Regaining Sri Lanka
Physical infrastructure Development Plan
The current government was elected in December 2001. The immediate priority was to seek a solution to the twenty-year-old ethnic conflict and to repair a severely damaged economy.

A Permanent Ceasefire Agreement was signed on February 24, 2002 and has held to date. Meanwhile the economy has gone from negative growth of -1.5% in 2001 to +5.5% growth anticipated for the current year.

Fiscal control of the economy along with a comprehensive economic reform programme is starting to show positive signs of improvement. Nevertheless twenty years of ethnic conflict have destroyed large parts of the country. Elsewhere, lack of investment and deteriorating infrastructure have impaired the chances of a fast recovery.

It is with this backdrop that the Government has developed the 'Regaining Sri Lanka' programme. The need for a flexible evolutionary programme will see some projects maturing quickly whilst others will require more detailed and comprehensive planning.

The 'Regaining Sri Lanka' programme is more than just infrastructural changes. It is about rebuilding lives and rehabilitating the people of the North and East, after the ethnic conflict.

It envisages massive changes to the educational and social structures of the country as well as reforms in the political and administrative cultures. Nonetheless, the immediate need has been for long life infrastructural changes to be planned and developed.

The Government of Sri Lanka is due to publish a consultation document and map which outlines many of these projects. The document is incomplete in as far as the planning needs for the North and the East have still to be considered.
This can only be done when a proper consultation process can be established. Nevertheless this Executive Summary outlines the broad thrust of those projects which have been identified.

By a special correspondent
The need for accelerated development in Sri Lanka is essential. Without peace, uninterrupted development will not occur. Nor can development happen without international support both for the peace process and for development projects.
Nevertheless, the desire for development should not override the uniqueness of Sri Lanka, its countryside, its history, its culture and its biodiversity.

In preparing the Physical Infrastructure Development Plan, the Government has been mindful of the requirement to balance environmental needs with human needs.
In some regions environmental needs require eco-sensitive tourism and development of agriculture. In other regions industrial development is planned with maximum job potential whilst seeking minimum environmental impact.

Roads and highways
There are no major, fast transit highways in Sri Lanka. Travel across the country is slow and often on badly maintained narrow roads. Nearly three quarters of the economic activity of the country are limited to the Western Province where only one quarter of the population lives. Lack of a proper highway system has resulted in low economic activity and severe poverty.

The Asian Highway: The Government is planning a major programme of highway development. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has prepared detailed plans for 'The Asian Highways' which will link all the major Asian capital cities, important economic centres, industrial centres and international container terminals.

As part of The Asian Highway, Sri Lanka will construct approximately 1,200 km of highway. The highway network will link India and Sri Lanka by a land bridge approximately 30 km in length and with road and rail links. From the land bridge the highways network will loop around the major urban centres including Jaffna, Trincomalee and Mannar in the North and East. Then to Kandy in the Central Province, the capital Colombo on the west coast and down to Galle, Matara and Hambantota in the south before looping up to Batticaloa on the east coast. The Colombo to Matara highway is already under construction with two other highways in the final stages of planning.

Calculations of the number of jobs to be created are difficult but on initial phase construction work are likely to be approximately 25,000. The number of jobs resulting from improved economic activity is substantial and will certainly meet the 2 million 'Regaining Sri Lanka' envisioned figures within ten years.

Existing roads network: In addition to the highway development programme, there is a separate programme to repair and upgrade the current road system. Since much of the road system was built more than 50 years ago, repairs and rebuilding of bridges, conduits as well as resurfacing or total reconstruction are needed. A total of 19,330 km are in need of urgent rehabilitation. Meanwhile, the local authority network of roads which includes unclassified gravel and tarred roads (often linking small remote villages) with some 64,658 km of roads is also in need of repair and upgrading. Since many of those working on these roads are locally employed, the prospects for job creation nationwide are substantial.

Ports and airports
The Port of Colombo is the transhipment hub for South Asia. Colombo services only some 20% of the Indian sub-continent container throughput market. About 70% of container volume handled by Colombo is transhipment volumes for the Indian sub-continent.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka lies strategically in the middle of the Indian Ocean with the main East/West shipping lanes running just to the south of the island. With such a strategic advantage to be realised the Physical Infrastructure Development Plan has identified a number of growth areas.

