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Matters ‘COPE’ overlooked



Browsing the internet, before commenting on Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri’s above captioned article, to update myself on what the future holds on coal power generation, as a preamble or a prelude, I came across the following:

“While the amount of electricity generation from coal has declined in recent years, in part due to the rising accessibility of renewable sources of energy, the coal power industry has continued to build new coal-fired generation plants at a rapid pace. The global installed coal power generation capacity is projected to be on the rise over the next decades and predicted to reach a capacity of over 2.2 terawatts in 2050. As of 2019, China had the highest installed capacity from its Coal Power Plants amounting to about 1,005 gigawatts in total. The United States comes distant second with over 246 gigawatts of coal power plant capacity, followed by India at about 229 gigawatts.”

At the same time, there is encouraging news that China has carried out extensive research in converting coal to ‘Clean Coal’, to facilitate the use of coal in an environmentally satisfactory and economically viable way, with clean coal technologies. China has made remarkable progress in this and Clean Coal technologies have now entered into commercialization in stages.

It should also be admitted that 100 percent reliance cannot be kept in renewable sources, specially the major components being Solar and Wind due to vagaries of climate. Developed countries such as Germany have standby Coal plants to meet any short-fall in energy.

Coming to Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri’s reference to Fly Ash, Fishing and diseases, it is considered appropriate to quote what the internationally famed consultants on Coal Power Plants – Ramboll of Denmark, appointed on Norochcholai Coal Plant-had said in their report, for the information of those who have had no access to this document.


Impact from Fly Ash

To the extent at all possible will be recycled and reused in, for example the cement production and brick production just as fly ash under the right conditions can be reused in road construction or similar. However, the bottom ash and possibly part of the fly ash from the electrostatic precipitators as well can be reused. Therefore, an ash disposal site will be constructed inside the coal power plant. The design includes a low permeability bottom liner sloped towards sump pits. The leachate is collected in a sedimentation pond. The clarified water can be used for dust control. The design of the fly ash deposit lives up to modern recommendations for design of similar waste deposits. The consultant is, therefore, convinced that these measures will provide the necessary prevention of the ground water resource.

The environmental viability of ash recycling in the construction industry is given by the prevailing practice in numerous countries of the world, where ash from coal-fired coal plants is recycled in the industry. Trace elements are not considered an issue that valuable fly ash shall not be used for such applications. In these countries, very often demand for such fly ash exceeds the supply. The small amounts of [ignition oil] contaminated ash will not be recycled, but dumped into the ash landfill. It would be unwise not to recycle a maximum of non-contaminated and reusable fly ash.


Sulphur Emission and Particulate Emission

Based on combustion calculations for the selected boiler design and a range of possible coal types, the limiting coal type with respect to sulphur content has been selected. This will have a maximum sulphur content of 0.65 % and a sulphur/HHV ratio of less than 0.11% per kcal/kg. When coal of this type or with less sulphur is burned, the smoke emission from the stack should be according to the national standards, and no flue gas desulphurisation plant [FGD] is required.

As regards NO2 the plant design ensures emission below the required levels and the dispersion simulations show low concentrations of 15 to 30% of the maximum levels for all operational scenarios.

As for Particulate Emission the report says, “The concentration levels in the air at the areas surrounding the plant have been obtained through atmospheric dispersion simulation. The outcome was that the resulting concentrations will be only a small fraction [3-4%] of the allowable maximum. As such, the smoke emitted will be almost without dust, which is often seen from a modern power plant, where the smoke escapes from the stack with a little content of water vapour. The vapour spreads in the air within a short distance from the stack, and hereafter the emission is completely invisible’


Impact on Fishing

The cooling water system will be dosed with hydrochlorite [to a final concentration of 3-4 ppm] for 20 to 30 minutes every six hours. The dosing is required to avoid microbial growth within the cooling system. The hypochlorite treated water is diluted at the same rate as the heat. This means that the dilution will be about five times within the near vicinity of the outlet [Equal to temperature decreasing from 7 o to 1.5 o C]. It is also demonstrated that significant dilution will occur further down-stream of the plant. Any chloro-amines formed by the action of hypochlorite and ammonia, will similarly be diluted to an immeasurable concentration. It is concluded in the EIA that the small area affected by the discharged cooling water will have no adverse effect on the coastal fish population and the coastal fishing economy.



In the preparation of this report on Norochcholai Coal-fired Plant, the Consultants have met the people of the area and to a question posed, the consultants had replied ‘The planned coal fired power plant will meet the ambient air quality standards which were set so as not to harm people, animals and environment. Consequently, there will be no fear of tuberculosis, cancer or any other disease induced by the coal fired power plant’.

