3 March, 2024

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Inaugurating A New Political Culture With The Uma Oya Project

By Mahinda Rajapaksa

Mahinda Rajapaksa

The 120 MW hydro power plant of the Uma Oya project is to become operational this month. It will be one of the largest hydro power plants in the country after the Victoria, Kotmale and Upper-Kotmale power stations and will provide Sri Lanka with a badly needed source of low-cost electricity. The construction of this project to divert water from the central highlands to the south-eastern dry zone commenced in March 2010. When infrastructure projects that had been discussed and planned over many decades but no government had been able to actually implement, began to be built during my tenure as President, envious individuals denigrated these achievements by saying that the cost estimates of these projects had been inflated by members of my government in order to make money.

Even though evidence of such malpractices have never been placed before the public, an entire generation has grown up believing that anybody who inaugurates a large scale project is a thief.  When such propaganda gains traction, those with the capacity to do something for the country get labelled as villains while those with no capacity to do anything except to talk, criticize and lie, become heroes. If there is evidence of corruption in project implementation, having that evidence examined is one thing, but making politically motivated accusations without any evidence, works against the national interest by demotivating governments and leaders from initiating even essential large scale projects.

It was fortunate that during my nine year tenure from 2006 to 2014, I was able to clear a decades long backlog of planned but unimplemented projects for highways, power generation, irrigation etc., that successive governments had been dreaming of since the 1950s. My government also carpeted the roads, built and improved hospitals and schools, and built new housing for the urban poor. So the work done at that time would last some years. However, this is now the tenth year since I ceased to be President, and new investment is needed especially in areas like low cost electricity generation to meet industrial and service sector needs.

The operationalization of the Uma Oya project offers Sri Lanka a unique opportunity to inaugurate a new political culture in this country – one that welcomes and appreciates the contribution made by major infrastructure projects for the wellbeing of the people. The two main political parties that have ruled the country since 1948 have made their contributions to the development of the existing infrastructure of the country over several decades. However, the Uma Oya project is the only major infrastructure project to which even the anti-establishment Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has contributed positively.

Before my government commenced the construction of the Uma Oya project, it had been under discussion for more than fifty years under various governments. The diversion of the Uma Oya was first mooted in 1959 in a study carried out by the United States Operations Mission and the Canadian Hunting Survey Corporation. It also featured in the UNDP/FAO Master Plan for the Mahaweli project during the Dudley Senanayake Government and was the subject of further studies carried out under the Ranasinghe Premadasa and Chandrika Kumaratunga governments. The decision to implement the Uma Oya project was taken when Messrs. Karu Jayasuriya and Jayawickrema Perera held the portfolios of power and energy and irrigation during the UNP government of 2001-2004.

Despite all this, when my government began constructing this project which had been on the drawing boards for more than half a century, my political opponents alleged that I had started the Uma Oya project to divert water to Hambantota to irrigate land in my village. After the project got off the ground, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna became the most outspoken critic of the Uma Oya project, and spearheaded opposition to it at the ground level with its leader stating in Parliament that this project had been initiated to divert water to the Hambantota port and airport to realize the dreams of the Rajapaksas. This was a part of a blind and unthinking effort to deny the government led by me any political credit for successes achieved.

Yet in January 2005, it was the present leader of the JVP as the then Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Land and Irrigation who obtained Cabinet approval to commence the Uma Oya project. His Cabinet Paper No: 05/0036/039/002 of 4 January 2005 stated among other things that in the absence of a reliable source of water in the south east dry zone in Sri Lanka, there is no alternative but to divert water from Uma Oya to that area. Former Minister Chamal Rajapaksa played a key role in getting this project off the ground.

Since this is the only major infrastructure project to which even the anti-establishment JVP has contributed positively, the operationalization of the Uma Oya project presents us with a unique opportunity to reset the political culture of this country by firstly, acknowledging and celebrating the benefit to the country from such projects and secondly, by giving due recognition and appreciation to the government that actually manages to turn such plans into a reality by obtaining the funding and constructing the project.

*Mahinda Rajapaksa M.P. – Leader of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna 

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Latest comments

  • 13
    0

    Had Dudley Senanayake written this essay during his tenure I would have read it with awe and admiration.
    I cant even force myself,with all effort to acknowledge the contents of this MaRa essay…………

  • 10
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    If only all of this was the whole truth, what a country we would have!. And you would still be President.

  • 13
    1

    “during my nine year tenure from 2006 to 2014, I was able to clear a decades long backlog of planned but unimplemented projects for highways, power generation, irrigation etc., that successive governments had been dreaming of since the 1950s”
    Ah, yes of course. But let us not talk about how you paid for all those projects, and let us not even think about your dear Malli’s tragically short-lived glory.

  • 5
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    Looks like Mahinda is already conceding even before contesting.
    .
    A desperate attempt.
    .
    A call for help.
    .
    Trying to reach out to JVP/NPP…
    .
    … to save them….
    .
    It’s too late….

  • 9
    2

    Mahinda, buddy ………. can you just cut the crap and die ….. and take your pal Ranil with you …….. as far away from Lanka as possible?

    Thanks.

