Underhand elements attempting to impede construction of Sri lanka's coal power plant

Apr 26 (IL) Sri Lanka’s most controversial power project, the Norochcholai coal power plant is facing more obstacles despite Cabinet approval. The latest hurdle includes the new spate of protests against the project supposedly by Catholic and Muslim residents of the area, who reportedly claim that the project is very harmful to the environment. They also claim that if the project is implemented it would bear an effect on their livelihood as the plant and neighboring areas will be marked off as a High Security Zone.

However informed sources alleged that although from the outside it seems like residents who are protesting against the proposed project, the real culprits are the environmental and petroleum lobbies, who are instigating these Norochcholai residents.

“These elements are misleading the public with false and exaggerated claims. And the vulnerable masses are taking to the streets without knowing the reality,” the sources said.

They alleged that the environmental lobbies were really not interested in the country’s environment but had some other ‘hidden agendas’ up their sleeves. “On the other hand the oil lobbies are against the coal power plant because they know once the plant comes into operation, they would lose financially, as then the main electricity generator will be coal and not the oil based power plants,” they note.

However Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) President Ananda Piyatilake told the Daily Mirror that it is high time the government launched an awareness campaign to educate the public on the actual situation once the coal plant is implemented.

“This is not the first time that a coal plant is to be constructed in the world. Even though 65% of Sri Lanka’s power is generated through oil based plant, more than 40% of the world’s electricity is generated through coal,” he noted.

Pointing out that if the plant was as harmful as environmental lobbies claim, then countries such as United States, India and China will not generate vast amounts of electricity through coal.

He stressed that even though there would be pollution due to the burning of coal, this could be minimized. “Technology has been developed to mitigate the coal based pollution as much as possible,” he said. He also queried as to why the ‘so called’ environmental lobbies are keeping mum on the vast pollution caused to the environment due to oil based power generation. Sri Lanka emits 4 to 5 tons of sulphur daily, due to operating large number of thermal power plants.