In conclusion it should be said that the efficient working of the Coal Plant is left in the hands of the operators to adhere meticulously, to the recommendations made by the consultants, else sporadic outbursts may crop up from the inhabitants of the area, mostly comprising of fishermen, and those small scale farmers.




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Jayantha Dhanapala, a star in a Trinity galaxy



It was about one and a half years ago that I contacted Jayantha Dhanapala to find his Kandy address in order to send him two of my books. On that day he informed me of the death of Mr SML Marikkar, his classmate at Trinity College, Kandy and my student to whom I had taught the classical languages. In an appreciation of Mr. Marikkar I had used the well known Latin dictum, “seniores priores” to indicate that in death too the older should take precedence over the younger as in matters of ordinary life.

As I commenced teaching the classical languages I was more than surprised that I had to teach another subject to the students of the University Entrance class . It so happened that the students learning this subject were an exceedingly outstanding group of Arts and Science students. Among them were Jayantha, Marikkar, Sarath Amunugama, Arjuna Aluvihare, Nihal Perera, Breckenridge and Karaliyadde.

The subject was called General English, a motley combination of general knowledge, language, precis writing and current affairs . In my school by the Beira this subject was taught by the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai, a mathematician turned a teacher of Government to senior students.

Why the Trinity Principal, Mr Norman Walter selected me, a green horn, to teach this subject was a mystery to me. Sometimes I was out of depth. Some of these outstanding students would help me by raising very appropriate questions in class before I got “drowned.” They were Jayantha Dhanapala, SML Marikkar, and Sarath Amunugama. The last two later joined the Civil Service. Sarath even became my boss when I returned to the public service, the SLAS, after premature retirement with full pension rights.

Jayantha won the open Essay prize at Trinity in his final year. The English teacher Rev. Eliott shortlisted the competing essayists selecting two Jayantha’s and JKL Pereira’s as the two best and asked me to be the final arbiter. Though my talents were elsewhere, in the logic of grammar and in figures and less in literature it was clear that Jayantha should be the winner.

JKLP, who came second, like me chose accountancy as a profession. After finishing the English Honours degree with a good second class, Jayantha had a short stint at my old school at Maradana. In the first Administrative Service examination held, after the abolition of the Civil Service, he was placed first. But he chose the diplomatic service.

I heard that he had chosen to learn Mandarin Chinese as one of the foreign languages that young diplomats were required to learn. He later progressed in his career up to the top as an Under Secretary to the Sec. General of the United Nations. I remember reading in the media how President Clinton had paid a tribute to him on his handling of the complex affairs with regard to the nuclear arms proliferation and disarmament.

I had not met Jayantha while he was serving in the UN. It was only when he attended meetings of the Peradeniya Jayatilleke Hall old boys reunions that I came face to face with him after 50 years or so. He would have been surprised to see me at these reunions ,sometimes playing the piano accordion accompanying the ageing old boys of J Hall singing old favourites. Among them were Rev Fr. Derrick Mendis and his cousin Rev Fr. Egerton Perera, both of whom had qualified as Chartered Accountants and had dedicated themselves to a life of poverty as Jesuits. Sadly they are no more.

Jayantha could have reached the top in the UN outfit had the then SL government sponsored his candidacy with greater vigour. Even in the case of his classmate, Sarath Amunugama, had the recommendation of the late Prof. Carlo Fonseka that Aumunugama be the second in command in managing the affairs of the country been realized, the world and our country would have been better places.

May Jayantha Dhanapala’s soul rest in Peace.

Dr Leo Fernando,

Talahena Negombo.

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TImely action must be taken to preserve Buddhism in Sri Lanka



As reported on the first page of Sunday Island (June 4) it is indeed very praiseworthy for the government authorities to have taken timely action to safeguard the most venerated Bo tree in the world. It is both an object of worship and symbol of national sovereignty on the majority Buddhist island of 22 million people. It is a well established fact that a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi was brought to Ceylon by none other than Indian Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sangamitta Maha theri, who established the Bhikkuni sasana here.

However it is sad to note that presently the Bhikkuni sasana is not given the due recognition it deserves in our country, though it is common knowledge that our Buddha sasana comprises of Bhikku, Bhikkuni, upasaka and upasika. It is very difficult to fathom why the government authorities are not issuing Bhikkuni Identity cards, while the Bhikkus even though some break the vinaya rules in public from time to time are allowed to continue with their Bhikku identity cards. Why the double standard? Therefore it is of great importance that Buddhists rise up to the occasion and demand that government issue Bhikkuni Identity cards and give them the due recognition they deserve to have in our society.