  • 5
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    My government also carpeted the roads, built and improved hospitals and schools, and built new housing for the urban poor.

    If all good work is done how did the country go bakrupt
    Election is coming the Tax talk is not spoken, Every four years we go through the same cycle of hope and disillusionment.

  • 5
    1

    The political self-indulgence of Rajapaksa with the backing of Sinhala_Buddhist racists destroyed the dreams of the youth.
    The beast of the nation, none other than Mahendra Rajapakshe (as it is read in his DOB certificate) will never be able to close his eyes when he thinks alone about the extent of the damage he has deliberately caused to this helpless nation.

    After 30 or more years of brutal civil war, the country are now short of leaders.
    As a rape victim will have to face all the unexpected problems in the society and his or her future life, Srilanka’s state is nowgetting worse day by day. There are no experts or they are not welcome by its MLECHCHA MEDIA WHORE HOUSES to feed the puublic with facts yet today because a large portion of people are wild (rascals and pro-Rajapakshe beasts) and they hardly respect the predictions of experts.

    tbc

    • 4
      1

      cont.
      ..
      Today, the sinking nation is more or less struggling to meet the unbearable cost of living. Some do not even talk about the decrease in their income level. Some are more aggressive and move. Others refrain from expressing their hearts.

      On the one hand, the people who voted for him two or three times must have thought that the carpenter, whose did good carpentry work could have been quite acceptable, to do the job of an engineer. MaRa et al never respected what he could and couldn’t do.
      By the end of 2019, he was forced to believe that the Rajapaksa brothers could fix it.

      Who backed them blind ? Safronists led groups…. they are today blind and deaf. even that high chapter HAMUDURUWO who loudly asked GOTA to become a HITLER, behaves today like a beaten dog hiding his tail behind the rear legs.

      tbc

      • 4
        1

        cont.
        .
        6.9 million out of 15 million voter eligible must be blind to think so. Almost in the most literate BUDESLAND of SRLANKA , which is Western Province, people believed in uneducated rascals.

        It was a ripple effect misguided by fake public perception. Who built it in that society? (Sinhala Buddhism which is not the buddhism as buddha taught it).
        Artists tamed by the Rajapaksa mantra for their livelihood, media fraudsters of the Dilit Jayaweera and Reno Silva nature, all these should be able to reveal the truth to the suffering nation today.

        These men would rape even their own mothers if they were given collossal amounts of blackmoney. If olevel studying school chidren would question, how would economy teachers explain to them ?
        how would some become untouchably wealthy in srilanka without having any provable business records?
        Rajapakshe, the beasts of the nation, should respond to the nation.

        • 5
          1

          LM,
          “Sinhala Buddhism which is not the Buddhism as Buddha taught it.”
          You are absolutely on the Money, No questions or Doubt!!??
          The Latter was founded 2600+ years ago!!
          The Former, would not have been Born until 800+ CE or at most 1000 CE!!?? They are 2 different edicts!! Cannot be same and is not!!! May be attributable to the Faults in Translation from Prakrit – Old Tamil – to Sinhala, when that language became fully fledged to accommodate Gautama The Buddha’s Holistic Views!!! Anything other than, at the worst may be considered to meet Modern Day Convenience!!! E.g. Dazzling Electric Lights, instead of the artistically fashioned “Thel Pahana” The reason for demanding cover cost of excessive use of electricity, hard to come-by due Drought!?

      • 3
        1

        IF THE TAIL STILL REMAINS!!! HUNGER DEVOURS ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN SIGHT, EVEN ANIMALS’ TAIL!!!???

  • 9
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    Mahinda old pal
    I am truly impressed. You are indeed the greatest visionary leader SL ever had. Just one little question, though. Have any of your mega projects ever paid dividends to date? Your port had to be leased back to the Chinese because we couldn’t keep up with the payments. They must be having a laugh, for us to pay the cost & for them to reap the benefits. Then there is the airport built in the middle of a bird sanctuary which I believe was last used to store grain. Are enough planes coming there now, at least, to cover the cost of running an airport? By the way, are the Chinese taking a cut from the tolls of the highway you built, which, apparently, was the highest paid per mile in construction. The Hambanthota hospital is fantastic. Wonder what happened to the law suit by the Aussie govt. against the constructors for allegedly bribing to get the tender. The list can go on but I am sure your lotus pillar, the highest, I believe in SE Asia, will be a lasting monument for you, the man who saved the country from the Tamils from India & restored Buddhism, just like Dutugamunu & his Ruwanvalisaya.
    Whatever your achievements, the bottom line is, you & your dumb brother touted as a tough military strategist, f****d up the country & the poor citizens are paying the price.

