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Power Blackout Committee Report:Recommendations run counter to President’s policy

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By Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri

The Minister of Power, four days after assuming duties, had to face an island-wide power blackout which commenced around 12.30 pm on the 17th August and lasted up to 7-8 hours. The following day, he appointed a committee, comprising Ministry officials and power experts, to investigate the matter and submit a report within a week.

 

COMMITTEE APPOINTED
BY THE MINISTER

The Committee comprised two administrative officers, including an Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Power, serving as the Chairman, a Retired Professor of Mechanical Engineering, an Engineer who is a Chairman of a Corporation, two Senior Lecturers in Electrical Engineering, one senior official from the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and one senior official from the Ministry of Power responsible for Renewable Energy Development. The Director General of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) was also nominated but did not serve as there was a separate investigation being undertaken by the PUCSL. With two members from the Ministry, including one in the Chair, and another from CEB, the Committee cannot be considered as independent.

The Committee had met on the 18th and submitted an interim Report, to the Minister, on the 24th, which was also tabled at the Cabinet meeting held on the 26th. The Report was also made available at a press briefing held by the Ministry and the contents herein are taken from this Report. According to the Report, the Committee had visited the Kerawalapitiya Grid Substation (GSS) where the initial fault occurred claimed to be due to a human error, Lakvijaya Power Station (LVPS) at Norochcholai, Protection Branch of the CEB and the System Control Center of the CEB at Pelawatta, and had interviewed the staff on duty at these stations with a view to elicit information on the following.

The key reasons for the nationwide power interruption on the 17th August 2020 at 12:30 pm onwards.

Whether the CEB has taken precautionary actions and measures to prevent recurrence of interruptions that had been encountered in the recent past for which recommendations have been extended by similar committees that could have influenced the present incident.

Recommendations for remedial measures that need to be taken by the CEB to prevent recurrence of the same and similar incident.

Whether the CEB has taken the best professional practicing measures in handling the incident and the conditions that led to it employing proper planning, operational and administrative elements and had any constraint encountered CEB’s intended professional actions.

Whether the CEB had encountered similar incidents in the past and how the situation had been then handled.

Whether the CEB could have handled the situation judiciously to minimize the implication and how this could be avoided in the future.

 

PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF THE
REPORT

The Committee, in its Interim Report ,has given a set of preliminary findings, among which are the following:

Routine maintenance work on the 220 kV isolators of the Bus Coupler Bay had been carried out on the day of the incident by the Electrical Superintendent-In-Charge at Kerawalapitiya GSS, who apparently has been attending routine maintenance work at the Kerawalapitiya GSS for the past five years. The power in the Bus Bar 01 had been turned OFF for the maintenance, while the power of the Bus Bar 02 was ON. The Earth Switch 01 at Bus Bar 01 side had been OFF while the Earth Switch 02 at Bus Bar 02 side had been ON as shown in Fig. 1.2(a) at the time of incident.

Under normal operations the Earth Switch and the relevant isolator are interlocked, so that the isolator cannot be turned ON while the Earth Switch is turned ON. However, during maintenance, this interlock had been bypassed, so that isolator can be turned ON even with the Earth Switch is turned ON. At the end of the maintenance work of the 220 kV Bus Coupler Bay, while the interlock is bypassed, the Isolator on the Bus Bar 02 side had been turned ON as shown in Fig. 1.2(b), creating a 3 Phase to Ground fault.

The key reason for the nationwide power interruption on the 17th August 2020 is due to the 3 Phase to Ground busbar fault due to incorrect operation of the Bus Bar 2 Isolator of the Bus Coupler Bay by the Electrical Superintendent -in-Charge at the Kerawalapitiya Grid Substation busbar at 12:30 Hrs.

Kerawalapitiya Grid substation tripping was due to not following the correct maintenance procedure by the relevant officials including the Electrical Superintendent. The Committee also observed that there was no written maintenance protocol for this maintenance job in-line with the current best practiced maintenance protocols.

