In a letter to the Director General, Department of External Resources, Professor G. L. Peiris, who is also the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, has requested information on the factual position regarding the implementation of the project in the backdrop of the President’s remarks.
“His Excellency the President declared to the public at this ceremony 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,” the former Minister said.
He however said that on several occasions the former cabinet discussed many matters connected with the implementation of the project along with several other irrigation projects carried out Islandwide.
He also said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had directed the Treasury to provide budgetary provision for the 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 the 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 then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to expedite implementation of the development project. I also recall that while the Government of Japan was not forthcoming with a positive response to ‘Moragahakanda Kalu Ganga’ multipurpose project, the Government of Saudi Arabia 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,” he said.
Peiris said that as he has 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, he remembers the project had started well before 2010 along with several other projects.
“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,” he said.
He requested the External Resources Department to clarify the factual position regarding external resource mobilization initiatives with respect to the project (including details of loan requests made by ERD and budgetary provisions made) in terms of the provisions of the Right to information Act.