The Sunday Leader

Confusion And Anger At Arbitrary Power Cuts

By Niranjala Ariyawansha

People are reacting with anger over the arbitrary power cuts being carried out by the Ceylon Electricity Board. The original power cuts of two hours and twenty minutes were extended by another hour after the country’s only coal power plant failed once again. The CEB announced a schedule of areas and times of power cuts but actual power cuts appear to be done in an arbitrary fashion.
“I think this is very unreasonable. We do not know the day,  the time or the areas where the power cuts will be. Therefore we find it difficult to arrange our work. This is a real nuisance. I have a complaint. If there is a power cut, it must be equal for all. But I know my friends living within the Colombo Municipal Council limits have no power cut.  Why is it that there are no power cuts for houses located near D. S. Senanayake  School  on Bullers Road? If it is necessary to have a power cut, we accept it. But it must be reasonable because we all pay our electricity bills. Then we must have power. The Government cannot give power only to areas where their friends live. That is unreasonable. Another thing is that generators are being used by those people with means,” said Mrs. Silva, a teacher living in Koswatta, Nawala.
Mrs. Silva further said that although employed people like her are not at home during daytime it is a tremendous loss to those engaged in small enterprises in the Koswatta area.
“Last week, for two days there was a power cut from 11 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.  There was no power cut yesterday. We do not know what will happen tomorrow. There is a Communication Centre nearby. Children come there mostly during the daytime. But there is no power. This is a big economic loss to these people”.
Many people complain that in the areas they live, one side of the street  has power whereas people on the opposite side suffer with the power cut. This is the situation even down some lanes.  Some people say that the power cuts are not  carried out in areas where people connected to powerful politicians or rich businessmen are residing. There never were power cuts down  Dharmapala Mawatha, in Rajagiriya, Thalapathpitiya  and some areas in Nawala. Similarly residents say that some lanes leading off Rajapihilla Mawatha in Kandy also  did not face any power cuts.
Wilfred Antony  of Modera, Colombo 15 says that although he was ready for the power cuts according to the announcement, there were no power cuts in his area.
“We did not have a power cut at all. Yesterday (August 29th) there was no power for about two hours. According to the newspapers there is a power cut down Modera Street, in Mattakkuliya and in Aluth Mawatha. But up to date they did not cut the electricity supply to these areas,” he said.
However, Mr. Antony observed that according to his friends living in other areas, there is utter confusion. He further said that if the power supply is to be disconnected it must be on an equal basis for all.
Ranjith Silva residing at Peralanda Road, Ragama says that not cutting the power in the Colombo Municipal Council limits and the Katunayake FTZ is justified.
“We accept the fact that if there is no water in the reservoirs due to the drought, it is necessary to have  power cuts. But there must be a proper way of doing that. When we go to some place there is no electricity. Then if we go to another place also there is no power. Nobody knows when they will have power. No one knows when it will be cut and when it will be restored. We just wait for the  power cut without doing anything. Is it correct to treat people like this?” he asked.
“We know Colombo and Katunayake are places where large scale production is taking place.  Therefore it is reasonable that  there is no power cut in the CMC limits and in Katunayake. But in other areas it must be done according to a system. This is not the way to do it.  They are treating us like animals,” he added.
Most of the people The Sunday Leader spoke with appear to be very critical  of the  way in which the Minister for Power and Energy is handling the crisis.
A rich Tamil businessman living in Bambalapitia, who wished to remain anonymous had this to say: “We are happy that we have no power cuts. That is because we are in Colombo.  If we were outside Colombo we will have to  undergo  difficulties. This is very unreasonable. In this country nothing happens in the way the government says. Nobody knows when the power supply will be cut and when it will be restored. This is madness. The government is an institution elected by the people. People have a right to know what is happening. If the people do not know even about the electricity supply for which they pay, why should there be a government? Power is not the property of the government.  But the government is using it as its own property”.
Sujatha Ekanayake from Kirivandeniya Road, Pinnawala, Rambukkana said that they were using the power cuts to get political advantage.
“For the last two or three weeks we had  power cuts only on one day. That is also because there was some repair work. We are happy that we do not have power cuts. But people say this is because of the former Chief Minister’s influence. If there was no election, we too will have power cuts,” she said.
A high ranking official at the Head Office of the Ceylon Electricity Board  was able to enlighten us on these irregular power cuts. He said that he was aware of the complaints and said that what people say was true.
“What people say is hundred percent  correct. But there is nothing we can do. We ourselves do not know when and where the power supply will be disconnected.  We know it is a huge problem for the people. But these are orders coming from above,” he said.
This officer who did not wish to be identified further said that the causes for the power crisis were the short-sighted actions of the government  and the low quality of the Lak Wijaya power plant in Norochcholai, installed through a transaction with China as a result of a political agenda.
Jayantha Wijeratna of Wella Veediya, Negombo was infuriated by these power cuts and said, “I am very angry about this. Everything should be done within reason. Wella Veediya where I reside has many Churches and Kovils. But they cut electricity every morning from 8.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m.  But there is power in Katunayake. Colombo city also has no power cuts.  This is like the ‘Colombata Kiri Gamata Kekiri’ story’.”
“This government once said that they will even supply electricity to India. This is only talk. The only good thing this government did was to stop the war. They must be thinking that they can be in power forever. Although they cut our electricity supply, they have electricity to play day and night cricket. That Norochcholai plant is always breaking down. What has happened there? They have installed a low quality plant.  Now they say this is wrong and that is wrong and it has not been maintained properly, etc.  What is this nonsense?” Wijeratna queried.
“One day I called the Electricity Board Hotline and asked them about the schedule. They said that this is the present schedule, but it can change. However they were unable to tell me how it will change. See, this is a funny answer. The government is giving electricity to places they favour while others have to suffer without power.”
Mohamad Fathima of Nuwara Eliya had a different story. “Every day we have a power cut at 8 a.m. Power is restored only at 11 a.m. But certain places nearby have no power cuts at all. I do not know whether we have power cuts because we are poor,” she said.
R. S. Wickramasinghe from Galle says that he is not concerned about the power cuts as they do not know anything about it.
“Honestly we do not know when power cuts take place. We have power at times. Just as we don’t know what this government is doing, we also do not know when power will be available. This government is not concerned about what happens to people,” he said. Wickramasinghe further said that the government was wasting as much and the whole country would be in total darkness in the near future.
However during last few days there have been rains in the hydro power generating areas. But it may not be sufficient and the power cuts may continue. People are not complaining about the power cuts. They are angry about the  irregular and unreasonable way in which the power cuts are being implemented.