The Committee is of the view that due to the Kerawalapitiya Grid substation tripping, the system frequency has increased beyond the current setting of the rate of frequency tripping relay of the Lak Vijaya Power Station (LVPS). As a result, the generator-transformer circuits breakers of all three units of the LVPS which made LVPS unavailable to the grid, subsequently the system failed in cascade.

CEB’s recent failure to avoid a country-wide blackout and the longer duration taken to restore power to Colombo City in particular, indicates significant lapses in implementation of critical measures outlined in the previous Expert Committee Reports.

 

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS ON THIS
PROCEDURE

The cardinal mistake done by the Electrical Superintendent (ES) during the maintenance work was that he had disabled the interlocking system which prevents switching on the 220 kV line to the GSS while it is earthed, which is a protective mechanism incorporated into the system to prevent blunders by maintenance staff as happened. It is certainly not an “Ath Wereddak” as claimed by a senior official of the CEB. As a result, the ES was able to connect the high voltage line to the substation already earthed which created the havoc.

The question which arises is what was the necessity to disable the interlocking system to carry out the routine maintenance? The Report does not seem to have queried the ES on this. If the ES has done such an irresponsible act, deliberately, in any other organization, he would have been interdicted forthwith or at least sent on compulsory leave. But, the CEB Management thought otherwise, possibly for fear of trade union reaction.

The tripping of the 220 kV line at Kerawalapitiya apparently has caused a sudden increase in the system frequency at LVPS, resulting in the three generating units there to trip. A sudden increase in the frequency means that the speed of the generator rotors has increased suddenly. Isn’t there a mechanical device called a governor in the generator which helps in maintaining the rotor speed at a constant value? Is it a characteristic of a coal power plant to allow its rotor speed to vary suddenly in response to a disruption in the line? Was it that this governor did not function properly when this incident took place?

The CEB management should be faulted for not making available to the maintenance personnel proper maintenance manuals. It was alleged that even for the Norochcholai coal plant, the manufacturer never made available to CEB the operation manuals in English. That may be the reason for having Chinese technicians to attend to O&M functions even today. It seems that during the last 6-7 years since commissioning the plant, CEB personnel have not been able to learn the O&M functions from the

Chinese technicians. Though, the CEB staff at Norochcholai are unable to handle the O&M functions of the coal power plant by themselves, Sri Lankan personnel are managing three combined cycle power plants, two at Kelanitissa and one at Kerawalapitiya. This is one more reason why Sri Lanka should not build any more coal power plants.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS OF
THE REPORT

Among the recommendations made by the Committee are the following among others:

The committee strongly recommends a standard compliant, systematic, foolproof, safe procedures and maintenance protocols to be instated in the CEB during operation and maintenance (O&M). The implementation of these procedures will have to be continuously monitored and supervised by adequately qualified, professionally trained, knowledgeable, experienced and skilled personnel. The committee would like to propose a performance evaluating annual appraisal system which will help to improve the above attributes of the CEB staff.

The committee understands that there is no Operations & Maintenance related risk management mechanism in place. Therefore, it is recommended to establish a risk management mechanism in order to determine the proper mix of preventive measures, mitigation levels, shift or retention of risks and consequent level of robustness of Operations & Maintenance protocols that would indicate the positive impact on the overall system

The committee strongly recommends to implement the 2018-2037 CEB Long Term Generation Expansion Plan, as given in the plan, which clearly specifies the correct blend of technologies for the future requirements of the Sri Lankan power system to improve the system stability and reliability.

The committee recommends to review the existing protection strategy for frequency instability.

 

2018-2037 LONG-TERM GENERATION
EXPANSION PLAN

 

The first two recommendations are in order. One would expect that an organization like the CEB has already following proper standard procedures for O&M. But if they are lacking, priority needs to be given for the training of staff adequately. It has been alleged in the media that all foreign training programmes are given to engineering staff while the middle level technical staff who actually carry out the O&M work are given only local training. Perhaps, there is a case here and if it is true, it should be rectified.

