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Sri Lanka, Iran ink five agreements to strengthen bilateral ties

By: Staff Writer

April 25, Colombo (LNW): Iran and Sri Lanka on Wednesday (24) signed five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), aimed at bolstering bilateral relations between the two countries.

Signed in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Dr. Ebrahim Raisi, the five agreements will cover cooperation between the two countries in the fields of film, media, tourism, cooperatives, libraries, and cultural, scientific, technical, and sports:

The Iranian leader is in Sri Lanka for a one-day official visit during which he participated in a public ceremony to declare open the Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project (UOMDP). He later travelled to Colombo where he had one-on-one bilateral talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart.

Dr. Raisi was ceremonially welcomed by President Wickremesinghe along with a guard of honour and other pageantry at Galle Face Green.

The Uma Oya Multipurpose Development Project (UOMDP) stands as a flagship initiative of national significance in Sri Lanka. Its primary aim is to divert around 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 Monaragala district. Additionally, it will fulfill the drinking and industrial water requirements of Badulla, Monaragala, 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 GWh of electrical capacity each year.

Key components of the project include the construction of two reservoirs, Puhulpola and Dyaraba, 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 $ 514 million and it commenced on 15 March 2010.

The Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI) initially contributed $ 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 15 March 2015. However, various challenges arose, including technical issues.

Consequently, the completion date of the project has been extended to 31 March 2024, along with an extension of the warranty period until 31 March 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 commenced on 1 April 2024.

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