Moragolla Hydropower Project: Rs. 3.5 b loss from delay

  •     Rs. 5 m loss per day
  •    Environmental clearance, previous Govt. blamed

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Government has incurred an estimated loss of Rs. 3.5 billion over the past two years on account of a delay in implementing the Moragolla Hydropower Project, which is the final large-scale hydropower project to be built on the Mahaweli River, The Sunday Morning learnt.

According to Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath, as a result of the delay, the Government has been incurring an opportunity loss of around Rs. 5 million per day for the past two years.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, the CEB Chairman stressed that the delay was mainly due to the delay in obtaining environmental clearance for the project and the lack of commitment of the previous Government to expedite the project.

The Moragolla Hydropower Project is located in Ulapane in the Kandy District of the Central Province. Preliminary assessments and feasibility studies of the hydroelectric dam and power station began in 2012 with an estimated commissioning date in 2021. The dam is planned to impound the Mahaweli River at Weliganga and have five spillways, with the powerhouse located approximately 500 m (1,600 ft.) from the tailrace discharge of the Kotmale Power Station. The Mahaweli River is the largest river basin and the longest river in Sri Lanka.

At present, seven major hydropower stations have been developed in the Mahaweli river basin, having a total installed capacity of 810 MW. In addition to these, many mini hydropower plants have been constructed along this river as run-of-the-river power plants, having an installed capacity of less than 10 MW. Upon completion, the Moragolla Power Station would have a gross installed capacity of 30 MW from two Francis turbines capable of generating approximately 85 GWh annually.

According to the Ministry of Power and Energy, the total installed capacity of the project is 30.20 MW and it expects a total of 100 GWh of annual energy generation. The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The ADB has provided $ 113.86 million for the project under the “Green Power Development and Energy Improvement Investment Programme” in 2017 as the first tranche of the funds.

The total estimated cost of the project is $ 113.86 million with a total of Rs. 1,930 million as the local component. The project consists of four lots for purpose of construction, including Lot A1: Preparation civil works, Lot A2: Main civil work, Lot B: Electrical and mechanical facilities, and Lot 3: Project management and supervisory support.

The project is to be completed within five years. The procurement process of the project commenced in 2016 and the plant was set to commence operations in 2022.

In 2019, Chinese firm Gezhouba Group Co. Ltd. won a tender to undertake the main civil works of the plant, which includes a dam. Preliminary construction work of the project is now at the final stage and the main civil work related to the construction of the dam, tunnel, power house, etc. is in progress now.

The mechanical and electrical facilities contract of the project was awarded to Dongfang Electric International Corporation (DEC) of China. The contract agreement for this was signed between the CEB and DEC on 30 June 2020 at the CEB Headquarters in Colombo.

Commenting further, CEB Chairman Eng. Herath noted that the civil, mechanical, and electrical contracts have already been awarded and the construction work of the project would begin next month.

“The electrical designing of the project has already started and the CEB is expected to complete the project within the next three years,” Herath said, adding that the commencement of the construction work has been delayed during the past few months due to the Covid-19 situation.