Since the Committee has made a strong recommendation that the CEB’s 2018-2037 Long-Term Generation Plan be implemented, it is necessary to examine what this plan is. The CEB prepares biennially a long-term generation expansion (LTGE) plan outlining the least cost options of generation plants that need to be added to the system annually for the next 20 years to meet the forecasted demand. The latest plan is in respect of the period 2020 – 2039 but it is still in the draft form yet to be approved by the PUCSL as required by Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 31 of 2013.

The CEB 2018-2037 LTGE Plan released in June 2018 provided for adding 2,700 MW of coal power capacity between 2023 and 2035 and 1,500 MW of natural gas capacity between 2019 and 2036, along with several gas turbines and diesel power plants as well as a large number of small renewable energy plants comprising mini-hydro, solar, wind and biomass systems, under Base Case scenario. However, the PUCSL did not approve this plan but recommended an alternative plan incorporating natural gas power plants in place of coal power plants included in the CEB Plan.

The CEB refused to accept this recommendation, particularly with objections raised by its Engineers’ Union (EU), and the dispute between the PUCSL and the CEB kept dragging for over a year, and the matter was finally referred to the President who gave a directive to the PUCSL to approve the CEB Plan, fearing disruption to the power supply in the country after the CEB EU threatened to resort to industrial action if their demand for coal power plants is not acceded to. This is something not expected from a body of professionals and unheard in other countries.

Also, the LTGE Plan is highly flawed. It is supposed to determine which power technology will be the cheapest in 20 years hence based on current prices. With the cost of generation depending on plant capital cost and fuel prices both of which could vary widely within a span of 20 years, it is futile to make forecasts now as to which technology is the cheapest in 20 years hence and to adopt it. Although the CEB 2018-2037 Plan has recommended building 2,700 MW of coal power plants on grounds that coal power is the cheapest option, a report by World Bank Group study on Sri Lanka Energy Infrastructure Sector Assessment Programme (InfraSAP) released in February 2019, says in p. 18 that “coal ceases to be the least cost source of power generation, as cost of power from LNG and NCRE could potentially be lower than US cents 9 / kWh” which is the estimated coal power price.

It is therefore obvious that the 2018-2037 Plan is not a plan approved after considering engineering and economic aspects properly but approved on political grounds. Hence, the Committee’s strong recommendation to implement such a flawed plan is an attempt to take the power sector development in the country along a wrong path. It is not surprising that the Committee has made such a biased recommendation when two senior officials from the Ministry and one from the CEB are in the Committee. In any case, building more coal power plants is not a solution to a possible blackout in the future. This is the second attempt when the Ministry tried to get building of coal power plants inserted into a policy document on the sly. The first attempt was when the Cabinet took a decision on post-Covid activities to be undertaken urgently in view of the “emergency” situation in the country, building a 300 MW coal power plant at Norochcholai was inserted as one activity in the Cabinet decision.

It is also mentioned that the implementation of the CEB 2018-2037 Plan with more coal power plants is recommended to improve the system stability and reliability in the future. The Committee has not justified that the system stability and reliability would be better with coal power plants than with natural gas power plants for the Committee to make such a statement. However, it was shown in this instant that it was the instability of rotor speed of the coal power plants resulting in raising the frequency suddenly that caused the three coal power plants to trip. Hence having more coal power plants will not be of any help to maintain the stability of the system. On the contrary, it will make it worse.

Further, it is noted that with a coal power plant once shut down, it is necessary to wait several days until it cools down before it can be re-started. On the other hand, with a natural gas operated combined cycle power plant, there is no such delay and the plant can be energized within a few hours.

