Koskulana Mini Hydro Power Project, Sri Lanka

Upon inquiry PILF became aware that the mini hydro power project was right on the boundary of the Sinharaja World Heritage Site, last remaining relatively undisturbed remnant of tropical humid evergreen forest in Sri Lanka


After having exploited all feasible sites for big hydro, Sri Lanka has turned to the development of smaller projects. Many streams have been marked as potential for building mini-hydro projects and already about 37 are in construction or evaluation phase, revealed CEJ member Hemantha Withanage. A mini hydro power plant of 0.6MW is being constructed on the Koskulana River, within the 100m buffer zone of Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Sinharaja rain forest located in the South- West of Sri Lanka was declared back in 1875 as a reserved forest in terms of Ordinance No.24 of 1848 (an Ordinance to regulate the felling and removal of Timber grown on Crown Lands of Sri Lanka). In 1978, Sinharaja was recognized as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. In 1988, it was declared as a National Heritage and Wilderness Area under the National Heritage and Wilderness Areas Act No.3 of 1988 of Sri Lanka. In the same year it was inscribed on the world heritage list of UNESCO. The inscription as a world heritage was justified as ‘Sinharaja is the last remaining relatively undisturbed remnant of tropical humid evergreen forest in Sri Lanka’ and its endemism is extremely high with at least 139 species of endemic plants and its faunal endemism particularly for birds, mammals and butterflies exceeding 50%.  Sinharaja is also an important watershed, as a network of waterways generating from it feed two major rivers, Gin Ganga and Kalu Ganga.

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Basic Data
NameKoskulana Mini Hydro Power Project, Sri Lanka
CountrySri Lanka
ProvinceSabaragamuwa Province
SiteHapugoda Grama Niladhari Division of the Kalawana Divisional Secretariat Division
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe capacity of the Koskulana mini hydro power project proposed by Waste Management Water Power (Pvt) Ltd is 600kw. It has a proposed wier (12m length and 2.5m height) across the Koskulana river, a head race channel (86m length), forebay tank, penstock (265m length) and a power house. Electricity generated to be linked to the national grid of 33 kV at Koskulana grid connection point, 2.2 km away from the power house.
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date29/11/2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesWaste Management Water Power (Pvt) Ltd from Sri Lanka - Developer
Relevant government actorsCentral Environmental Authority

Forest Department

Divisional Secretary of Kalawana

Land Commissioner General

Ceylon Electricity Board
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPublic Interest Law Foundation

Rain forest Protectors of Sri Lanka

Environmental Foundation Ltd.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.As the Court case is pending it is too premature to comment. However, on an undertaking given by the developer to Court the project is temporarily stopped since 23rd December 2015
Sources and Materials

National Environmental Act No.47 of 1980 as amended

National Heritage and Wilderness Area Act No. 3 of 1988 as amended

State Lands Ordinance No. 8 of 1947 as amended

World Heritage Convention
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Koskulana Mini Hydropower Plant in Sinharaja Strict Buffer Zone
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27th July 2016 Daily Mirror - Exposure
[click to view]

Environmental Impact due to Destruction of Rainforests for Mini-Hydro Projects
[click to view]

[click to view]

EFL site report
[click to view]

Media Links

Fundraising Campaign to Save Sinharaja
[click to view]

Other Documents

Koskulana Mini Hydro Power Project Construction activities
[click to view]

Koskulana Mini Hydro Power Project Construction activities
[click to view]

Koskulana Mini Hydro Power Project Construction activities
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Meta Information
ContributorPUBLIC INTEREST LAW FOUNDATION , [email protected] and Environmental Foundation Limited
Last update25/04/2017