Colombo Port: An outer harbour known as the South Harbour Development is close to construction stage. This will allow deep draught capability in order to handle large vessels and substantially improve the transhipment capabilities of Colombo.

Hambantota Seaport Development: In the far south of the island, a new port site has been identified. The development of this site will bring a service, container and industrial port into an area of high unemployment and great poverty. The proposals for the port area include a refinery, petrochemical related industries, a coal powered thermal power station and a desalination plant. Anticipated job opportunities based around this new port will exceed 25,000.

Trincomalee Harbour: The development potential of this deep water port is enormous. In the North-East of the country, Trincomalee has the opportunity to develop into the third largest port in Sri Lanka.

Other port developments on a smaller but significant economic scale will include Oluvil on the East coast, historic Galle Harbour with the tourist potential for a yacht marina and Kankesanthurai and Point Pedro ports in the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Colombo International Airport: It was, at one time, developing into an important hub for the South Asia region. With the ethnic conflict that commanding position was lost. Today Bandaranaike International Airport is going through a renaissance. Completion of a new terminal capable of accepting the new Airbus A380, a new extension with 8 gate lounges and 10 aero bridges handling 5 million passengers should be realised by 2005. In addition, cargo handling will increase to 250,000 tons per annum. Two other important airports are planned.

Wellawaya Airport: It will stimulate the tourism industry further in the southeast of the country. This will be close to four major tourism projects and two major industrial projects. Matugama Airport: A similar airport sited close to the Southern Express Highway will allow considerable growth for industrial complexes, export oriented industries as well as a new Air Force base.

Ratmalana Airport: Currently a domestic and Air Force site, the new airport will become a major repair and cargo handling centre. Development of the airport will also be linked to a new industrial complex concentrating on warehousing, software, gem and jewellers, food processing as well as export oriented plant nurseries and ornamental fish aquariums.

Industrial complexes
The job creation potential from industrial complexes is enormous. The Government of Sri Lanka has looked carefully at potential growth and has identified a number of sites for development.

Many of these sites are linked to the development of existing cities including Colombo, Kandy, Trincomalee and Jaffna. In addition to these, will be the new Southern Special Economic Zone which will concentrate on ICT and agricultural related industries as well as more traditional industrial complexes. Close to the new Wellawaya Airport and just north of the new Hambantota port, this industrial centre will revive the fortunes of the southeastern corner of Sri Lanka.

In addition, there will be a major complex at Keragala/Henagama to the northeast of Colombo approximating 313 acres of land available for industrial purposes. Direct employment opportunities on this site have been identified as around 12,000 with indirect employment estimated at 20,000.

Job opportunities around the Biyagama Phase II IPZ will exceed 40,000. Further development of three existing sites in the north-central and central districts should see further employment opportunities for about 2,500 people.

Industrial development requires power and a number of hydroelectric power stations are planned linked to water development projects. In addition, a major coal fired power station is planned probably in Trincomalee as well as the power station and oil refinery based around the new Hambantota port.

Water has always been a major issue in Sri Lanka. Irrigation has been vital for the establishment of secure farming operations, the development of reservoirs has given the island much needed hydro-electric power whilst flooding as a result of poor protection measures has resulted in untold misery for thousands of people.
Menik Ganga Basin: The Menik Ganga (River) Basin is one of the least developed basins in Sri Lanka with over 50% of the land still undeveloped. The basin in the southeast of the country will provide a new reservoir which will supply much needed irrigation water in the dry season as well as fresh clean drinking water for the local population.

Uma Oya Diversion Project: To the east and north of the country the river has a catchment area of 600 sq km. Three projects related to this river are planned. They include a power station generating 312 GWh, additional irrigation water for about 5,000 hectares of land as well as a trans-basin development to the Menik Ganga.
Additional irrigation schemes planned in seven areas of the country will provide irrigation for 258,000 acres of land mostly for paddy. Some 30,929 farmer families will benefit from these projects.