 

RECOMMENDATION VIOLATING THE
PRESIDENT’S POLICY

 

In the President’s policy document, “Vistas of prosperity and splendour”, he says “We also anticipate that hydro and renewable energy together would account for 80% of the overall energy mix by 2030”. The State Minister for Renewable Energy said during his assumption of duties that the Ministry’s target is to use renewable energy resources to generate at least 80% of the total generation of electricity by 2030. The Power Minister has also made a statement to that effect in the Parliament. However, it is not possible to achieve this target if the CEB 2028-2037 Plan is implemented.

The LTGE Plan has worked out the average generation from each plant type annually and the values obtained for 2030 are given in Table 1, extracted from the data given in Annexes 7.4 of 2018-2037 LTGE Plan. It is to be noted that it is not possible to forecast exact values for generation from each category in the future because it depends on many extraneous factors, such as rainfall, cloud cover, wind regime, fuel prices and demand which are not known accurately in advance. Annex 7.4 gives average values after considering several scenarios.

It is seen that according to the CEB’s LTGE Plan for 2018-37, generation from renewable sources could reach only 36% by 2030, which is far below the 80% target given in President’s VPS Policy Document, assuming what is intended by “total energy” appearing in this document is total electricity generation.

Therefore, the Committee’s strong recommendation that the CEB’s 2018-2037 Plan be implemented is a gross violation of the President’s Policy. It is surprising that a learned Committee including several officials in the Ministry, are not aware of the President’s policy. The Power Minster should call for explanations from the Committee Members why they overlooked the President’s Policy when they made their recommendation.



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Teaching feminism at SL universities

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A women’s right protest. (File Photo)

“Feminism is not a synonym for man hater though we need a new man now”:

By Aruni Samarakoon

Recently, I was in a discussion on Feminism with the members of the Post-Graduate Research (PGR) community at the University of Hull, in the United Kingdom. They were my colleagues, from the Middle-East, Asia and Europe, representing the natural and social sciences, but, apparently, did not possess any prior knowledge on feminism. I say this because most in the natural sciences seemed to characterise feminism as a political ideology against man (man in this context represents male). This discussion provoked me to recollect why feminism was stereotyped by these scholars, who were researching for their doctoral degrees at the time.

The objective of this article is to extend my argument of teaching feminism at the Sri Lankan universities in my last Kuppi column (25/10/2022), which drew attention to the gaps in teaching and learning feminism in the classroom and practicing it in everyday life.

I introduced the basic notion of feminism in my last Kuppi column, but would like to extend the conceptual understanding of feminism in a new direction, that is the notion that feminism is not an anti-man discourse. bell hooks—lowercase letters symbolise, for hooks, resistance to injustice and prejudice in the capitalist system or a “new language” of equality and justice for all—in Feminism for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000) states, “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression… and it was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy ” (p.01). hooks’ proposition was further reinforced by socialist feminist Sheila Rowbotham in her book, Women, Resistance and Revolution (1972). Rowbotham suggests that feminism is a new political project to empower both men and women and create a new man and woman. Notably, hooks and Rowbotham did not agree with ‘binary politics’ that constructs man as “enemy” and woman as “victim”.

Who is the “New Man”?

The political notion of the “New Man” was developed by Rowbotham. She critically examined women’s representation in post-French revolution politics and asked how the latter “represents the voice of women in the French Revolution”? She suggested that women moved once again into the second sex (subordinate role) paradigm at the end of the French Revolution as revolutionary politics turned into patriarchal politics. Therefore, she suggested the concept of “New Man,” a man who recognizes class and sex oppression as the primary determinants of exploitation. The “New Man” understands the equal significance of ending classism and sexism at once. I draw on hooks and Rowbotham to propose that a “new man” is a necessary condition for teaching and learning feminism at Sri Lankan universities.

