Seeing the gesture of Minister for Power & Energy Dullas Alahapperuma, over the TV channels, addressing parliament, placing his palm over his heart and owned the mishap causing an
islandwide power failure, and reading newspapers, where he had sincerely apologised to citizens, should give CEB engineers confidence, that here is a minister who will stand by them and in return assure him all the support to carry on his portfolio efficiently, hitherto seem mismanaged.
Recently there have been utter confusion where the Minister/Ministry and Chairman CEB had issued contradictory statements, especially the one on the fourth additional Coal Plant at Norochcholai. Here are some, for the information of the Minister, Dullas Alahapperuma, gathered from newspaper reports.
- Cabinet approval had been obtained to undertake the construction of the fourth additional Coal Plant at Norochcholai and hand over its construction to China.
- A loan of 600 US dollars had been obtained from China
- The fourth power plant at Norochcholai would not be built without addressing the concerns of stake holders.
- The fourth power plant will be a Joint Venture with 52% CEB and 48% Shares with China -[ This Joint venture was vehemently opposed by CEB engineers saying they are capable of operating the plant on their own and a Joint Venture is not necessary. Hope the Minister will listen to CEB engineers as they are the users
and operate the plant]
Minister Dullas Alahapperuma should give CEB engineers the confidence
- CEB Chairman Vijith a Herath had said they have not awarded the construction to anyone as the technical evaluation and environmental impact study was going on.
- The Chairman had also said that the Cabinet has decided on awarding the construction to China considering the huge revenue saved due to the contribution by 300x3 plants at Norochcholai -[This statement has been contested by Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri who had said ‘These types of plants are no longer installed in developed countries as they have efficiency below 35% meaning the plant consumes higher amount of coal than a higher generting plant to generate the same amount
- of Electricity].
"Minister Alahapperuma should place trust in CEB engineers and give them all assistance to deliver the goods in accordance with the accepted Long-term, Least Cost Generation plan"
It is not proposed to deal with malpractices influenced by politicians, except to mention the scandal caused in awarding the LNG plant construction at Kerawalapitiya, where the lowest tenderer had to seek legal remedy and thereby a delay of over four years.
In order to avert all confusion and delays in undertaking the construction of the fourth plant at Norochcholai, it is suggested to the present Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, to pursue action to the offer made by Japan for a Coal Plant, when the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa and later by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made official visits. It is known that Japan has the most modern state of the art Coal Plants. If negotiations are carried out, Japan may offer very attractive concessions as Japan is ever grateful for the stand taken by Sri Lanka at the San Francisco summit and has no other ulterior motives to gain dominance over our country or the Asian Region. This will save the time to call for international tenders, evaluation etc.
All in all, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, should place trust in CEB engineers and give them all assistance to deliver the goods in accordance with the accepted Long-term, Least Cost Generation plan as they are the most competent to handle this most vital utility - Electricity on which the entire socio-economic development of the country rests. and not interfere, dictate what and how it should be done. In doing so, the Minister will stand by the pledge given by our President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Elections where he said in no uncertain terms that he would approve projects only after feasibility, evaluation viability and tender procedure are strictly adhered to and steer clear of power blocks as a non-aligned country.
In conclusion, I am reminded of a saying - “It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We have smart people to tell us what to do”.