Junius JayewardeneMr. President Ministers, distinguished guests, friends.
I am proud to be present at an historic moment in Sri Lanka's development.
For centuries the Mahaweli Ganga has flowed unchecked through these hills.
With the commissioning today of the Victoria Dam, its energy is harnessed to a noble cause: the development of the full potential of your land, your natural resources and your people. [end p1]
This breathtaking engineering feat is a product of the modern age.
But it rests on a tradition stretching back some 2000 years.
In the days of your ancient kings, mighty irrigation works were at the heart of a flourishing civilization.
Mr. President, of one thing I am certain.
Together we have created this mighty work which will stand for decades as a sure sign of what friendship and co-operation can achieve.
I well recall the day when in August 1979 at the Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka I [end p2] handed your Prime Minister, Mr. Premadasa, a note saying that we had decided to give priority in our aid programme to this great endeavour.
When we set our hand to the task of helping you with this development, it was not only because the economists told us the investment was justified.
Nor was it simply because we supported your decision to accelerate the Mahaweli development programme.
It was because we felt we could with confidence endorse the economic policies your Government was committed to pursuing, and to [end p3] the success of which the Victoria Dam will contribute.
This was the largest contribution we had ever made to a single aid project.
That is the measure of our confidence in the future of Sri Lanka.
I am sure that confidence will prove to have been well founded.
Victoria has been unique.
But I can assure you that we hope to continue our co-operation with you, believing that you will continue to pursue sound long-term policies. [end p4]
Mr. President, Victoria also exemplifies the contribution that British consultants, manufacturers and contractors can make to your progress.
Sir Alexander Gibb and partners have designed and supervised the construction of dams throughout the world, many of them, like Victoria, breaking new ground in structure and technology.
Balfour Beatty Nuttall among other things successfully poured three quarters of a million cubic metres of concrete into Victoria. [end p5]
They have a record of achieving their objectives on time and within budget.
Preece Cardew and Ryder have designed and supervised the construction of what is already the largest power station in Sri Lanka, with potential for substantial further development.
These companies, and others like them, have a long record of success.
They compete with the best the world has to offer. [end p6]
Visitors from many countries will marvel at the Victoria Dam, at the functional elegance of the design and the quality of the engineering skills which went into this great achievement.
But development is not about concrete, however carefully poured, nor about power stations, however efficiently run; it is about people—their land, their work, their homes, their families, their future. [end p7]
It is people who have brought this project into being, people who have made sacrifices for it, people who will operate it, and people who will benefit.
So Mr. President, it gives me great pleasure to join you in declaring the Victoria Dam and Power Station well and truly commissioned.
May it fulfil its promise of a better life and a happy future for your people.