Power crisis due to mafia within CEB – Handunnetti

Sunil Handunnetti

Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), JVP Parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti today (3) lambasted the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) for its continuous failure to heed the warning of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) in coming up with a long term plan for power generation.

Handunnetti said that even President Maithripala Sirisena blamed the PUCSL. “Even he has friends who are involved in the fraud and therefore he prefers to turn a blind eye and blame some other party,” he alleged, pointing out that even Minister of Power and Energy, Ravi Karunanayake is aware of what was taking place. There were top officials in the Ministry involved in this fraud, he further alleged.

The PUCSL issued warning signals to the CEB on 31 March 2016 that there would be a severe power crisis. It urged them to develop a power management system at the national level. It also called for the CEB to develop a plan for renewable energy, he said, observing that Sri Lanka had adequate sunlight and wind for this purpose.

Addressing the Media at the JVP head office in Battaramulla, Handunnetti said that although the Government wanted the people to believe that the power cuts were due to the lack of rainfall and water, the latter had nothing to do with the present power cuts that were being implemented in the country. It is the failure of the CEB to come up with a long term plan for power generation, he added. The country would have to go through the same process next year and in 2021 and 2022 as proper tender procedures and procurement plans have not been adhered to, he further added, noting that these are things that could be done even now.

Handunnetti said that last year the COPE had been forced to summon the CEB and the PUCSL to discuss the issue. “We questioned as to why the CEB engineers continued to ignore the cautioning of the PUCSL in formulating such a plan so that the public would not be severely inconvenienced by power cuts. However, the engineers stated that they would only adhere to it if one of the top officials of the PUCSL was removed. The PUCSL was finally forced to take legal action against the CEB and go to Court. As a result, the Board has been summoned to Court on 9 April,” he said.

The CEB and its engineers prefer to carry out emergency power purchasing while inconveniencing people with power cuts, he claimed, adding that the present power cuts had impacted the economy of the entire country as well.

The reason behind this colossal power crisis is the mafia within the CEB which prefers emergency power purchasing rather than listening to the cautioning of the PUCSL, he observed.

Hadunnetti said that 130 Mega Watts could be obtained from generators belonging to Government institutions. Even a Cabinet paper was submitted in this regard to no avail, he added. “It was better for those involved in the power and energy fraud to bring down a barge from Turkey which is scheduled to reach Sri Lanka on 8 April, 2019.  There were further 50 generators of which only three were being operated,” he added.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Dilanthi Jayamanne)

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