The question is whether you see the “New Man” in any context in Sri Lanka? Let’s start with the recent peaceful uprising of “Gota- Go-Home-2022”. Revolutionary political agents of both male and female sex were visible at the beginning of the uprising. For example, the image of a woman carrying a child in one hand and a placard in the other went viral on social media. The female undergraduates were on the front lines of the protests, holding the banners and shouting the slogans. The activities of women in this scenario took me back to the French Revolution;

“The idea of a march of women to Versailles to stop the bloodshed spread in April 1871. Beatrice Excoffon, the daughter of a watchmaker who lived with a compositor, told her mother she was leaving, kissed her children and joined the procession at the Place de la Concorde. Nobody was clear about the aims of the march or knew definitely what they should do, but there were political rather than strictly economic motives” (Rowbotham, 1972, p.104).

The women who came to the streets in the Sri Lankan uprising had both political and economic motives. They were not certain about the plan, though their voice was to end the “dictatorship” and restore “democracy”. The fundamental question is where are these women now? How many of these women were in the political party negotiation table at the end of the uprising? How many were able to voice their political motives? I argue that these revolutionary women were thrown to their private spaces by the “Old-Man”- the agent of patriarchal politics. The irony is that the “Old-Man” was preoccupied in ending the dictatorship in parliament, while maintaining sexist dictatorship in their revolutionary political bodies. Thus the “New Man” is a necessary condition to practice feminism as political ideology for everybody.

“New Woman”

The aims of feminist academic discourse and activism were/are to raise women’s political consciousness and empower them to be the “New Woman”. The scholarship of hooks and Rowbotham interpret the “New Woman” as one who opposes patriarchal politics. The “New Woman” can be found today in every sector; these women are in a hard struggle to establish the “Woman’s identity” in those settings. For example, the underlying impetus driving the ongoing Iranian protest is to recognize Women’s identity as a human being. Tearing off their hair cover was a symbolic representation of their voice to get identified as human, in my interpretation. However, creating the “New Woman” is a contested and difficult political process. What is the role of teaching and learning feminism at universities in creating the “New Man” and “New Woman”?

“Learning outcomes” of Feminism

A key “learning outcome” of Feminist pedagogy would be to critically examine a given social reality. The given social reality contains the stereotypes, power hierarchies and objectification of the human body. Feminism then, will throw light on this social reality and raise the critical mindset of both woman and man to question that given social reality.

Feminism, in that case, plays the role of activism for social transformation. The focus of old school pedagogy was examining theory; activism was not a part of older pedagogical approaches. It was feminism that introduced activism as a new method of teaching and learning Amy K Levin states in Questions for a New Century: Women’s Studies and Integrative Learning (2007) that, “feminist studies programmes work to meet knowledge and skills goals and activism is the requirement of the course” (p.18). Connecting knowledge and personal experience is a part of feminist activism.

However, in the context of Sri Lankan universities, activism is yet to be recognized as a legitimate pedagogical activity. In my experience, the most university academics in Sri Lanka maintain a hierarchy of academia and activism. They tend to present the theoretical arguments of other prominent scholars in academic language, rarely understood by the public. In activism, the theoretical explanations are discussed in simple language and examples of everyday life are connected to theory, to engage the public.

In conclusion, the point of feminism is not an anti-man thesis, but to create the “New Man and Woman” . The “New Man ” concept in Sri Lanka can and must be improved and expanded by teaching feminism at higher education institutions. Training undergraduates in activism is necessary for social transformation, which should be the ultimate objective of education. It is worth noting that the Kuppi collective has taken the lead in discussing new approaches to education; feminism is part of that discussion.

(Aruni Samarakoon teaches at the Department of Public Policy, University of Ruhuna)

Kuppi is a politics and pedagogy happening on the margins of the lecture hall that parodies, subverts, and simultaneously reaffirms social hierarchies

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Indian model as wayforward

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President Wickremesinghe

By Jehan Perera

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement that district committees can be considered as part of the solution to the vexed problem of power sharing between the ethnic communities has caused a considerable furore in the Tamil community.  It came as both a shock and a disappointment as the president has also been speaking about fast-tracking the national reconciliation process. The president said he is ready to reintroduce District Development Councils when former president Maithripala Sirisena proposed setting up of district councils under the provincial councils as a cost cutting measure.  “Former President, I listened to your comments on District Development Councils and I am ready to do it,” the President is quoted as having said. Subsequently, the president’s media unit clarified that the President meant that the District Development Committees (DDCs) will be established within the Provincial Councils.

