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CEB admits Mannar Wind Power farm not fully connected to national grid

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By Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board engineers had failed to supply the much-needed 100MW from the Mannar Wind Power farm to the national grid and were delaying other projects that are in the pipeline in order to go for expensive emergency power purchases, a senior CEB union leader said.

The CEB Technological Engineers’ and Superintendents’ Union President A.G.U. Nishantha told The Island yesterday that the Mannar plant provided only between 20 and 30MW to the national grid.

“We have some 1,000 engineers but they had failed in their focus in getting the much needed supply,” he added.

When contacted, CEB Chief Vijitha Herath told The Island that they did their utmost as predicted by March due to technical issues, however, stressed that by mid-April remaining 70 per cent would be connected to the national grid.

He also said that they would also cut down on Supplementary Power purchases from 128MW requested last year to about 75MW.

Engineer Herath also expressed confidence that despite the dry period, the country’s reservoir water level was manageable.

Nishantha said that hydro catchment levels had dropped to nearly 20 per cent and the CEB had to cover the shortfall with expensive thermal power.

He also charged that projects were being delayed and cheap power plants were being sidelined, a matter that needed to be discussed at length.

Nishantha stressed that eventually to meet the continuing power demand, the Board would be forced go for additional power purchases at a higher cost.

Dismissing rumours, power sector regulator Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Chief Janaka Rathnayake assured that there wouldn’t be any blackouts or power shedding in the country despite March and April generally being termed as dry months.

PUCSL Chairman told The Island that there was no drought as such and at present water levels in the reservoirs was manageable. The reservoir capacity stood at 850MWh which was much more than in the previous year.

A senior electrical engineer yesterday said that the problems would arise if the rains failed between May and June over catchment areas.

He also said that the supplementary requirement was about 128MW to be taken from those plants that had been providing power as usual and there is no additional request as such despite the growing energy need between five and six per cent.

CEB earlier this month spelled out the need of the supplementary requirement especially after the Covid pandemic wreaked economic havoc worldwide.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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