PSC Sought On Norochcholai
By Rasika Jayakody
Opposition political parties, CEB trade unions and the National Electricity Consumers Movement are now pushing for a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to investigate into problems involving the first phase of the Norochcholai coal power plant. Since commencement in December 2011, the coal power plant, constructed by China Machinery and Engineering Corporation (CMEC), has experienced more than 20 breakdowns, incurring a huge financial loss to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, UNP Parliamentarian Ajith P Perera said the government should immediately appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate into “deliberate blunders” made during the process of construction.
“The power plant has been built on an ‘unsolicited tender’, without taking any other competitive tender into consideration. The same contractor has handled every aspect of the construction without getting any other party involved in the process. Also, there is a serious question about the cost involving the construction. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, the only option is to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into the problem,” the UNP parliamentarian said.
“The government is about to commence the second stage of the Norochcholai coal power plant and it is important to start the investigation before the commencement of the second stage,” he asserted.
Bandula Chandrasekara, Advisor to the National Electricity Consumers Movement, also told The Sunday Leader that there should be a proper investigation at parliamentary level as the CEB too is partly responsible for what he termed as the present debacle.
“The cost of one electricity unit at the Norochcholai plant is making a debilitating effect on the CEB as it is in stark contrast with the ‘Cost Generation Plan’ of the CEB. The plan was made at the beginning of the year. The reason for the difference is that the CEB has not taken the foreign exchange variation and coal price fluctuations in the world market into consideration, when making the initial plan. Therefore, in the Cost Generation Plan, the production cost of a unit stands at a lower rate than the actual cost. This has now become a serious concern for the CEB,” he added.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Lanka Electricity Board Employees’ Union Ranjan Jayalal said the CEB officials, who served as members of the technical evaluation committees and tender boards, should be held responsible for the breakdowns in the plant and heavy losses incurred by the CEB.
“Some officials went to China with their families thanks to technical evaluations and other similar operations. It is clear that they have not done their job. We urge the government to start an inquiry. As much as the Chinese company is responsible for the breakdowns in the Norochcholai coal power plant, those officials too should take the blame for the problem,” the union leader charged.
He also added that the government should take measures to protect the power plant from the Chinese Company and bring it under the control of CEB engineers. Although The Sunday Leader attempted to contact Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, she was not available to comment.