Necessity is not only the mother of invention but also initiative. As we sweat and struggle through the hottest ever heat waves in our history -- the blazing result of global warming and climate change -- we may have to face daily power cuts and water cuts soon.
Civic-minded and patriotic people instead of cursing the darkness or dryness need to light a candle and be like a spring in the desert. While the National Government works out its own solutions, every citizen needs to take this opportunity to cultivate the good habit of saving electricity and water as part of our contribution to the global battle against climate change, which most analysts see as one of the worst ever catastrophes facing humanity and mother nature.
In an enlightened move, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) over the weekend told the government to take the people into its confidence, tell them the truth about the electricity crisis and impose daily power cuts for at least one hour.
CEBEU President Athula Wanniarachchi said there were plans to buy another 100MW of emergency power. He said Sri Lanka was in a critical situation and even if more power was bought, its transportation and installation would take another three to four weeks.
The Engineers’ Union leader said before that, at this rate of usage, water levels of Laxapana and Samanalawewa reservoirs would drop drastically, endangering power supply to the South and water supply to Colombo. He said the engineers were recommending that the best option was not to keep the people in the dark but to tell them how serious the crisis was and begin power cuts for at least one hour a day.
The engineers warned that if the power cuts were delayed, Sri Lanka might have to buy about 500MW of emergency power and it would cost around Rs. 10-15 billion. If such a situation went on for about six months, it would deal a blackout blow even to Sri Lanka’s economy.
Rising to high levels, the CEB Engineers’ Union appealed to political parties to go beyond selfish agendas, put the country first and unite for its sake. According to reports, the water levels in major reservoirs are receding drastically. Much hydro power cannot be obtained from the reservoirs as part of the water at Victoria, Moussakele and Castlereagh has to be preserved for vital agricultural purposes and to provide drinking water to millions of people in various areas.
The engineers said during the dry season salt water entered rivers and the CEB had to release water from the Moussekele and Castlereigh reservoirs to avoid this.
Another factor is that due to the high temperatures and dry weather, daily electricity usage by consumers has increased from 35 gigawatt hours to 42 gigawatt hours. More power is being used for air conditioning in work places, hotels and other institutions, while the use of electrical fans has also increased. Citizens and institutions need to act with patriotism and save energy to help the country in a crisis.
Meanwhile, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) over the weekend warned of possible water cuts if the prevailing drought conditions continued. General Manager B.W.R. Balasuriya said the water purification plants were working beyond capacity and the NWSDB might have to impose cuts if the consumption patterns continued.
The consumption has increased due to the worst ever heat wave and people are using more water for drinking and bathing. He appealed to the people to be patriotic and avoid the use of tap water for washing of vehicles or watering plants.
Indeed this is the time for all good people to come to the aid of the country, to act selflessly and sacrificially for the common good of all.