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Work on Upper Kotmale hydro project in Sri Lanka nearing completion

TALAWAKELE, Sri Lanka 1/13/12 (PennWell) -- Construction of Sri Lanka's controversial Upper Kotmale hydropower plant is nearing completion, according to Sri Lankan news sources.

The 150-MW project was first proposed in 1968 but was stymied for decades due to concerns about its environmental impact. A favorable court ruling and a US$270 million loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in 2006 allowed construction to begin. 

The project is now "92 percent complete," according to Sri Lankan Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka. When finished, it will be Sri Lanka's largest hydroelectric facility and should alleviate the country's energy shortfall.

Ranawaka says he expects the first of two 75-MW generating units to be operating by the end of January, with the second coming online by April.

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