If timely action is not taken to rectify the situation to protect the Bhikkuni Sasana, it will face the same fate as the Dhamma Chakraya, which symbolizes the Eight Fold Path preached by The Buddha in his first sermon to the Pasvaga mahanunun, after attaining Buddha hood. The ancient Dhamma Chakraya is correctly depicted in all Emperor Ashoka’s pillars which were erected in Buddhist places of worship in India, under his direction and guidance. Needless to say it is in the shape of a cart wheel with eight spokes connecting to the outer circle depicting the Eight Fold Path. It was also accepted as the Buddhist symbol here after Emperor Ashoka’s son Arahat Mahinda Threra introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

However, presently due to unknown reasons the Dhamma Chakraya has taken the form of the helm, (the wheel connected to the rudder to steer a ship), with projections from the outer circle. Presently 90% of the Buddhist establishments, TV channels and print media use this wheel as the symbol of Buddhism which is an incorrect depiction of the original Dhamma Chakraya. Thus it is equally important to take timely action to rectify this to contribute towards stability and continuity of the Buddha Sasana for posterity.

R. W. W.

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Appreciation: Nalini de Lanerolle



Peradeniya with its soaring architecture reminiscent of auspicious traditions melding the grace of the sculptured rock and incredible richness of greenery and extravagant streamers and showers of glowing flowers in the space of 1956 to 1959 merged Nalini de Lanerolle’s (then de Silva’s) stores of reading and imagination to a vision of the past in all its splendor.

She graduated from the University of Peradeniya in 1959 where she majored in Sociology. She married Asoka de Lanerolle in 1960, and became the mother of a girl and two boys. From 1960 to 1972, she was a Librarian in the Ministry of Planning; from 1973 to 1975 she was an Instructor in English at the University of Colombo.

Energetic in temperament, she had many interests. She read extensively from teen-hood: a vast variety of books ranging from the classics to murder mysteries and science fiction to movie magazines and historical novels. In Sinhala, she mentioned having enjoyed W.A. Silva’s Vijayaba Kollaya and Martin Wickramasinghe’s Rohini, at Visakha. She was appointed to the panel which judged the annual Sinhala Drama Festival. She was also a member of the panel appointed to evaluate films and performers regularly. Le Roy Robinson’s “An Interview with Nalini de Lanerolle on Aspects of Culture in Sri Lanka” reveals the scope of her reflections which enriched readers through ‘The Reign of Ten Kings – Sri Lanka – The World 500 B.C. – 1200 A.D.

Alert in judgment, she had had an active mind and capacious imagination which turned mere curiosity to tough questions with firm answers. Why do the Apollo Belvedere and the Gandhara Buddha show distinct traces of similarity? Was there a King Arthur?

Nalini de Lanerolle has not only satisfied her own musings; in her book she has deftly interwoven facts from Lanka’s chronicles and periods of European history to throw light. To quote Manik de Silva “She has done some innovative historical researching and found exciting parallels of kings and epics in the East and West during the same periods.”

According to Sir Arthur C. Clarke ‘The Reign of Ten Kings’ is an “excellent and much neededpiece of research. I hope that her book will bring to the attention of a large audience some of the most remarkable architectural and cultural achievements in history …”.

Nalini in her interview with Le Roy Robins attributes her interest in history to her father, a Government Surveyor who travelled widely in the country and who told stories of Greek Gods to his children pointing out the constellations including Orion striding across the night sky. Her mother too inspired her, reading to her in Sinhala from Milindapanha, which she later discovered was about the questions posed to an Indo-Greek ruler, a contemporary of King Dutugamunu. Parallels always interested her. As she says to Le Roy Robins “I think I was a history addict. It began with the stories of all those kings – King Arthur included.”

Her husband, Asoka de Lanerolle took a keen interest in history as well and to quote her “my husband Asoka has been interested in most of my thinking regarding history, so he has always urged me to write”. I tried out the idea of parallels in history on him and he encouraged me feeling it was “a different way of writing a history of Sri Lanka”.

Asoka having gained his high school education at Royal, graduated from the University of Peradeniya with an Honors degree in Economics and began his career as an Assistant Lecturer in Economics. He then became a Foreign Service diplomat, and later the Marketing Manager at Lever Brothers Ceylon.

In 1972 he was nominated as the Eisenhower Exchange student from Sri Lanka, giving them both the opportunity of living for seven months in the USA and travelling widely soaking in the history of a different continent. When he joined the UN International Trade Center in Geneva, and worked in Somalia, Bangladesh and Nigeria, Nalini travelled extensively enjoying glimpses of history like the sale of frankincense (one of the three gifts to baby Jesus by the kings) in Somalian market places.

She took great pleasure in all her children being avid readers despite the advent of televisions and in the fact that they all strongly supported the publication of her book, helping her by taking photographs, doing line drawings and cross-checking all the years mentioned in the book.

We have lost a historian and an intellectual, one who sought knowledge and thought, for the pleasure it gave – who has left to her country men and visitors to the island and enchanting and enlightening volume.

Dr. Lakshmi de Silva

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