Southern Transport Development Project

BIC is no longer actively monitoring this project.

Problems include harsh resettlement practice, environmental degradation, and lack of participation and transparency

Location: Sri Lanka
Dates: 1999-2009
The Southern Transport Development Project (STDP), approved in November 1999, involves the construction of a 128-km expressway linking linking Kottawa in the outskirts of Colombo with Matara in the south. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided a loan of $90 million from the Asian Development Fund to finance the southern 61-km section from Kurundugahetekma to Matara, construction of which is currently on-going. Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is financing the northern 67-km section from Kottawa to Kurundugahetekma with a loan of $120 million. The Government will finance the balance, originally estimated at $78.2 million but is expected to increase due to the trace change. The Government will finance the balance estimated at $78.2 million.
Local groups are most concerned about the significant alteration of the original trace identified in the ADB-financed feasibility study. This alteration has resulted in a host of problems including increased number of people to be resettled, harsh resettlement practice, lack of participation, lack of information and transparency, environmental degradation, and disturbance to social networks and structures.


In 2001 and 2002, affected communities submitted eleven requests for inspection under ADB’s 1995 Inspection Policy; nine were not considered and two were rejected by ADB’s Board of Directors after receiving a response from project management. The affected communities have argued that the ADB Management’s response was “full of inaccuracies and was totally misleading.” In a case submitted by the affected persons, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in January 2004 ruled that the appellants had been denied their right to be heard by the Road Development Authority of Sri Lanka on the selection of the new trace, and that they should be compensated monetarily.

On June 9, 2004, local communities submitted a new complaint to the ADB Special project Facilitator (SPF) under the new Accountability Mechanism. The complainants requested the suspension of the loan to halt the dispossession of affected persons’ lands. OSPF determined the claim’s eligibility on July 5, and on September recommended that an Environmental Impact Assessment and a Social Impact Assessment be conducted for the current trace, and a comprehensive resettlement audit be done. The SPF did not recommend the suspension of the loan.

On November 8, 2004 local communities filed a request for compliance review, and with it a request for the suspension of loan disbursements. The Compliance Review Panel (CRP) issued its report in June 2005 and the ADB Board approved it recommendations in July 2005. The report did not recommend loan suspension but did find that all policies mentioned by the inspection claimants had been violated by the ADB Management. The Board accepted Management’s Course of Action (CoA) which proposed steps to bring the project back into compliance and tasked the CRP to monitor the implementation of the Board recommendations and the CoA on an annual basis. The first CRP Monitoring Report will be due in July 2006.

Civil Society Contacts

Joint Organization of the Affected Communities on Colombo-Matara HighwaySarath Athukorale, President
Tel/Fax: +94-38-22-92840, +94-38-22-92871,,
Centre for Environmental Justice – Dilena Pathrogoda
Tel/Fax: +94-11-268-3282,

NGO Forum on ADBHemantha Withanage, Executive Director
Tel: +63 2-921-4412,

ADB Contacts

Kunio Senga, Director General, South Asia Regional Department
6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 0401 Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 632-6200/4959,
Fax: (632) 636-2212

Mr. Tyrrell Duncan, Senior Transport Economist
6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 0401 Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 632-5230,
Fax: (632) 636-2212

Nessim J Ahmad, Director, Environmental and Social Safeguard Division
6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 0401 Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 632-6789,

Office of Special Projects Facilitator
6, ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 0401 MM, Philippines
Tel: (632) 632-6786,
Fax: (632) 636-2295

Office of Compliance Review Panel
6, ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 0401 MM, Philippines
Tel: (632) 632-4149,
Fax: (632) 636-2088