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Infrastructure: Friction free inter-agency cooperation key, says PUCSL DG

Sep 26, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka needs mechanisms and skills to manage multiple agency involvement in order to ensure the proper and timely implementation of its planned mega infrastructure projects, a senior official said.

“There is multiple agency involvement in managing infrastructure projects. We have implementation agencies involvement like land, environment, regulatory and local government,” Damitha Kumarasinghe, Director General, Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said, speaking at the LBR LBO Infrastructure Summit 2016. “If you look at environment itself it has multiple agencies within like marine, cost conservation the central and the regional environment authority.” So as you can see we need to collaborate and integrate multiple agencies when implementing mega infrastructure projects, he said. Kumarasinghe spoke at the LBR LBO Infrastructure Summit 2016 themed “Realizing The Transformative Power of The Western Region Development: Opportunities and Challenges.” The high-level summit brought together 45 leading speakers from the public and private sector as well as academia, both local and foreign, in front of a packed audience at the Cinnamon Grand Oak Room. Recently Sri Lanka announced that it would not go ahead with a 500 MegaWatt coal power plant in Sampur, citing environmental concerns. This was to have been a joint venture with state-run Ceylon Electricity Board and India's National Thermal Power Co-operation. Sampur was originally proposed in 2006. “A decade later it ended even without even a tender been called for construction with only the conditional approval received for land and the initial agreement,” Kumarasinghe says. “So a decade was lost and this is the issue we are facing in implementation of infrastructure.

” Getting all the agencies support at the right time and the right way is a key concern at the moment. Since there are a lot of mega projects in the pipeline for Sri Lanka we must not let what happened to Sampur be repeated, he stressed. “Now this is the challenge. This occurs due to overlapping of jurisdiction, like between the central and local government or jurisdiction over the same aspect of the project in land, environment and regulatory.” Unless we have a mechanism, plan and skills to manage this seamlessly, such as multiple agency involvement then there will be issues like we had in Sampur, he added.
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