Countries of the Global South are establishing their identity: President Ranil:

Committed to strong partnership with Sri Lanka: President Raisi:

The “Uma Diya Janani” multipurpose development project, marked as a significant irrigation initiative following the Mahaweli movement, was officially handed over to the public yesterday morning (24) by the Presidents of Iran and Sri Lanka. Iranian President Dr. Ibrahim Raisi, attending the event at President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s invitation, received a warm welcome.

During the ceremony, both leaders unveiled a commemorative plaque and inaugurated the project, initiating the operation of electricity generators through digital technology. President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed gratitude to Iran for their indispensable support, highlighting that without it, Sri Lanka couldn’t have diverted water from Uma Oya to Kirindi Oya. He emphasised Sri Lanka’s commitment to strengthening ties with Iran.

Reflecting on the shared aspirations of the Global South for their unique identity and independence, President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of solidarity among these nations.

“Iran’s technological prowess has spread across all fields. It should also be said that Iran is a country that maintains its own technological development. Therefore, we should strengthen the common points of both countries. We are all countries of the Global South. Such projects are very important at a time when the countries of the Global South are establishing their identity and independence,” President Wickremesinghe said.

President Ibrahim Raisi of Iran underscored that the project symbolises not only the friendship between Iran and Sri Lanka but also signifies enhanced co-operation, integration, harmony, and unity among Asian nations.

The President of Iran affirmed Iran’s readiness to foster a strong partnership with Sri Lanka and expressed Iran’s willingness to contribute to Sri Lanka’s progress and development through the provision of technical and engineering services for large-scale projects.

Iran’s President Dr. Ibrahim Raisi, accompanied by Iran’s First Lady Jamile Sadat Alamolhoda, arrived in Sri Lanka from the Mattala Airport yesterday morning (24) to attend the inauguration of the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project. Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and other Ministers welcomed the Iranian delegation.

President Raisi’s one-day official visit to Sri Lanka, at the special invitation of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, marks the first visit by an Iranian President since former Iranian President Mohammad Ahmadinejad’s visit in April 2008.

As part of his visit, the Iranian President left a commemorative message in the guest book at the Mattala International Airport.

The Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project (UOMDP) stands as a flagship initiative of national significance in Sri Lanka. Its primary aim is to divert approximately 145 million cubic meters (MCM) of excess water annually from the Uma Oya basin to the Kirindi Oya basin, addressing the issue of water scarcity in the South-Eastern dry zone without adverse effects on the environment or water sources.

This initiative will facilitate irrigation for around 4,500 hectares of new land and 1,500 hectares of existing agricultural land in the Moneragala district. Additionally, it will fulfil the drinking and industrial water requirements of Badulla, Moneragala, and Hambantota areas, providing approximately 39 million cubic meters (MCM) of water annually. Furthermore, the project will contribute to the national electricity supply by generating 290 gigawatt hours (290 GWh) of electrical capacity each year.

Key components of the project include the construction of two reservoirs, Puhulpola and Dayaraba, a 3.98 km connector tunnel linking the reservoirs, a 15.2 km main tunnel, an underground power plant, transmission lines, and associated infrastructure. The project was undertaken by Iran’s FARAB Engineering Company, with a total contract value of US$ 514 million and it commenced on March 15, 2010.

The Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) initially contributed US$ 50 million in funding until 2013. However, owing to international sanctions imposed on Iran, the EDBI was unable to continue its financial support for the project. Accordingly, the Government of Sri Lanka opted to advance the project using state funds in collaboration with the respective contractor, FARAB Company.

When the project commenced on March 15, 2010, it was originally slated for completion by March 15, 2015. However, various challenges arose, including technical issues such as unexpected water ingress into the Headrace tunnel, social impacts, financial obstacles, global crises like the Covid-19 pandemic during construction. Consequently, the completion date of the project has been extended to March 31, 2024, along with an extension of the warranty period until March 31, 2025. The basic phase of operations concluded in February and March 2024 while linking the units 01 and 02 to the national grid successfully. Trial operations were commenced on April 1, 2024.