Work on Iran-funded Uma Oya, Sapugaskanda projects
Giant strides for power sector progress
SAPUGASKANDA: Taking a giant stride forward in economic
development of Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Iranian
counterpart Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad symbolically launched the
long-awaited and multi-purpose Uma Oya Hydropower project in Wellawaya
and the Oil Refinery Capacity Expansion project at Sapugaskanda, at a
colourful ceremony in Sapugaskanda yesterday.
These were undoubtedly epoch-making events in the annals of economic
development of the land, ushering-in of an era of prosperity and the
consolidation of a nexus and mutual co-operation between Sri Lanka and
the Islamic Republic of Iran.
They were also giant leaps taken to implement the Government's 10
year plans, as envisioned in the Mahinda Chintanaya.
An official plaque was unveiled by the two Presidents to symbolise
the modernisation of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery which would produce
the oil requirements of the country and even for export in the future.
A sapling of an ebony tree was also planted by the two Presidents to
symbolise the growing ties between the two countries, in the years to
come. Addressing the inauguration ceremony President Rajapaksa opined
that Iran was advocating Science and Technology for human development
instead of war.
"Reservoirs are like the arteries in our body. The sustenance of our
nation was due to huge reservoirs and great irrigation works like the
one we are launching today. We breathe life to our nation through these
reservoir projects," the President noted.
The President pointed out that globally, the Islamic people have
suffered immensely from war, and that hundreds of thousands of fraternal
Muslims have been displaced and live in refugee camps due to the Israel
- Palestinian conflict and other conflicts worldwide.
That is not all, he said, the inhuman sufferings the Sri Lankan
Muslims have undergone due to terrorism have not been seen in many other
countries. It encompasses the massacre of Muslims at prayer-time to
Almighty Allah, at the Kattankudi Mosque; and the eviction of several
thousands of Muslims from the North in just 24 hours.
President Rajapaksa pointed out that a reservoir was the noblest gift
one could give to the Sri Lankan people.
As envisioned in the Mahinda Chinthana policy document, the
Government would build huge multi-purpose irrigation projects such as
the Deduru Oya, Rambukkan Oya, Moragahakanda and Uma Oya projects in
addition to the 10,000 reservoirs project.
Statistics would not measure the utility that would accrue to the
nation, by a reservoir of this nature and magnitude. "How many crops
would have been cultivated and harvested in the past, from the waters of
the Parakrama Samudraya, Kala Oya and the like"?
As in the past, how many generations yet to be born would be served
by these reservoirs ? Hence, a generation cannot fix a monetary value
for a project like this, just as mother's milk cannot be priced. We do
not estimate this at 450 million dollars," the President added.
He pointed out that the modernising of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery
with Iranian assistance would accrue a twofold economic benefit to the
country, as we would have the capacity to refine all our needs in oil
from this refinery. "We are aware that Iran supplied the most crude oil
to Sri Lanka.
Yet, without showing the power of oil, Iran has been in the spirit of
friendship to assist us to establish a modern oil refinery," he
reiterated. President Rajapaksa noted that Iran and Sri Lanka have had a
long history of close relations, with Iran being mentioned in our
history and literature as 'Persia'. He further noted that he had a good
understanding of the sufferings of the Muslim world, as the President of
the Palestine Friendship Society for a long time.
"That is why I pledged at the last Presidential Elections, not to
allow any single race to take another race hostage", he said. He pointed
out that while they could build the overhead bridge at Kelaniya in 62
days, it took them only two months to re-settle in their old villages,
the Muslims who lived for decades in refugee camps.
"We have not only provided electricity, roads, education and
livelihoods to the people of the East, but also gave them an opportunity
to enjoy democracy after twenty years", he added.
He noted that by resettling the people in their former villages, they
gained the same satisfaction that the Iranians achieved, by safeguarding
the Iranian people from war. "Already we have spent Rs. 6 billion for
the development of the liberated East.
We have developed the Batticaloa-Trincomalee railway line and the
towns of Valachchenai and Kalmunai in such a way that the terrorists
would not be able to conquer them. They who were vanquished could well
raise their heads again and try to regain what they lost. It is the duty
of the people to protect all these gains and defend these victories", he
He pointed out that the foreign policy of the government of Iran was
of peace and justice, and this policy was welcomed whole heartedly.
"This modern oil refinery was a symbol of such friendship. As a quote in
the Buddhist texts say when waters from the four directions flow into
the sea, they have the same salty taste.
Let us pray that this Uma Oyas project would bring solace to all
people, irrespective of their racial or religious differences",
President Rajapaksa added.
Iran for Lanka's progress, honour
COLOMBO: Iran always desired and wished Sri Lanka progress and
honour, said Iranian President Mahmmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I am sure that people and religious leaders of this beautiful
country will render a great service to humanity by working together in
peace and brotherhood and I thank God for it," he said.
The Iranian President expressed these sentiments when he met leaders
and members of clergy of all religions at the Galadari Hotel Colombo
The meeting was convened on the initiative of Western Province
Governor Alavi Mowlana.
The Iranian President said a very friendly atmosphere prevailed
during his visit to Sri Lanka.
"God created man to enable him identify God and be humble before him.
By doing this God had elevated man to a high pedestal."
"Therefore man should live happily in unity and mutual co-operation
with others during his short life span," he said.
The Iranian President who emphasised the need to abhor hatred, enmity
and jealousy, promote mutual love and respect and shelve injustice and
aggressiveness said these are basic tenets of all religions.
He said Sri Lankans are compassionate people and they commanded the
honour, respect and friendship of the Iranian people.
The Iranian President who said that the Iranian people desired close
co-operation with the people of Sri Lanka, said he wished Sri Lanka a
The Iranian President who said that unity among all religious leaders
would enable them to overcome any threat or force invited them to tour
Iran in the near future.
The Mahasangha led by The Most. Ven. Dewuldena Gnanissara Uttaritara
Mahanayake Thera of the Amarapura Mahanikaya, the most Ven. Bellana
Gnanawimala Mahanayake thera of the Kotte Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha
Sabha, Procurator General Rev. Fr. Ivan Perera, Alhaj Moulavi S. Niyas
Mohamed and priest Brahma Sri Shanmugaratnam were among the other
members of the clergy of all religions present.
Iranian Foreign minister and the members of the Iranian delegation,
Petroleum and Petroleum Resources minister A.H.M. Fowzie, Iranian
Ambassador Benham Behrouz, Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Iran M.M. Zuhair
and Colombo's Mayor Imthiaz Mohammed also participated.