Unless monsoon begins in September
By Gagani Weerakoon
Admitting it is impossible to provide an uninterrupted power supply, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka informed Parliament yesterday that an exacerbated power crisis is inevitable if the monsoon does not start by mid September.
Making a special ministerial statement, Ranawaka said water levels of all main reservoirs have dropped drastically, hindering hydro power generation.
“If an adequate rainfall does not take place in catchment areas in the next few days, we will be compelled to stop hydro power generation from Victoria and Randenigala reservoirs, thus putting an end to hydro power generation. It is a grave situation as the thermal power generation in the country is not sufficient,” he said.
The minister also said, so far, the water levels in the main reservoirs were used after allocation for drinking water and agriculture purposes. However, the situation will not be so in the coming weeks, he said, urging all parties to corporate fully in conserving energy by considering the present situation as a national crisis.
“Even though, we could have opted for thermal power generation under normal circumstances, when there is adequate rainfall to generate hydropower, our situation is worse as there are issues pertaining to thermal power generation,” he said.
The minister also said it was the past administration’s failure to envisage a possible power crisis in the future and take steps to put up alternative power generating plants, as the reasons for the present sorry situation in the power and energy sector.
“The proposal to set up coal power plants came into the arena even before 1990 and none of the successive governments were able to set it up as they had to give into various kinds of protests and pressures. We were finally able to put up a coal power plant after 21 years, but that too was not under best circumstances,” he added.
The minister speaking further said the Norochcholai coal power plant too is facing lots of technical shortcomings as a result of the accelerated constructions carried out.
“According to initial plans, the coal power plant was to be set up under Japanese technical assistance. Secondly, the plant was to be set up in Trincomalee, where it is best for the supply of coal, as it is close to the harbour. Owing to protests carried out at those times, we were compelled to build this accelerated project in Norochcholai with Chinese assistance,” he added.
Ranawaka also speaking about the ongoing strike by the Ceylon Electricity Board employees said nobody should, under any circumstances, test the patience of the government and the society.