Colombata Kiri; Gamata Kekiri

Champika Ranawaka Minister for Power and Energy

There is no power cut in the commercial areas of Colombo. There is no power cut during the night. We informed the people about the power cuts through a newspaper announcement. Accordingly the whole island is divided into four sections and the power cut is implemented section by section. Each area will have no power on certain days only.
In addition to this, we have about 2000-3000 breakdowns. These may be due to the high salt content in the coastal areas or weather conditions or rains in the  up country. We are  concerned about the  difficulties people undergo due to power cuts.
We think power cuts will not be necessary by next week if we are able to generate power at the Lak Wijaya Power Plant in Puttalam. However we think people are also responsible to some extent for this power crisis. It is the people of this country who prevented  the construction of the Puttalam Power  Plant  from 1990 to 2005. We expect this issue to be resolved with the commencement of the second stage at Puttalam in 2013.

10 Comments for “Confusion And Anger At Arbitrary Power Cuts”

  1. Pibi

    Mr. Minister, Please don’t palm over the responsibility to the ordinary people in this country. It’s you who is the minister in charge. You must take the responsibility. You have displayed your incapability of resolving matters right along. Even when you were in charge of the environment you only found shortcuts to solve problems. You were never reasonable and balanced. For example you taxed the mobile phone users by imposing a tax on the bill for its battery damaging the environment. Why didn’t you impose a tax only on the battery purchases which would have been the right thing to do? Please don’t insult the intelligence of the people.

  2. Pibi

    Mr. Minister, Please don’t palm over the responsibility to the ordinary people in this country. It’s you who is the minister in charge. You must take the responsibility. You have displayed your incapability of resolving matters right along. Even when you were in charge of the environment you only found shortcuts to solve problems. You were never reasonable and balanced. For example you taxed the mobile phone users by imposing a tax on the bill for its battery damaging the environment. Why didn’t you impose a tax only on the battery purchases which would have been the right thing to do? Please don’t insult the intelligence of the people.

  3. Kareen

    Minister announced yesterday there would be no powercut on Saturday(01.09.2012) and sunday(01.09.2012). But in Akkaraipattu, in Ampara there was no elctricity from 11AM to 3PM yesterday, Satureday(01.09.2012). What is the meaning of it. Theysay power cut from 08.20 AM somedays but it goes at 08.05AM.who plays here. In the mean, I see there is no control over street lamps. Yesterday, I promiss here, it was cloudy and thundering by 04.00 PM. I saw in one particular lanes the lights were on by 04.10PM. And in the morning I see the lights will be on till 07.30 AM too. Earlier in one instance I called Ampara regional office regarding the street lights, they said to complain the local body in Akkaraipattu, but I coudnot get their number. You we are wasting power in carnivals too in Colombo and other areas, especially in the time crisis. This Nuracholai power station came only reacently. But we had manged this type of crisis earlier too. True, more demands now, but it is a wonder why more powercut? Please consider all these.

  4. Mohan

    There may have been a delay to establish the Putlam power plant. But the UPFA did proceed to establish it when ir was finally possible to overcome objections. It was therefore the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the plant established was technologically sound and functioned properly. Passing even part of the blame to the public is adding insult to injury.

  5. When we have idiots on top jobs what can you expect?

  6. jehan

    when we have a racist this is what we get.

  7. Ratna Kelanigama

    Cannot stand this racist megalomaniac who is a good for nothing.
    I honestly have no idea how this idiot got degree in Engineering. This country will never been clean until someone wipe out these trash from the parliament. in fact this entire stinking regime must be sent home for good.
    JHU SLMC must be banned along with Tamil racist parties. They dont do anything for their community. For Srilanka to come back to its normalcy, religion/race should be taken out from every application form. We are not all Srilankans not Sinhala Tamil Muslim or Burgers.
    Why not start the game with chasing this harmful anti-social hopeless regime out?

  8. Now blame the British -Suddas for introducing electricity to Sri Lanka or yet another foreign conspiracy. Can anybody tell what our govt. capabilities are.

  9. rufus

    Now that we have already heard your si of the story hope you will pay attention to our side too . Question : (1) Electricity Charges : We understand the old meters which have been there at consumers residences are reading and running at low pace. How can you set a standard to have proper meters which are updated ?
    (2)Why don’t your department visit and check these meters and replace with the actual up to date ones.(3) Some of the electrical cable overhead posts are inclined why don’t your department straighten them ? (4) Road Lamps why not fix solar powered lamps which are cost effective, replace the old conventional ones.



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