Physical infrastructure Development
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the Physical Infrastructure Development Plan, the Government has
been mindful of the requirement to balance environmental needs with
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.