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Mystery power failure: PUCSL begins public hearing

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‘It has taken this step as CEB is not cooperating,’ says expert

By Rathindra Kuruwita

For the first time in its history the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) will hold a public hearing, on 27 May, as part of its investigation to find out what caused the countrywide power failure on 17 August, 2020. PUCSL Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said the session would commence at 9.30 am.

 It was the first time that such a massive power failure had occurred in the country and no room should be left for another one.

 “Because of this power failure, the CEB was unable to serve a total energy demand of 27.5 GWh, which is estimated to be around Rs. 4 billion. In addition, there were other consequential losses due to the failure. This public hearing will be to figure out what happened.”

Ratnayake said that a public hearing was akin to a commission and those who testify before it would do so under oath.

The PUCSL has asked stakeholders, including the general public, to send in written submissions to the ‘Chairman, Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, Level 06, BOC Merchant Tower, 28, St. Michael’s Road, Colombo 03.’ These submissions can also be faxed to 0112392641 or emailed to consultation@pucsl.gov.lk. These submissions should be sent within 28 days from 28 March 2021.

An energy sector source said that the PUCSL had taken the step as the CEB had not provided it with data and a report that the regulator had asked for.

The Committee appointed by the Minister of Power to probe the power failure had only handed its report to Minister Dullas Alahapperuma in the third week of February, but it had not been made public or any action taken based on the recommendations of the Committee.

 “In fact, the report was finished by the end of December but the CEB representative and another member didn’t sign the report until February. So, there was a deliberate delay in submitting the report too.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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