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.
As declared by the Sri Lankan president, the aim is to improve ties with India in order to reduce the island nation’s dependence on China .
Already in 2010, Sri Lanka’s former Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka announced that the government intended to build a nuclear power plant by 2025 to cover increasing demands for energy and to incorporate nuclear into its long-term energy plans, diversifying its energy supply from biomass, hydroelectricity and imported oil products. To attain this, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said Sri Lanka was considering help from India, Pakistan, Russia, France and the U.S. .
As the project has not been implemented yet, currently there is no mass opposition against nuclear programs in Sri Lanka. However, environmentalists have been expressing criticism and warning of dire consequences of the plan since the first steps.
Firstly, many state that the projections for Sri Lanka energy requirements are overestimated, so there is not really a need for such power plants .
Secondly, environmentalists criticize construction costs. Nuclear power plants cost several billions of US dollars and construction can take decades. Therefore, considering Sri Lanka’s financial constraints and the required construction time, a nuclear power plant is not the best solution to meet the currently growing demands of energy in the country. According to some economists nuclear, power plants involve very high construction costs and low fuel cost. While the cost is covered by the government, the risk is for the people and the benefits go to the construction companies rather than to the public.  Another issue pointed out by local Environmental Justice Organiztinos (EJOs) regards the supply of fuel for nuclear power generation.
Minister Tissa Vitarana invited Indian scientists to conduct a feasibility study for the exploitation of Thorium deposits in the Southern coastal belt, with assistance from the Indian Government .
According to the researchers, Thorium deposits exhaust and will not last more than 50-60 years. Environmentalists note that when deposits will be drained, materials have to be imported (from Russia or elsewhere) with a sensitive cost increase, so the proposed targets will not be achieved and there will be another burden on the country’s finances.
Environmental hazards linked to Thorium mining have to be addressed widely too. Extraction of radioactive elements, such as Thorium, generates considerable amounts of radioactive waste.
Talking of radioactive waste, local environmentalists and scientists complain that Sri Lanka is 'too small' for a nuclear power plant. When it comes to nuclear power, we need to think about nuclear waste storage, and to ' how a country which struggles to manage ordinary household refuse thinks that it will be able safely to dispose of nuclear waste' said Hemantha Withanage from Centre for Environmental Justice.  On the other hand, local EJOs argue that Sri Lanka's renewable energy sources - such as solar and wind - can meet energy requirements if properly managed. Meanwhile Indian and Sri Lankan environment activists carried out a number of joint protests against the proposed Kudankulam nuclear plant in southern Tamil Nadu (India) .
The Sri Lanka nuclear energy programme is part of the technical cooperation (TC) project between the Government and the IAEA, carried out since 2003. The programme focuses on several issues, such as food and agriculture, human health, water resources management, environment protection, industry, sustainable energy development and radiation safety .