Nuclear energy programme in Sri Lanka

Assisted by India and the IAEA, Sri Lanka is developing its Nuclear Energy Programme. Environmentalists complain about the programme and argue that Sri Lankans' renewable energy sources can meet energy requirements, if they are properly managed


After the meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in February 2015, India and Sri Lanka signed a cooperation agreement for the use of nuclear energy. The agreement is meant to facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in the uses of nuclear energy.

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Basic Data
NameNuclear energy programme in Sri Lanka
CountrySri Lanka
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAssistance provided by the IAEA to Sri Lanka from January 2009 to July 2013 amounted to Euros 1.68 million. The maximum financial support went to the health sector. Other areas of assistance were Industrial sector, radiation safety and human resource development and general atomic energy development [8].

Foreign aids take a crucial role in the development activities of Sri Lanka. For this reason, even if international institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank do not appear as direct investors in the nuclear program, they actually played an important role in orienting policies and provide funds for Sri Lanka [8: 21].
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationUnknown
Potential Affected Populationunknown
Start Date2010
Relevant government actorsIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi 

President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena

Technology and Research Minister Champika Ranawaka

Minister of Power and Energy

Atomic Energy Board (AEB) of Sri Lanka

Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka

Secretary of the indian Department of Atomic Energy (Ratan Kumar Sinha)

Minister of Power and Energy of Sri Lanka (Patali Champika Ranawaka)
International and Financial InstitutionsInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Government of India from India
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCentre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Sri Lanka

Friends of the Earth International

Greens for Change
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Otherpotential hazards due to radioactive waste contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCooperation agreement between India and Sri Lanka to facilitate nuclear energy development, signed on February 2015.
Development of AlternativesEJOs argues that Sri Lanka's renewable energy sources - such as solar and wind - can meet energy requirements if they are properly managed.

Environmentalists require the government to grant adequate concessions and tax benefits to investors on renewable sources.

Immediately stop Sri Lanka Nuclear Energy Programme
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Nuclear Energy Programme is going forward
Sources and Materials

Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority Act
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[8] Governement of Sri Lanka, International Atomic Energy Agency. PROGRAMME FRAMEWORK 2014 - 2018 (accessed 16/04/2015)
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[3] Online article from (16/02/2015) India seals nuclear energy pact with Sri Lanka, hopes to push back Chinese influence. By KRISTA MAHR AND SANJEEV MIGLANI (accessed 16/04/2015)
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Atomic Energy Board (AEB) of Sri Lanka web site
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[1] Online article from DNA news (16/2/2015): India, Sri Lanka ink agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy, agriculture (accessed 15/04/2015)
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[4] Online article from Bloomberg business web site (16/02/2015). India Signs Nuclear Energy Pact With Sri Lanka, Countering China’s Sway. By Natalie Obiko Pearson and Anusha Ondaatjie. (accessed 16/04/2015)
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[6] Article from Hemantha Withanage's blog (03/10/2015). Don’t Nuke Sri Lanka Please! By Hemantha Withanage (accessed 15/04/2015)
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[7] Online article on Lanka Businnes Online (10/2008). Sri Lanka and India have talks on Thorium-based nuclear energy: report. (accessed 16/04/2015)
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[9] Online article on BBC News (26/09/2010). Environmental concern over Sri Lanka nuclear plans. By Saroj Pathirana (accessed 15/04(2015)
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[10] Online article from 'The Sunday Times' (22/02/2015). Are we going nuclear?. Editorial (accessed 15/05/2014)
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[11] Online article from 'Businnes Standard' (21/03/2013). Environment activists from India, Lanka unite against Kudankulam. By Shine Jacob (accessed 16/04/2015)
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[5] Online article from Sri Lanka Digest. Nuclear power: Sri Lanka can do without it. By Janaka Ratnasiri (accessed 15/04/2015)
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[12] Online document By Friends of the Earth International (11/11/2012). 'Resolution in solidarity with the people fighting against the construction of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant in India and against nuclear power plants in other Asian countries'.
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[2] Online article from Word Nuclear association web site (03/2015): Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries (accessed 15/04/2015)
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Other Documents

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Sri Lanka's President Mithripala Sirisena (L) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) during Sirisena's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi February 16th 2015
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Meta Information
ContributorCentre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)
Last update13/07/2015