President Rajapaksa opens Upper Kothmale Hydro-power Plant Tunnel for the public today
Onlanka News – By Janaka Alahapperuma
(Pix by: Sudath Silva)
President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the Upper Kothmale tunnel which is considered to be the longest tunnel in the country this morning (Thursday) on 04 November. This tunnel is 12.9 km in length and has a diameter of 5.2 meters to carry water from the Kothmale stream to the Kothmale Hydro-power plant which is an underground powerhouse located at Niyamgamdora.
The Upper Kothmale Hydro-power plant construction project was launched in March 2006. Earlier it was delayed for over a decade due to various social and environmental issues. Later it was commenced on the directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa just a few months after assuming duties in 2005.
Minister of Power & Energy, Patali Champika Ranawaka said the government aims to provide electricity for all citizens by the year 2012. The demand for electricity has been growing at an annual rate of 7-8 percent and is expected to increase due to the liberation of the entire North and the East, and dividends of development being delivered to the rural areas.
The construction work was carried out in five phases. Director of the project Shavendranath Fernando said that the construction work has been accelerated recently and nearly 65 percent of the total project now has been completed. The remaining work expected to be completed soon, he further added.
The Upper Kothmale Hydro-power plant will add 150 MW to the national grid by the end of 2011. It is expected to generate 409 million units of power annually. The Government of Japan has provided a loan of Japanese Yen 33,265 million while the Ceylon Electricity Board also provides funds Rs 87,000 million for the project. The Upper Kothmale is almost the last large scale Hydro-power project to be built in Sri Lanka.
Ministers, Champika Ranawaka, Arumugam Thondaman and C.B.Rathnayake, Deputy Ministers Muttu Sivalingam, Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Premalal Jayasekera, Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake and Japanese Ambassador in Sri Lanka Kunio Takahashi were present.
Pictured here the President and the invited guests including government officials inspecting the construction work after opening the project and the Ariel views of the Upper Kothmale project and the newly built housing complex for the relocated local residents.
After the official opening it is now open for public for three days to view the tunnel.
This is just the beginning of what is to be realized under the Mahinda Chintanaya. The building of infrastructure such as power for industries and houses, island-wide road network, clean water, and even piped-gas, telecommunications network are essential for development in par with the developed world, to become the ‘Wonder of Asia’.
However, there are some aspects of the developed world which we should not emmulate. For instance, extensive use of hydrocarbon fossil fuels to produce elctricity. That is, dependence on coal and fuel oil to drive turbines to produce electricity. In the West their use is now gradually being curtailed to be replaced by large panels of solar powered batteries(in houses as well as factories, wind farms (i.e. many acres of high wind-powered modern windmills), methane gas from bio-mass decomposition (ie, from human and animal waste and rubbish)used to drive steam turbines to produce electricity, and nuclear energy for peaceful use.
The problem with burning coal and fuel oil to produce electrical energy is they release harmful gases to the atmosphere, such as, sulpher dioxide and nitric oxide, carbon dioxide and even carbon monoxide. Sulpher dioxide and nitric oxide in the atmosphere mixes with moisture in rain clouds to produce sulhuric acid and nitric acid. When this acid rain falls on the earth it destroys forests and buildings over the years. Norway grows large pine forests for its timber industry. It is a large income generator for Norway. When huge banks of rain clouds polluted with sulhuric and nitric acid is blown across from Britain’s industrial chimneys, belching out noxious fumes from burning fossil fuels, into the Scandinavian countries such as Norway, it is a problem for its timber industry. The timber industry was devastated over the years. Laws were enacted through European Parliament to curtail the burning of fossil fuels in Britain and other European nations. Coal mines in Britain were shut. Only Poland’s coal mines remain open. European countries turn to other cleaner sources of power for their industries and houses.
There is an object lesson for us from this. Norochcholai uses coal to produce electricity. The chimneys blew-up even before it was commissioned. This is because in the initial trial stages, carbon and sulpher powder which had gathered on the walls of the chimneys became a dangerous mixture like gun powder. It heated to such an extent it blew-up. In Britain, every night a powerful blast of air was blown through the chimneys, after shutting-down the operations, to clear the chimneys of the sulpher and carbon powders. These were blown across the atmosphere and settled on peoples’ cars, gardens and roofs. This was another major porblem. Hence the call for the end of fossil burning to produce electricity.
I fear that our forests would be devastated by fossil fuel burning to produce electricity. Our buildings would be ruined. OUR SRI MAHA BODHI WOULD BE UNDER SERIOUS THREAT. I plead with the Hon. President, in his race to produce electricity, not to use coal and fuel oil. PLEASE STOP THE BUILDING OF COAL-FIRED ELECTRICITY GENERATING PLANT IN SAMPUR. The two-pronged, combined effect of Norochcholai and Sampur, will devastate our forests, the flora and fauna, our Sri Maha Bodhi, our archeological sites, our homes etc. Above all, it would cause serious harm to our health. It would cause lung diseases such as asthma and early death to our children.
PLEASE HON. PRESIDENT LEARN THE LESSONS FROM THE MISTAKES OF DEVELOPED WORLD AND TURN TO GREEN-METHODS OF PRODUCING ELECTRICITY, SUCH AS THE ONES I HAVE MENTIONED ABOVE.
My the Tripple Gem bless you and our country!