Kalu Ganga Basin: Earlier this year the world witnessed horrific scenes in the south of Sri Lanka as a result of severe flooding. The Government has plans to relieve two important flood prone areas. These include the Kalu Ganga Basin around Ratnapura and Kalutara.

Kelani Ganga: The second important area is the Kelani Ganga just to the north of Colombo. The building of new reservoirs along with improvements to the flood bunds will protect the city of Colombo and surrounding areas. The building of a number of small and medium reservoirs in Kelaniya and Kalu Ganga will create about 3,000 new jobs.

Mahaweli Projects: The Mahaweli River Basin has been a source of employment and development for many thousands of families in the North-Central, Central and Eastern Provinces. Many small but important programmes are planned for this important area. They include irrigation, rehabilitation of canals, tanks, roads, construction of small reservoirs (tanks), de-silting of tanks, construction of agro-wells and stabilising of river banks. About 75,000 families will benefit from these projects.

Urban development
Four major development projects are underway in the Development plan. Issues addressed in all of these include housing and industrial development; detailed urban planning measures expecting substantial growth. Water management includes storm water management, drinking water, sewerage and treatment plants. Issues such as solid waste management, new towns centres, daily fairs (dina pola), office and commercial complexes, new roads, prisons and police complexes as well as cultural centres are all earmarked.

Western Region Megapolis: A new 2030 vision for the Western region around Colombo is currently being developed. Final detailed plans will be unveiled in mid-2004. This is a two stage plan with two datelines of 2010 and 2030 leading to a population of 8.5 million people by the latter date.

The development plan works towards a regional financial and business hub with strong manufacturing centres and ICT corridors. It also expects to see a much enlarged Colombo Port and new infrastructure.

The Colombo core will be a financial, business, transportation and administrative hub. An inner necklace will consist of a technology corridor with four sub-regional centres as satellite towns on the fringe of the city. The outer necklace will consist of an industrial corridor with five Regional Centres as growth catalysts for new towns.

The whole Megapolis will be linked by a modern transport and logistic spine linking industrial, business, port and airport through road, rail and metro links. Construction jobs around the new capital are expected to exceed 25,000.

In addition to the work on the new capital, there are detailed plans being drawn up for the cities of Kandy where growth is anticipated up to 500,000 population, Trincomalee where development will be centred around the port complex and a new industrial area, Jaffna where plans still have to be drawn up in consultation with local residents and Galle where a new cultural and tourism centre based around the Fort area is planned.
In addition to these cities, a detailed plan is being drawn up for the cultural, religious and archaeologically sensitive city of Anuradhapura.

In the past year tourism has seen rapid development in Sri Lanka. With the on-going ceasefire, job numbers in tourism, both direct and indirect, have increased by nearly one hundred thousand.

The Government is planning for a massive increase in the number of tourists coming to the island. As part of that major project, tourism is expected to grow in a number of important areas.

On the west coast, development of the coastline south of Colombo and down to the city of Galle will continue. North of Colombo on the west coast a new tourism centre around Puttalam and Kalpitiya will be developed. Unspoilt coral reefs will attract new offshore tourism potential. In the same area the Wilpattu National Park, closed for the past twenty years due to the war will add further opportunities.

On the east coast the length of coastline from Trincomalee to Oluvil will be developed. With some of the finest beaches in the world, exceptional windsurfing at Arugambay and deep sea fishing and whale spotting off the coast the tourism potential is substantial. All of this area is undeveloped due to the ethnic conflict and will result in substantial job opportunities.

Inland three areas have been identified for further tourism growth. They include Bandarawela and Badulla where eco-tourism and nature tourism will be developed. Soft trekking, camping, mountain climbing and mountain biking as well as development of the national parks will all be encouraged.

Development of the canals in Sri Lanka as well as the new religious tourism site of Kataragama will provide unique tourism opportunities. The fortified city of Galle will be redeveloped as a major cultural tourism centre as well as the hill country spot of Maskeliya.

Over the next few months the Government of Sri Lanka will roll out additional plans for the further development of Sri Lanka. Work has begun on a number of these important projects and new jobs are already being created. As the peace process continues, increased interest in inward investment is encouraging, as are the numbers of additional tourists coming to the island. With peace will come development, jobs and prosperity for an island whose people have suffered poverty for too long.

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