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CEB Dy GM in hot water over renewable energy claim

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By Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) has sidelined CEB Deputy General Manager Noel Priyantha for welcoming the 70 percent renewable energy policy recommended by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as an achievable target by 2030, according to sources.

Following DGM Priyantha’s comments at the hydro release ceremony of the Broadlands Hydro Power Plant, on 18 November, under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the CEBEU has served a ‘Show Cause Letter’.

Priyantha said that he strongly believed that 70% of renewable energy purchases could be a reality by 2030, which would enable development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in that field.

In other words, he said that it would contribute to and help build the local economy.

With the commissioning of the plant, the CEB would be able to save more than Rs. 10 million a day. In 2020, CEB losses were Rs. 60 billion as against Rs 85 billion in the previous year, a senior official said.

The 35 MW Hydro Power Plant will generate 125 million units or 125 GWh annually saving Rs. 3.75 billion.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa and the CEB senior management on November 18 visited inside the 3.5 km tunnel of the 35MW Broadlands Project.

Project was initiated on the instructions of then Presidential Task Force led by Senior Presidential Advisor, current Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa.

The 35 MW plant over the Kelani River at Kitulgala is constructed by the Chinese government-owned China National Electric Equipment Corporation while consultancy and monitoring are handled by the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau of Sri Lanka.

The estimated cost of the project is USD 82 million and it is partly financed by a USD 69.7 million loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The balance is financed by the Hatton National Bank of Sri Lanka.

The Broadlands project is the last plant in the Lakshapana cascade power station complex on the Kelani River system.

The construction of the plant would prevent some 88,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. A unique feature of the project is that it is Sri Lanka’s first large-scale hydro power plant associated with the Clean Development Mechanism established under the International Kyoto Protocol.

Plans have been prepared to construct an energy park, including a hydro power museum in the area, expecting the area to become a tourist attraction.

The Broadlands 35MW and Uma Oya 120MW hydro plants were scheduled to commence operations by the start of 2015, as per the 2011 plan. However, they had been removed from the 2011 and 2013 plans for some unknown reason, an official said.



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“Foreign bond holders more important to govt. than hard-pressed people”

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SJB slams GR’s policy speech

The main opposition SJB says that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Policy Speech delivered in Parliament on Jan 18 failed to provide solutions to the crises faced by the country.

Addressing a press briefing held at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo on Thursday, SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne said that the crises with regard to economic management and governance had gone beyond the control of the government subjecting the masses to severe hardships without essential goods and services.

Wickremaratne said that  there had been no increase in the value of  GDP supporting the domestic and foreign borrowings by this government during the last two years.

He accused the government of giving priority to paying off debts of foreign cronies while  starving the people without essential foods inclusive of fuel for electricity generation.

“People who could not afford to basic necessities despite having cash in hand due to the shortage of dollars and foreign exchange now had to stay in the dark for several hours a day without electricity due to lack of fuel as the govt has not been able to maintain a supply chain properly. But the government, having crossed its wires, gives priority to repaying the loan to its cronies while mounting pressure on its citizens,” Wickremaratne said.

“President Rajapaksa’s Throne Speech did not provide answers to any of  the current problems  facing the country. Although the country faced two major problems, there was no answer to either of them in the President’s policy statement.

“First, rising commodity prices push up inflation increasing  vegetable prices. Secondly, the import of essential commodities has come to a complete standstill due to the foreign exchange deficit. There is a shortage not only for  food and fuel but also for  medicines for the people.”

He said only 25% of the country’s essential medicines are produced locally and the rest are imported. There is also a shortage of essential medicines due to lack of dollars for imports.

At a time when the people are under so much of  pressure, the government is  boasting of servicing   international sovereign bonds on time. People need to be told the secret of why foreign debtors are more important to the government than the citizens of the country, Wickremaratne said.

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COVID-19 on the rise again; 800+ new cases a second day running

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(Economynext) New COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Sri Lanka, with health authorities detecting over 800 new infections on Thursday (20) for a second consecutive day.

With the 827 new cases, total cases in the country have gone up to 599,363, official data showed.

Around 15,279 patients are currently receiving treatment in hospital or at home.

With 12 deaths reported in the last 24 hour period, the island nation’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 15,243.

Health authorities warned that the sector could face challenges managing new patients if daily cases continue to surge.

Officials are also concerned about an apparent hesitance for the booster dose of the vaccine that was largely absent in the initial rollout.

“We have provided the opportunity to get the booster countrywide. But because the fatality rate is now low people may think taking it is no longer necessary,” State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production Channa Jayasumana said speaking to journalists on Friday (21).

“Sri Lanka will go back to the previous state with people not taking the booster dose,” he warned.

The booster rate is very low compared to Sri Lanka’s otherwise impressive vaccination numbers, said Jayasumana.

“Only 4.8 million have taken the booster so far, and only 26,796 came forward yesterday to get it.

“With the increase of patients, even though the fatality rate is low, it can be overwhelming for the health sector if patient numbers in hospital wards and ICUs go up.”

Sri Lanka has so far vaccinated 16.3 with the first dose while 13.8 have received both doses.

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Prevention, cooperation, mutual assistance essential to counter connected nature of terrorists in South Asia – Army Chief

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Prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential to counter the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in the South Asian region, said Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva on Thursday, emphasising on the need of law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies.”

“In the legitimate government efforts to fight terrorism or organised crimes, in this regard, a possible South Asian regional treaty could promote counter-terrorism and anti-crime measures by promoting institutional structures and decision-making processes to promote cooperation, coordination, shared expertise and common legal approaches,” said Silva while virtually addressing the “Countering use of Crypto Currencies to Finance Terrorism” event on Thursday.

“Due to the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in our region, prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential,” he added.

The General also said that there are avenues for collaboration by establishing information exchange at customs, imposing immigration barriers and commonly agreeing on the regulation of transporting and stockpiling of weapons and drugs, dangerous goods or potential warlike equipment.

Emphasising that mutual assistance can be enhanced by extending measures for collecting evidence of suspects, exchange of wanted personnel and etc, Silva said that enhancing the capacities of regional countries to handle terrorism and criminals would depend extensively on the training of law enforcement agencies.

“Apart from training for military personnel, of a particular country, it is also essential to carry out joint training for various armed forces of the South Asian region. Conducting counter-terrorism operations at a regional scale would also require regional funding. It is understood that funding counter-terrorism campaigns in recent times has become quite expensive due to the sophistication of insurgence,” Silva added.

The General also said that “this is where we need cooperation as very experience armies, who have long been engaging in counter-terrorism operations, we have specialities, therefore we can share each other’s specialities to counter each other’s imitations.”

“Law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies and principles in the regional countries feel enhanced the compatibility between the countries in fighting transnational crimes and terrorism,” he added. (ANI)

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