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SL will save Rs. 12 billion annually with commissioning of Kerawalapitiya LNG Power Plant



By Ifham Nizam

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa assured that the whole country will have access to electricity before the end of this year.

“Ninety nine per cent of the population have electricity at present. There are only 84,000 families who still don’t have access to power”, the premier said at the inauguration of the construction of the Kerawalapitiya Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Power Plant with a capacity of 350 MW, on Friday.

 The Prime Minister stressed that the objective of the government is to provide electricity at a competitive price using modern technology in the world.

Power and Energy Minister Dullas Alhaperuma said that the price of a unit of electricity generated through conventional diesel power plants is between Rs. 25-30.

 The unit price of electricity further increases to between Rs. 30-45 when emergency purchases are required during periods of high demand.

 The unit price of electricity produced at the Kerawalapitiya Natural Gas Power Plant, which has now commenced construction would cost only Rs. 15, he noted. 

Alhaperuma said the new power plant has the potential to generate 13% of the country’s current electricity demand or 2,000 million electricity units annually, saving Rs. 12 billion annually to the country.

 It will save the country Rs. 240 billion over a period of 20 years, he said.

 He also said that the new power plant to be constructed at Kerawalapitiya-Wattala has been designed in accordance with international standards with a minimal impact on the environment.

The power plant will be equipped with a F- class gas turbine which has very high efficiency compared to other gas turbines installed in the country.

The Kerawalapitiya Power Plant is a combined cycle power plant and will be completed in two phases.

 CEB Chiarman Eng. Vijitha Herath said that the first phase, or the installation of a gas turbine, will generate 220 MW, which will be completed within 21 months and synchronized to the national grid.

 He said that the second phase will add a further 130 MW to the national grid via a steam turbine, which is expected to be completed within 12 months. The plant will augment Sri Lanka with a total capacity of 350 MW over the next three years.

 Lakdhanavi is responsible for the investment, engineering design, construction, commissioning, maintenance and operation of the new power plant. Lakdhanavi, which is a subsidiary of LTL Holdings Group, a local company since 1996. It is an industry leader synonymous with the construction of qualitative and feasible power plants in Sri Lanka as well as in South Asia, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal and the Middle East and East Africa.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have agreed to provide financial assistance for the construction of the power plant.

Just as low-cost power generation is significant for the future development of Sri Lanka, the construction of low-cost power plants is equally essential, industry officials remarked.

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AG says no legal impediment to Bathiudeen attending Parliament



Public Security Minister: Those detained under PTA shouldn’t be allowed in

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, says there is no legal impediment to Opposition MP Rishad Bathiudeen attending Parliament while being detained in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

The CID arrested the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) in the early hours of April 24 for aiding and abetting the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombers.

Multiple blasts in different locations killed 270 people and wounded about 500.

The AG set the record straight in the wake of the CID failing to arrange for MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament on May 4 and 5.

The Island learns that Police Headquarters recently consulted the AG as regards the legality of the Vanni District SJB MP attending parliamentary sessions and the SJB, on his behalf, requested the Speaker to facilitate the arrangements.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. Its parliamentary group comprises four, including Bathiudeen.

The police sought the AG’s advice after having received a missive from Serjeant at arms Narendra Fernando in that regard. The AG has advised the police that MP Bathiudeen could attend parliamentary sessions.

However, Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera has advised the police against the ACMC leader attending Parliament. The Minister has issued instructions in this regard having requested the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to prevent those detained under the PTA from attending parliament.

MP Bathiudeen has been detained for a period of 90 days pending investigations. His brother Riyajj too has been detained under PTA for 90 days.

 Minister Weerasekera, in Parliament yesterday (5) defended his decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament. Dismissing concerns raised by SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka and TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran about the ACMC leader being deprived of his right to attend parliament sessions, Minister Weerasekera emphasized that he was responsible for public security.

Minister Weerasekera reminded Speaker Abeywardena that he had requested him not to allow anyone detained under PTA to attend parliament pending conclusion of investigations.

Weerasekera said that the CID wouldn’t have detained the MP concerned without valid reasons.

Perhaps, Field Marshal Fonseka had no concerns for public security, the former Navy Chief of Staff said, emphasising that the government wouldn’t conduct investigations the way the former Army Commander and the TNA spokesman desired.

Bathiudeen earlier served in the Cabinets of President Mahinda Rajapaksa (2010-2014) and President Maithripala Sirisena (2015-2019). The ACMC switched its allegiance to SJB at the 2020 August parliamentary election after having backed Sajith Premadasa’s candidature at the 2019 presidential.

Bathiudeens’ lawyer Rushdhie Habeeb told The Island that the decision to prevent MP Bathiudeen from attending parliament was political. Habeeb said that the issue at hand would be raised vigorously, both here and abroad, and a media briefing would be called soon to explain the situation.

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MONLAR draws attention to ticking COVID time bomb in plantations



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of estate workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and given the generally congested living environment and lack of health facilities on plantations, the entire estate sector was a ticking time bomb, Moderator of the Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Chinthaka Rajapakshe said yesterday.

Rajapakshe told The Island  that the latest outbreak on the estates had occurred after the return of some persons from Colombo during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

“We had warned that this would happen. People kept on returning home although the preparedness of the plantation economy to face a COVID-19 outbreak was non-existent.”

 “If one person gets it, the entire line will get it, and therefore urgent steps should be taken to minimise COVID-19 spread,” Rajapakshe said, adding that such an eventuality would not only destroy lives but also cripple the plantation sector, causing an enormous loss to the state coffers.



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Clandestine dealings of fishers will precipitate spread of deadly Indian variant here – Expert



By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a risk of the deadly Indian COVID-19 variant spreading to Sri Lanka as well, Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera told the media yesterday in Colombo.

Dr. Samaraweera said that Sri Lankan fishermen continued to interact with their Indian counterparts in mid-sea and therefore it was only a matter of time before the Indian variant entered Sri Lanka.

“We must be extremely vigilant. We have seen the devastation caused by this variant in India. These mid-sea interactions by the fishing community must be stopped.”

Dr. Samaraweera added that although the Dambulla Economic Centre

had been reopened for business yesterday morning, health officials had been compelled to close five shops as their owners violated the Covid-19 protocol.    

“This is a commercial hub where people from all parts of the country converge. So, if there are COVID-19 cases here, then it will spread across the country. Therefore, people have to act carefully and responsibly.”

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