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Victoria Dam, Sri Lanka

Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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42.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress on the United Kingdom funded Victoria dam in Sri Lanka.

I am glad to report that work on the Victoria dam is going ahead well. The dam is now more than half way to completion; the drilling of the power tunnel, which is three-and-a-half miles long, was finished last month; and the construction of the power station is well advanced.

I welcome that progress. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Victoria dam project is a good example of how British aid can most effectively be employed, not only in its funding allocation, which is perceived by the people to have beneficial results, but because, as on this occasion, it is married to the expertise and skill of the construction industry? Will my right hon. Friend promote more such bilateral agreements?

I cannot promise to promote more such bilateral agreements. This depends on demands from the various countries. I agree with my hon. Friend that this is a valuable project for the Sri Lankans, because the dam will provide 210 mW of electrical power, which will be a substantial contribution to Sri Lanka's power requirements. In addition, the irrigation benefits will be spread over 112,000 acres and will ultimately provide settlements for 50,000 farming families. Therefore, this project is of great benefit to the poorest people in the developing world.