The president’s media unit further elaborated that the DDCs would provide a platform for coordination between the government, the provincial councils and the local governments for all executive decisions. It also said this will ensure the process is not duplicated and will reduce financial wastage.  The concept of the district as the unit of devolution was tried before in 1981 by the president’s uncle, the late president J R Jayewardene during whose period the government established DDCs to be part of the solution to the ethnic conflict that was getting worse by the day.  The Sri Lankan security forces had been ordered to control the growing Tamil militancy.  The security forces were armed not only with guns but also with the Prevention of Terrorism Act which was abused then as it is abused today though to a much greater extent then, than it is now.

The memory of the brief period of the DDCs is an unhappy one to the Tamil community.  The elections to the DDC were contested by the ruling party, the UNP, to which the president belongs.  The government’s attempt to rig those elections and win them at any cost led to the catastrophic burning of the Jaffna Public Library in 1981.  This seat of learning was one of the most sacrosanct institutions of Tamil civilisation that symbolised the high quality of education in the north of the country that was the envy of other parts of the country.  It is therefore not surprising that the president’s media unit was quick to deny the very negative inferences made with regard to the president’s speech.

REINTERPRETING WORDS

The president’s media unit can be relied upon to accurately portray the president’s cryptic remark with regard to his willingness to resuscitate the district council system.  However, the very idea of creating a complex platform for coordinating the central government, provincial councils and local government bodies for all executive decisions seems to be a difficult task.  It runs the real risk of killing any possibility of decision making through a multiplicity of committees.  Coordination within one level of the government is difficult enough.  Coordinating between multiple levels will be even more difficult.  There have been issues when two drivers sit at the wheel. Who does the Government Agent in a district report to as he also serves as the District Secretary? What is the protocol when a central deputy minister and provincial minister attend a formal meeting?

The questions noted above have been raised in the past and many remain unresolved and making further units of devolution will be confusion compounded. The irrelevance of the proposed district committees to the solution of the ethnic conflict can be seen by another problem.  The provincial councils, which were formulated to be the solution to the ethnic conflict, and to represent the wishes of the people of each province, do nothing of the sort at the present time, as they are non-functional where people’s representation is concerned.  For the past four years, the provincial councils have only been administrative bodies run by a presidentially appointed governor who can act, and does act arbitrarily, without consulting the people of the province.  During this period, elections to the provincial councils have not been held.  Far from being institutions of devolved power, the provincial councils now represent the centralised power of the state, both unfortunately and perniciously.

The ability of the government to neutralise the provincial councils by the undemocratic method of not permitting elections to be held for 4 years gives impetus to the Tamil community’s rejection of them.  The provincial councils were brought into existence in 1987 as the main democratic part of the solution to the ethnic conflict. They were meant to provide the people of each province with the power to decide on locally relevant matters.  But this right has been denied to them.  This would be the main reason why the demand for federalism is once again coming to the fore. In a landmark judgement the Supreme Court in August 2017 with Chief Justice Priyasath Dep presiding ruled that “Advocating for a Federal form of Government within the existing State could not be considered as advocating Separatism.” The court dismissed a petition that ITAK (or Federal Party) had, as one of its “aims” and “objects” the establishment of a Separate State.

POSITIVE RESPONSE

The TNA which is the largest Tamil party (with ITAK as its major component) has responded positively to the president’s announcement that he intends to seek a solution to the ethnic conflict by the 75th anniversary of Independence.  They have said that they will seek a solution on the basis of federalism.  Their spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran has pointed out that there are more than 25 countries in the world which have federal system and they are very much united, and contain over 40 percent of the world’s population.  The United States, India, Switzerland and Malaysia are examples of federal states.  The key feature in a federal state is that the government will not be able to change the way a provincial council is governed.  Certainly, the government will not be able to arbitrarily postpone elections to a provincial council for four years and then run it centrally through a governor of its own choice.

