Supporting economic development in northern Sri Lanka

Some 2,000 Sri Lankans are expected to gain direct employment from the re-opening of an industrial zone in northern Sri Lanka, rehabilitated under a project inaugurated by the Sri Lankan Minister of Economic Development and the High Commissioner of India.

Opened in 1971, the Atchuvely Industrial Estate in Jaffna district of Sri Lanka was the second industrial estate to be established in the country. There were twelve different industries functioning in this zone until 1983, when riots and instability forced many businesses to close. The estate was completely abandoned by 1990. In 2011, following the end of the armed conflict, the area was selected for rehabilitation under a $1.7 million grant from the Government of India.

The objective of this project was to help potential investors start business ventures by providing the necessary infrastructure to foster economic activity. The infrastructure facilities include road networks, power supply networks, buildings, water supply systems, waste water disposal systems and fire protection systems.

The industrial estate is expected to boost economic activity in the Jaffna peninsula and generate direct employment opportunities for approximately 2,000 locals, as well as indirectly benefit some 10,000 Sri Lankans, by promoting local business and economic activity. It is also expected to lead to a significant flow of investments to increase production capacities in sectors such as the textile sector, food processing sector and agro-based industries, thereby enabling better utilisation of local resources.

UNOPS office in Sri Lanka provided the necessary technical expertise and project management services for the project, which was implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development with funding from the High Commission of India. This tri-partite partnership is a strong example of how the United Nations system is supporting Sri Lanka in working towards equitable economic development.

Several sustainability measures were incorporated in the project to limit any negative impacts on the surrounding environment and communities. To reduce energy consumption, for instance, biological processes were used to treat waste water and drinking water, instead of energy-intensive methods. Using green building concepts, abandoned concrete floors and debris found in the estate were removed and reused in the construction of waste-stabilization ponds – man-made pools of water used to treat sewage or waste, allowing it to naturally decompose. UNOPS also ensured that the drainage network was designed in way that rain-water runoff would not flow into the lagoon, carrying silt that could cause environmental degradation.

Atchuvely Industrial Estate was officially inaugurated on 27 August 2014 by Ministers and representatives from the Sri Lanka Ministries of Economic Development, and of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, the High Commissioner of India Y.K. Sinha, the Director of UNOPS Sri Lanka office as well as other representatives.