Koskulana Mini Hydro Power Plant

After exploiting all sites for major hydro, Sri Lanka turns to small plants; however, cumulative impacts and repeated violation of environmental law are main reasons for opposition by local villagers and NGOs

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 which is an endangered UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project site will also affect the neighbouring Ranjuwankanda Rainforest. The weir and powerhouse are being constructed, however construction has temporarily been halted due to an order by the Kalawana Divisional Secretariat. Deforestation has taken place at the project site and river sand is being mined for construction. Rock blasting was also observed at the project site, contrary to the requirements of the Initial Environmental Examination. The organization Environmental Foundation Limited has observed that the IEE report describes the general features of the project area to some extent but never state that the project area is exclusively within the buffer zone of the Sinharaja Rain Forest. EFL has also lamented scarce accuracy in biological survey, like fish species. Also, according to the IEE report, there are no river users along the river bank within the proposed project area, which is incorrect. There are many houses beyond the proposed weir on both sides of the river bank. People explore theses streams for gems and also to catch fish. The IEE report blames the upstream inhabitants for soil erosion rather than the devastating activities taking place for the plant construction. There will be an unprecedented soil erosion and subsequent sediment load into the stream due to the construction of the weir, excavation for headrace channel, forebay and powerhouse and other infrastructure development activities such as the construction of access roads. The soil erosion resulting from construction of power projects cannot be compared with minor agriculture activities. According to LankaWeb, "The total length of the affected stream stretches (ASS) in the Kukule Ganga including the Kukule major hydropower project is 12.39 km of which 8.18 km have resulted from Kukule Ganga major hydro dam, which generates 80 MW whereas about 4.5 km stream stretches have been destroyed from six mini hydropower plants, which generate only 10.50 MW." This indicates that mini hydropower projects also generate major cumulative impacts as serious as those provoked by large hydro.
Basic Data
NameKoskulana Mini Hydro Power Plant
CountrySri Lanka
ProvinceSabaragamuwa Province
SiteKudawa, Kalawana Divisional Secretariat
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 DetailsProject has to generate 600kw. The project includes the construction of a concrete weir (2.5x 12 x 2.0 cubic meters), 86 m long headrace channel, a forebay, and a powerhouse with 29 m long tailrace channel. Water will convey from the forebay to the powerhouse via 265 m long penstock while after generation of electricity water will be released back to the Koskulana River through 29 m long tailrace channel. The project has calculated 2.54 m3/sec as the design flow to generate electricity and 0.1 m3/sec a
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date11/2015
Relevant government actorsKalawana Divisional Secretariat

Forest Department

Ceylon Electricity Board
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Foundation Limited

Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka

Wilderness and Nature Protection Society
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
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project has been temporarily halted and a court case against the company and the government agencies that approved this project has been filed.
Sources and Materials

Koskulana MIni Hydro in Sinharaja
[click to view]

Mini Hydros: Clean Energy Comes at High Cost to Nature
[click to view]

EFL site report
[click to view]

Media Links

Fundraising Campaign to Save Sinharaja
[click to view]

Other Documents

Construction work at one of the mini plants Source: Lankaweb
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEnvironmental Foundation Limited
Last update08/06/2016