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PUCSL approves emergency power purchases

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Adequate supply of fuel to power plants could immediately resolve the rolling power outages in the country caused by shortages of 200–400 MW, says Janaka Ratnayake, Chairman of Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, the electricity sector regulator.

“Lack of funds to buy the required fuel to fire power plants is the main reason for continued power interruptions in large parts of Sri Lanka. We also have run down hydro reservoirs as hydro power was used excessively in the months of December last year and January this year to provide electricity,

“The CEB has been forced to shut down 350 MW of Thermal power plants for the past two weeks due to lack of fuel supply. We have generated 76 percent electricity from thermal power plants 19 percent from hydro and five percent electricity from renewable for this month so far. Hydro generation has increased to 22 percent during the month of February this year due to unavailability of fuel for thermal generation plants which stood at 18 percent in the same month last year,

“Apart for the lack of fuel supply, we also have a technical constraint in the Southern grid where we have advised the Ceylon Electricity Board to find immediate solutions way back in 2017 which has not been materialised yet,”

The currency crunch that the country is facing at the moment has delayed the import of fuel, which has led to power cuts countrywide, says Ratnayake.

“We currently are in the forex crisis where we do not have sufficient funds to buy fuel. We can end this power cut if we get sufficient fuel stocks to operate our power plants,”

Ratnayake says the PUCSL is also aware of the financial issue that the Ceylon Electricity Board is going through.

“We are aware. We have asked electricity consumers to pay their bills on time to reduce the financial burden of the CEB to a certain extent. But the issue is bigger. The electricity generation cost has increased 120 percent from the last tariff hike. The generation cost per electricity unit at the moment is 37 rupees. But we are providing an electricity unit at 16 -17 rupees on average, which does not reflect the actual generation cost. Also, the price of a crude oil barrel in the world market has increased to 113 dollars this year. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka also had taken a decision to float the rupee given the current economic conditions which have caused a higher market volatility at present. All these reasons have a much larger impact on the generation cost of electricity. We believe in a cost reflective tariff to strengthen the CEB and the economy of the country while not burdening the electricity consumers,” Ratnayake said.

Commenting on the Southern grid issue, the Chairman of PUCSL said that CEB had been instructed to find long-term solutions for the issue where 100-150 MW of capacity is being lacking at present.

Considering the existing fuel shortage of the country and electrical energy capacity shortage of the CEB, coupled up with the long term forced outage of all thermal power plants at Kelanitissa, Sapugaskanda and Kerawalapitiya due to no fuel with severe depletion of water resources in reservoirs that led to experience more than seven hours daily power cut to the electricity consumers, the cabinet has declared an “emergency situation’ in the energy sector as required under section 43(4) (c ) (ii) of the Sri Lanka Electricity Act in keeping with the directive of the President made on 02nd March 2022.

With that, CEB has requested the approval of 93 MW of capacity under short-term power purchase agreement from ACE Power (Embilipitiya) power plant for months in order to reduce the long hours of power interruptions immediately.

“We approved the request given the priority of the fuel supply to CEB power plants.

“At the same time, we are having a steady long-term plan to ensure continuous supply of electricity to Sri Lanka. We have approved 600 MW of LNG power plant already.”



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Wimal asks for PSC probe into top officials’ complicity in violence

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Colombo HC lawyers concerned over shocking developments

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, says a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) should be appointed to investigate the role played by IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (retd.) Jagath Alwis in the recent SLPP hothead attack on those demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Weerawansa yesterday (18) told The Island that Parliament should inquire into the unprovoked attack that triggered an extremely violent response by the public as well as those awaiting an opportunity to unleash violence on selected group of lawmakers on 09 May.

The former Industries Minister said he was confident that Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, would look into the issues at hand.

Responding to another query, Weerawansa said that Senior DIG Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon’s claim that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary had interfered with his (Tennakoon’s) plan to disperse the SLPP mobs couldn’t be easily dismissed.

MP Weerawansa declared, in Parliament on Tuesday (17), that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry dissuaded the Senior DIG from performing his duties although he had received specific instructions from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stop the march on Galle Face. The former JVPer questioned whether those conspirators wanted to show the world the failure on the part of the police and the armed forces to maintain law and order.

Asked whether police headquarters and the Public Security Ministry had responded to his accusations, Weerawansa said he hadn’t been contacted by them so far.

Pointing out that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), inquiring into 09 May turmoil had recorded Senior DIG’s statement, Weerawansa said that the outfit could issue an interim statement on the matter.

The Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association said that the shocking revelation, made in Parliament, should be expeditiously inquired into.

