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Showers of blessings, but blackout for the people - Editorial


26 June 2013 05:07 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


In the afterglow of Poson—the day on which Arahat Mahinda brought the hallowed dhamma of the Enlightened One to Sri Lanka and changed the history, civilisation and culture of this country—it is tragic or horrifying to see millions of people groping in the dark or being kept in the dark on the vital issue of electricity generation and why their monthly bills have gone up to shocking level.

"three private companies owned by three powerful businessmen are trying to make  tens of millions of rupees from thermal power generation"

The root cause for this and other crises is the breakdown of democratic principles such as good governance, accountability, transparency, checks and balances.

For the past few months the Rajapaksa regime, the Ceylon Electricity Board and an alleged mafia comprising three private companies connected to the CEB appear to have being playing double or treble games with all sorts of cross currents and undercurrents with wires crossed here, there and almost everywhere.

With heavy monsoon rains continuing for the past few weeks the Victoria and Kukuleganga reservoirs are overflowing and the spill gates have been opened. Normally this is peak time for hydro-power generation which costs much less than thermal power. And therefore the monthly electricity bills of millions of people could have been reduced. But the Electrical Engineers Association President, Nandika Pathirage said recently the operation of the Kukuleganga Power Station had been suspended due to a defect in one of its turbines.

The Victoria reservoir also reached its spill level after heavy rains during the past few weeks but strangely one of the three turbines of the Victoria reservoir also was switched off for what engineers claimed was a sudden repair. Following this the National Grid has lost 70 mega watts.

National Electricity Consumers Movement Secretary Bandula Chandrasekera said the Kukuleganga power plant also contributed 74 mega watts to the National Grid and due the nonuse of the two turbines, power had to be bought from the private operated Thermal Power Plants.

Opposition party leaders charged there was a mafia operating in the CEB and it was mainly responsible for the massive increase in electricity bills.

UNP parliamentarian and economist Dr. Harsha De Silva charged that the Rajapaksa regime and top CEB officials had created the mafia of three private companies in the CEB. Most independent observers believe these three private companies owned by three powerful businessmen are trying to make  tens of millions of rupees from thermal power generation and therefore  there is substantial validity to the allegations of some fowl play to sabotage the operations of the hydro-electric power plants.

Not only opposition leaders and electricity consumers even an outspoken government minister recently hit out at this mafia in the CEB. Minister and National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa said if a few individuals were bribed they would release water from Victoria and other reservoirs, thereby creating a need for more thermal power generation which meant more profits for the private companies.

If the CEB uses more hydro electric power at a time when Sri Lanka is enjoying an abundance of rain and showers of blessings the so called fuel adjustment surcharge could also be reduced or removed thus further reducing the electricity bills and burdens on millions of suffering people. But the people are getting blackout blows with the process of lies, damn lies, statistics and deception continuing. If the Rajapaksa regime does not act honestly and act fast to defuse this crisis and give some releif to the people, then high tension is likely to build up and a powerful public explosion looms with no trip switch for the ruling elite.

  Comments - 1

  • Jayantha Wednesday, 26 June 2013 05:47 AM

    This issue was not highlighted clearly even in your Sinhala newspaper "Lankadeepa". This is a tragedy that we always experience, as larger section of the readers are deprived of these facts by Sinhala newspapers. Publishers seem to two sets of standards for different readers.

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