Serious differences took place under the Yahapalana regime

Serious differences took place over the feasibility study and procurement activities of the Central Expressway project during the Yahapalana regime, COPE President Professor Charitha Herath revealed to Parliament yesterday (22).

The President of COPE made this revelation during the adjournment debate proposed by the Government on the COPE reports submitted to the House on March 10, 2021 and April 6, 2021 respectively.

COPE President Charitha Herath said both reports included the committee’s observations and recommendations on the coal supply by Ceylon Coal Company Limited for the Norochcholai Lakvijaya power plant from 2009 to 2016, the feasibility study of the central highway project and the special audit report on the procurement activities for this project, the report of the special auditor general on the operations of the Lakvijaya power plant and its impact on the environment, the report special audit on the pollution of the Kelani river, the special audit report on the acquisition of computerized lottery printing and handing over of licenses to the National Lottery Office in 2016 and an audit report Special Report on the Digitization of the Civil Service and the Role of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka in this regard. The reports also include a special investigation by the Committee on Sri Lankan Institute of Information Technology established by the Mahapola Graduate Scholarship Trust Fund.

The construction activities of the project have been excessively delayed due to the constant changes to the track of the central highway, resulting in a negative impact on the cost of the project, observed the President of COPE. Professor Herath pointed out that the decision of the former Yahapalana government to build the road from Kadawatha to Mirigama instead of Enderamulla, as initially planned, resulted in additional feasibility studies being carried out at enormous cost. Professor Herath noted that some of the feasibility study reports were irrelevant or were unreasonably expensive.

“It is evident that the feasibility reports have a direct link with the corruption that takes place in large-scale development projects like these. COPE wishes to point out that the feasibility study reports should not be modified in parallel with changes in Governments. The feasibility reports must be solid and credible, these reports must not be manipulated. National plans should not be changed as governments change. It cost billions of rupees of public money. Whether the Central Expressway project is renamed to Northern Expressway again, the feasibility study carried out on the project should not be changed, ”said Professor Herath.

According to COPE observations, the delay in starting the works of the first section of the central highway stretching from Kadawatha to Mirigama during 2015 to 2019, caused a financial loss of Rs. 8 billion. The COPE report also revealed that the selection of SMEC for the first feasibility study took place without a procurement process. In addition, the project which was in three phases like the Northern Highway in 2012 had been changed into four phases like the central highway by 2015.

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