By Niranjala Ariyawansha
The Cabinet Paper, compiled by Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, which stressed that the country’s energy policy should have a mix of power generation sources, was approved by the Cabinet yesterday (9).
However, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) said that they will not call off their ongoing work to rule campaign till the Least Cost Long-Term Generation Expansion Plan (LCLTGEP 2018-2037) is ratified. The CEBEU is currently carrying out its work to rule campaign which began on 8 May.
Secretary of the Ministry Dr. Suren Batagoda has already informed the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) to look into whether the LCLTGEP 2018-2037 has been compiled based on the Government energy policy and if so to approve it soon.
But, sources said that Chairman of the PUCSL, Saliya Mathew, instead of looking into the LCLTGEP 2018-2037, had gone overseas yesterday.
Dr. Batagoda said that in such a context the power sector was likely to face a crisis situation.
“Till the Head of the PUCSL returns nothing can be resolved. The Head of the PUCSL says that the LCLTGEP 2018-2037 had not been approved based on the Government policy of no more coal power.
However, its Director General Damitha Kumarasinghe says that it had not been approved as the price of a coal power unit is higher than a Liquefied Natural Gas unit and because low cost power stations have to be built. This is a confusing state of affairs,” said the Ministry Secretary.
But, the President had informed the CEBEU recently that only the stoppage of the Sampur coal power station had been approved by him and that he had never campaigned that there be no more coal power.
Efforts to contact the Director General of the PUCSL several times proved futile.
Explaining matters, President of the CEBEU Sawmya Kumarawadu said, “We are content that the Government has ratified a policy document on the country’s power sector. That could be a document of just two to three pages that has been compiled. But, we began this trade union action not over it. We are demanding that the LCLTGEP 2018-2037 which had been compiled in May last year must be approved by the PUCSL. That cannot be ratified by the Cabinet.”
Another demand of the CEBEU is for the removal of the Director General of the PUCSL.