Electricity shocks in Sri Lanka

Feb 18 (IL) As the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) battled hard to provide uninterrupted electricity to the nation amidst a severe drought, the government has approved a CEB suggestion to impose a Re. 1/- surcharge on all domestic, commercial and industrial sectors from next month.

The CEB owing to the dry weather and the soaring financial bills due to the overuse of thermal power requested the government to either infuse the board financially or else let charge the consumers. The government has now given the green light to the proposal.

The surcharge scheme would affect all domestic consumers who use more than 400 units per month. According to CEB chairman M. Zubair, domestic consumers who use more than 400 units will have to pay an additional Re. 1/- per every extra unit used after they reach the 400-unit mark. All establishments in the commercial and industrial sector will have to pay Re. 1/- per unit after they reach the 1000 unit mark. (Eg: if a home consumes 460 units for a particular month, they will have to pay an additional Rs. 60/- for the extra 60 units consumed as the surcharge, outside their normal electricity bill.)

Households in the urban areas will be affected mainly with the Re.1/- surcharge, as they tend to consume more electricity than houses in remote areas. Domestic users with air conditioners, deepfreezers are sure to come under this surcharge.

Meanwhile a persistent CEB chairman assured that despite the drought and the excessive financial expenditure, the CEB would not impose the dreaded power cuts. "The Prime Minister, the Minister of Power and Energy and I have ruled out the 'power cuts' theory as non optional."

However the general notion is that there wouldn't be any power cuts till April, but it could be imposed after the general elections with a new government, but once again Mr. Zubair dismissed these fears saying that the present management has vowed to continue supplying uninterrupted power to the people. "This is the task of the CEB as a government authority to provide uninterrupted electricity and we will not go back on this despite certain hitches (power cuts) in the past."

Mr. Zubair also renewed his plea to the general public to conserve electricity. He also called upon all establishments to generate their own electricity if possible and get off the CEB's system till the situation returns to normal.

He also pointed out that since Minister Karu Jayasuriya's and the board's appeal to the public to conserve electricity, the CEB has noticed a reduction in consumption, but he added that the improvement cannot be attributed to anything specific