    • 2
      2

      Thanks, Raj-UK,
      .
      You’ve expressed that part of it well, and with feeling.
      .
      I’m going to follow up with observations as a resident of the Badulla District. That will possibly get separated from this comment, and I wish it to be so!
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

    • 3
      2

      Raj – UK,
      WHY ALL THIS TROUBLE!!!??? WRITING ESSAYS!!!???
      Emigrant Visa Prerequisite – AKA, 1971-77 as ‘EXIT VISAS’ – Police report confirming NO Existing Culpable Sustainable complaint of all-inclusive, the Family, Aides, Friends and Allies!!?? Action it straight away and the problem are solved for all time!!? They could enjoy Wildlife SANCTUARY style comfort in Uganda!!!
      Prior to that and precondition, repatriate all funds held in Overseas accounts – Black Money, leaving out the Business of “Cafe Ceylon”!!??
      Poetic Justice, some may wonder!!! 3 centuries previously, DD who was Migrant from Sarawak, Malaysia came to be domiciled in Giruwapattu and became established within 3 Generations as the Predominant Family, synonymous with Medmulana and Deep South – Ruhuna!!!
      Sadly, they may have to uproot themselves for another Home, further Eastwards in this world!!! Sarawak, Malaysia, Hambantota, Ceylon and Uganda in Africa!!!
      Wish them all – SUBA ANAGATHAYAK WEWA”!!??

  • 4
    2

    Raj – UK,
    WHY ALL THIS TROUBLE!!!??? WRITING ESSAYS!!!???
    Emigrant Visa Prerequisite – AKA, 1971-77 as ‘EXIT VISAS’ – Police report confirming NO Existing Culpable Sustainable complaint of all-inclusive, the Family, Aides, Friends and Allies!!?? Action it straight away and the problem are solved for all time!!? They could enjoy Wildlife SANCTUARY style comfort in Uganda!!!
    Prior to that and precondition, repatriate all funds held in Overseas accounts – Black Money, leaving out the Business of “Cafe Ceylon”!!??
    Poetic Justice, some may wonder!!! 3 centuries previously, DDR who was Migrant from Sarawak, Malaysia came to be domiciled in Giruwapattu and became established within 3 Generations as the Predominant Family, synonymous with Medmulana and Deep South – Ruhuna!!!
    Sadly, they may have to uproot themselves for another Home, further Eastwards in this world!!! Sarawak, Malaysia, to Hambantota, Ceylon and Uganda, Africa!!!
    Wish them all – SUBA ANAGATHAYAK WEWA”!!??

  • 0
    0

    PART ONE
    .
    Mahinda Rajapaksa’s over-view
    of what he claims to have done is utterly superficial.
    .
    There’s the immense damage that he did to the people of the area; he’s probably hoping that we will forget.
    .
    Every mega project causes some hardship, and then we reap the benefits; in this instance he claims that hydro-electricity is produced. He probably hopes that the people, in a sense, have recovered, and the hardships forgotten. MaRa is a consummate, corrupt and selfish politician; what I’m giving you may be amateurish. I have little knowledge of mega development projects.
    .
    This was always a hare-brained scheme. True that there was excess water on the slopes of Nuwara-Eliya down to Welimada, but the North and the North-East also needed water. The potential energy of water at a high level was known, and it was always possible to launch a more rational scheme to generate electricity.
    .
    Now, let’s settle to maintain what we never wanted.

  • 0
    0

    PART TWO
    .
    The one time JVP Parliamentarian who high-lighted the damage done to the environment here is still with us; Samantha Vidyaratne, leader of the Party in the Uva Province. I have never had much personal affection for him – he sounds so bitter much of the time. See what I mean:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jga_4-4jS7k
    සෙන්කඩගල ගැහැනුන් සිනා සයුරේ ගිල්වූ කතාව | Samantha Vidyarathne | 2024.02.10 – a very recent example of Vidyaratne’s style
    .
    Only just sampled that. I haven’t yet met him; I must because he’s significant, although not my favourite orator.
    .
    However, what set me thinking seriously about the Uma Oya Project was what this man, then unknown to me, had said.
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/only-class-action-can-bring-justice-to-uma-oya-project-victims/
    .
    That 2017 article has stuck in my mind, and I hope that all readers will refresh their memories. I have got to know the author very well by now – that’s how much impression the article made on me.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

  • 1
    0

    PART THREE
    .
    The ground directly below my house was not affected, but the wells that ran dry remain bereft of water. Some houses were abandoned, but after the ground had finally settled, some were re-built. Water? Some expensive (perhaps not “mega” projects) have been launched, to bring drinking water, but not water for agriculture. Our country receives bountiful rain, so there are green trees again, but nothing like the food production that we had here before this lunacy.
    .
    MaRa’s main subject here has been The Uma Oya Project, but he hasn’t been able to resist saying something about Roads. Yes, when we traverse the main roads we are happy, but at what expense? To find out, Google “ Professor Amal Kumarage exposés on Highways”.
    .
    What I will refer to are my own more modest observation of some rarely used rural roads, when I take them. They lead nowhere, really, and then one realises that just before losing in 2015, he got lots of minor roads carpeted. Why? For a range of “commissions” to favourite contractors, and to his party politicians.
    .
    How to get it all back? It won’t be easy, but the next government must try.

  • 3
    0

    Well the heading should be ”Inaugurating A New Political Culture with the Racial motivation & Tyrony”, that is where you are an expert at, that is what you did for the country.

    We all can see why you are shedding crocadile tears and spewing lies. Just to reap the grass feeding voters mandate. Good luck

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