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Dullas smells rat, requests STF security for Control Centre

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By Ifham Nizam

Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday asked for Special Task Force (STF) protection for the System Control Centre of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB). His request came following the recent countrywide power failure, which lasted for nearly seven hours.

The Island

learns that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has not ruled out the possibility of sabotage though CEB Chief Eng. Vijitha Herath said initial investigations had revealed that the countrywide blackout on Monday was due to a human error.

Apart from the security measures already in place, Minister Alahapperuma had asked Defence Secretary Major General (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne for additional security backup, the CEB said.

The Power Minister also gave strict instructions during an inspection tour yesterday to the System Control Centre to inquire into the Monday’s blackout.

The CEB would have to resort to emergency power/diesel power that would cost Rs. 200 million aday and the estimation goes to one billion rupees till Norochcholai Power Plants were back in operation next weekend, sources said.

A senior engineer said that the Norochcholai Power Plant Complex, three power plants 300MWx3 had to be shut down due to Kerawalapitiya power disruption and it would take three to four days to start the boiler (DRUM), etc.  

Diesel power, particularly emergency power had to be used as an alternative, an official said adding without Norochcholai output there was a massive shortage; power shedding is on the cards for some areas for next three to four days.

Technical issues at the Kerawalapitiya Grid Sub-station was the prime cause of the countrywide power failure that lasted for more than six hours while some areas experienced power blackout for more than 10 hours.

Minister Alhapperum has directed the CEB to ensure that there will not a similar occurrence.



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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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