The Association’s President Attorney-at-Law Lakshman Perera said that the ongoing investigations had taken an unexpected turn in the wake of high profile specific allegations pertaining to the conduct of the IGP, as well as the Public Security Ministry Secretary. Pointing out that the HRCSL and the CID had already recorded DIG Tennakoon’s statement, pertaining to the incidents, and the officer was among a group of 22 persons slapped with a travel ban by the Fort Magistrate, lawyer Perera said that the CID couldn’t turn a blind eye to accusations directed at the head of the department as well as Secretary to the relevant ministry.

Lawyer Perera said that investigations couldn’t be completed without verifying accusations made in Parliament.

Lawmaker Weerawansa said that the question was on whose behalf the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary intervened at a time the country was under emergency and after the Senior DIG in charge of Colombo received specific instructions from the President himself.

Although the SLPP goons did not shed any blood or cause any serious injuries, unlike the well-organized mobs that caused havoc across the country thereafter, MP Weerawansa said that he couldn’t comprehend why the police and the armed forces allowed the situation to develop to an extremely dangerous level.

The HRCSL in its initial reaction to the unprovoked attacks on those who had been demanding the resignation of the government condemned the violence caused by a group of people who made it very clear that violence was their intention.

HRCSL Chairperson retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe said: “The failure of the police to prepare for this eventuality and prevent and manage the violence and destruction is a gross failure of public order. There must be an immediate inquiry into this matter. The inaction of the police to prevent the clash is condemned.”

The Island brought the latest developments to the notice of the HRCSL yesterday as MP Weerawansa said that those who conspired and planned the project that involved those at the helm of Temple Trees then and the SLPP should be arrested. The conspirators shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice while the CID arrested those who carried out the actual attacks.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the department couldn’t respond to what transpired in Parliament. Acknowledging that he was aware of the allegations made in Parliament, Attorney-at-Law Thalduwa said in case their response was sought through proper channels, whatever the queries would be answered.

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Dr. Pathirana says IGP, Public Security Ministry Secy. allowed goon attacks

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Galle District parliamentarian Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has reiterated that IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Secretary to the Public Security Ministry, Maj. General (retd) Jagath Alwis had facilitated the 09 May unprovoked attack on anti-government protesters.

The former Minister Pathirana declared in Parliament yesterday (18) that National Freedom Front (NFF) leader MP Wimal Weerawansa’s allegation, pertaining to the origins of the violence, was true.

Dr. Pathirana said that he was among those who had brought supporters to attend a meeting chaired by the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vast majority of those who attended the Temple Trees meet on May 09 wanted to thank the war-winning President as he gave up active politics, the MP said. However, some unscrupulous members had instigated the participants there.

Dr. Pathirana said he had been at Temple Trees at that time and as he feared violence could erupt due inflammatory speeches, contact was made with Senior DIG in charge of Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon. Dr. Pathirana said that the senior police officer had assured him that the police were ready to face the situation and confident of preventing those who attended the Temple Trees function from reaching Galle Face.

“Thereafter, I left Temple Trees for a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There were several other members. When trouble erupted, President Rajapaksa immediately got in touch with Senior DIG Tennakoon, who revealed he had been asked not to use force by the IGP himself.”

Dr. Pathirana said the President had asked the senior law enforcement officer why he didn’t carry out instructions issued by him (the President).

The Galle District MP emphasised that the IGP and the Secretary to the Public Security Ministry were responsible for the violence at Kollupitiya and Fort police areas which triggered violence in many parts of the country. (SF)

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New Deputy Speaker not from Rajapaksa political dynasty

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Newly-elected Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa said that he was not a member of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s clan.

The Hambantota District Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawmaker said so when The Island asked him whether he, too, was a member of the Rajapaksa family now under fire over the continuing political-economic-social turmoil.

Rajapaksa polled 109 votes at a secret vote held in Parliament on Tuesday (17) to secure the Deputy Speaker’s post. MP Rajapaksa defeated Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Rohini Kaviratne, who polled 78 votes.

The SLPP rebel group members refrained from voting for Rajapaksa after the top SLPP leadership ignored their appeal to fill the vacancy through consultations with the SJB.

Rajapaksa succeeded SLFP’s Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who quit the post twice, the second occasion after beating SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at a secret vote.

Deputy Speaker Rajapaksha said that he had served as the Chairman of the Ambalanthota Pradeshiya Sabha in 1997. Subsequently, he became a member of the Southern Provincial Council.

Asked whether he was a resident of the Rajapaksas’ home base, Deputy Speaker said that he was from Pallerotta, Ambalantota. (SF)

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