On the other hand, from the time that the Tamil polity has asked for federalism, beginning in the 1950s, the Sinhalese polity has rejected it as being injurious to the country’s national sovereignty and security.  There is misapprehension that federalism might be the first step to secession. The examples of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia are given as examples of federal states that broke up on the lines of their federal units.  The Sinhalese position is that a unitary form of government would protect the country from being divided in this manner.  However, even unitary states have been divided if they did not manage their ethnic relations in a constructive manner as was the case in Sudan (which divided into South Sudan) and Serbia (Kosovo). The enlightened reasoning and decision of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court in 2017 needs to be explained to the political parties and to the general population.

The 18th century English poet Alexander Pope wrote “For Forms of Government let fools contest whatever is best administered is best.”  Just across the seas from Sri Lanka the world has a good example of a diverse and huge country that has held together as one and is now getting stronger and stronger, both in terms of its economic might, but also its international stature.  The Indian form of government is neither wholly federal nor wholly unitary, but can take on aspects of either as the situation demands.  In times of peace it is federal, in times of stress it can become unitary.  This was the solution that India and Sri Lanka agreed to in the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 and which was distorted in the 13th Amendment.  Recently in parliament, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa went one step forward to say he was for discussions on 13th Amendment plus. India has been Sri Lanka’s best saviour at the present time in terms of the economic crisis, giving Sri Lanka far more than other countries.  With India’s political support to a political solution based on its own learning and experience, a viable solution can be found and Sri Lanka can forge ahead as a truly united nation to economic development.

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Top acts heading overseas…for 31st night

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Sohan & The X-Periments, and the new-look Mirage outfit, will not be around to usher in the New Year – 2023.

While The X-Periments will take a break, from 31st night activities, their leader Sohan will be away, in the UK, making sure that the folks, over there, have a ball, as the New Year approaches…and after!

He will be at the Honeymoon Banquet Hall, in Hounslow, London, together with the band Roots, and guest artiste Damin David – UK Lankan’s Voice Winner – to welcome 2023.

This dinner dance will commence at 7.00 pm and wind up at 1.00 am, and will be held in typical Sri Lankan style, with kiribath, tea, coffee, after the countdown.

Among the highlights will be the selection of the New Year Queen.

This will be Sohan’s third trip to the UK, for this year, and it did come as a surprise, he says, adding that he is glad that he is in demand in the UK, as well.

Sohan will also take wing for Australia, to perform at a very important event – a concert to honour the late Desmond de Silva.

It will be held on 11th, February, 2023, in New South Wales, and will also feature Mignonne and Suraj, Melantha Perera, Mariazelle, Corrine, and Sohan Pieris, among others.

Honouring the legend…Desmond de Silva

This concert will showcase the music from Desmond’s incredible musical journey…with the Spitfires, Jetliners, Foreign Affair (UK), Replay 6, Desmond and The Impressions, and the baila king himself, in ‘hologram.’

In the meanwhile, the new-look Mirage, who captivated a full house at the Peacock, Berjaya Hotel, Mount Lavinia, last Friday night – December 2nd – is scheduled to head for Oman for two important seasonal gigs – on 23rd December and 31st December.

On Friday, the 23rd, they will be at the Grand Hall, Al Falaj Hotel, in Muscat, for ‘Sri Lankan Musical Night’ – from 3.00 pm onwards.

In addition to their Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve gigs, the General Manager of the Al Falaj Hotel, Praveen George, indicated to me that Mirage will also be seen in action at a few more events, in Oman.

Down Under, too, elaborate plans are being made to celebrate the dawning of another New Year.

Two popular bands, in Melbourne, Replay 6 and Ebony, will be at the Grand On Princess, to provide the right kind of music to make this New Year’s Dinner Dance nostalgic.

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