are the people who promote such projects. A very small percentage of people consume a very large percentage of electricity generated.
Those who promote UKHP warn people of power cuts. Power cuts too affect the city people and the most effluent, who cannot survive without their airconditioning, television, music, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dish washers and every thing else. The immediate benefits of projects like UKHP will be to the politicians, the contractors and the businessmen, while the long term benefits would be to the over-priveiledged. It would be the poor people who would be paying for it, while suffering all the adverse effects of such projects.
The carrot that is dangled before the public by promoters of hydro power by exploiting our water resources is that even though the initial investment of the project is high, after the completion of the project the power generated is almost free, that there is no more major running costs. What they do not tell the people, and sometimes they themselves do not realize is the cost of maintaining the reservoirs.
The cost of desilting is ignored, and desilting is not carried out, which would result in decreasing storage capacity, and the expected return on the investment is reduced year by year. The environment cost of stopping the silt from reaching the sea is also ignored.
Fishing where there houses used to stand. In China the Laoying reservoir silted up even before the dam was completed, and Sanmenxia dam had to be rebuilt after two years because of silting up.
When compared to the Three Gorges Project and the destruction it would cause, UKHP appears so small, but the concerns are the same, whether it is the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada, the Three Gorges on the Yangtze, or the Pangue and Ralco projects on the Biobio We have also ask ourselves why the developed countries, who are offering us funds, technology and free advice about building of dams and major hydropower projects, have almost given up such projects in their own countries, under pressure from environmental groups.
The environmental protection laws in the developed countries are very strict, but such laws do not apply to companies in these countries, who bid for projects in the third world. It could be because there is a slump in their own markets that they are pushing their products to poor countries. Jawaharlal Nehru called the large dams "Shrines of our time". Throughout history they could also be called "monuments to corruption" References:.
Hydropower Project – Kotmale
Upper Kotmale Hydro power plant