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Mystery surrounds dropping of two vital hydro power projects by CEB during yahapalana rule 

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35MW Broadlands Hydro power plant expected to be completed next month

By Ifham Nizam   

The Power Ministry will go all out to complete the 35MW Broadlands Hydro power plant next month especially to cut down expensive oil fired power generation and avoid emergency power purchases.

The plant was scheduled to be completed last December but it got delayed due to the non- availability of top Chinese experts owing to the pandemic, but, with their return, the Ministry is confident of getting it completed now. Forty five Chinese experts are in the process of completing the plant.

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.      

Members of the CEB senior management recently visited inside the 3.5 km tunnel of the 35MW Broadlands Project on the initiative and instructions of the Presidential Task Force led by Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa.      

The 35 MW plant over the Kelani Ganga 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      

Senior engineers of the CEB said that sidelining two important hydro power projects, which were scheduled to go into operation from 2015, were among some controversial proposals included in the Board’s previous Least Cost Generation Plan.      

A senior engineer said that the plan to sideline crucial and inexpensive hydro generation projects cost the CEB a minimum of Rs. 5 billion annually as it had to rely on costly thermal power to meet the shortfall in supply. “That resulted in a loss of Rs. 20 and Rs. 25 billion since 2015,” the official said      

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.      

It had to be investigated, according to senior engineers who pointed out that the delay in constructing hydro plants would have adverse cost implications.

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SLFP: PCoI has exceeded its mandate and failed to address critical issues

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed the PCoI on Easter Sunday Attacks to identify local and international forces behind the attacks, establish the motives of those groups and to punish those who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks, but those issues had not been addressed by the PCoI’s final report, the SLFP said yesterday.

 SLFP General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekera said that the party’s Executive Committee had discussed the report in depth on Thursday and decided that the Commission had not addressed the issues it had been appointed to probe.

On the other hand, some of its recommendations have gone beyond its mandate.

Issuing a press release, the SLFP said that while the PCoI observed that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been soft on Islamic extremism and his government had not taken active steps in combating extremism, however, the PCoI had treated Wickremesinghe with kid gloves while taking a tough stance on former President Maithripala Sirisena.

 “The former President took over the Ministry of Law and Order on 30 October 2018, i.e. only five months and twenty days before the attacks. None of those who held the post before have been accused of anything. The report also focuses little on those who planned the attacks, those who financed the attacks and those who protected the attackers. Moreover, although there is evidence to prove that the weapons found in Muslim mosques after the attacks had been brought in by ships; the report had not investigated it in-depth,” the SLFP said.

 The party also said Pulastini Rajendran alias Sara Jasmine, the wife of Mohommadu Hastun, a suicide bomber, had fled to India sometime after the attacks. However, the Commission had not only paid any attention to it but also had ignored what could have been found.

 “The mandate set by President Sirisena says to look at current or former state officials who are directly or indirectly linked to these incidents. There is no mandate for the Commission to look into whether the head of the state or ministers have fulfilled their constitutional duties. Thus, the recommendations on the former President are beyond the PCoI’s mandate. The pages 292 and 293 of the report state that President Sirisena had instructed the Police to arrest NTJ leader Zahran Hashim at the National Security Council. However, they also insist that the former President had not carried out its duties and responsibilities. Page 296 says that the former President not appointing an acting Defence Minister when he left for India and Singapore was a violation of the Constitution. However, in another place the Commissioners say that making such appointments is at the President’s discretion,” the SLFP said in a press release.

 The SLFP also states that the former President had carried out his duties and the report has ample evidence of it. Thus, there is no way that criminal proceedings can be instituted against him.

 “The concept that criminal proceedings can be instituted against a President for not carrying out some duty sets a bad precedent and is a slight to the power given to the President by the Constitution. The US and New Zealand security agencies had received information about 9/11 and the Christchurch shootings but the heads of the states were not charged. We vehemently refuse the allegations against the former President and reject many of the other recommendations too.”

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Organise State Vesak festival at Nagadeepa with those of other religions- PM 

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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs has instructed authorities to hold this year’s State Vesak Festival at the Nagadeepa Raja Maha Viharaya in Jaffna focusing on the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The Prime Minister at a meeting held at Temple Trees on Thursday evening had given instructions to the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs Prof Kapila Gunawardena to organize the State Vesak Festival together with those following other religions.

Accordingly, the Departments of Hindu, Christian and Muslim Affairs under the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, will join in the efforts to organize the event.

Among those present were Sanghanayake of the Northern Province Chief Incumbent of the Nagadeepa Vihara Ven Dr. Dharmakeerthi Sri Navadagala Padaumakitthi Nayaka Thera, Sanghanayake of the Eastern and Thamankaduwa Ven Munhene Mettharama thera, Sanghanayake of the Matara-Hambantota districts Adrahere Kassapa Nayaka thera, State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake, MP Suren Raghawan and officials of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.

 

 

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Dubai haven for majority of Lankan fugitives with INTERPOL red notices

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By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Police had obtained INTERPOL Red Notices against 24 drug traffickers hiding overseas, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

In addition, DIG Rohana said INTERPOL blue notices had been issued for 87 wanted criminals who were currently residing overseas.

The DIG said a majority of the suspects were reported to be hiding in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, while some were in neighbouring India and European countries.

The country’s law enforcement agencies had seized over 1,610 kilos of heroin in 2020 alone, the DIG noted, adding that last year 33,125 suspects had been arrested for possessing heroin and 1,400 others for having in their possession synthetic drugs.

About 61,550 persons had been arrested for narcotic-related offences, in 2020, said the Police Spokesperson, noting that intelligence reports had suggested there was a shortage of heroin in the local drug market due to continuous raids carried out by law enforcement authorities. That had led to a rise in the use of synthetic drugs, such as ICE, he added.

INTERPOL assistance had been sought to extradite 129 Lankans wanted for various crimes, he said.

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