The Sunday Leader

A Costly Breakdown

The Lakwijaya Coal Power plant in Norochcholai has been shut down for six days so far this year, costing the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) a colossal Rs 432 million to purchase power from thermal sources in order to bridge the shortfall due to the closure. For every day that the coal power plant is shut down, the CEB has to spend Rs 72 million to purchase power from thermal power plants.

Furthermore each start up alone costs Rs 26 million further adding to the losses, and within  the past 24 days the CEB has incurred a loss of Rs 104 million during the four start ups, due to the plant having been shut down four times during this period.

The Sunday Leader reliably learns that during the first six months of last year the Norochcholai coal power plant had been closed for 32 days, while during the second half of last year, it had been closed for periods of between 90 to 100 days. This year too as of last Friday the plant had been inoperative for six days.

The plant commenced generation around 3.45 a.m. on Friday but according to reliable sources, due to a leak in the boiler, the plant had to be shut down once again. The mechanical engineers charge that ever since the Ministry of Power and Energy removed the former General Manager, the plant has suffered continuous breakdowns under the control of the electrical engineers.

However, when questioned as to the reason for the removal of Mr Panditharatne (the former mechanical engineer), the CEB spokesman/ DGM Business and Operational Strategy Senajith Dassanayake said that he had to be removed because he was undermining the credibility of the senior engineers by bypassing them and attending to issues of the minor staff himself.

However, the mechanical engineers claim that this move was made in a bid to prove that this plant cannot be operated by the local engineers and it was a crafty move to hand over the plant to the Chinese.

When contacted by The Sunday Leader, the CEB Additional General Manager, M. C. Wickremasekera said that while the plant commenced operations on Friday morning, they had detected a leak from the repaired condenser and since the load was lesser during the weekend, they had decided to shut down the plant to investigate the problem and conduct the repairs.

7 Comments for “A Costly Breakdown”

  1. Dammika Ranagoda

    All these problems are due to corruption in the ministry of power and energy. They allowed Chinese contractor CMEC to do anything and paid him huge amounts even when the plant was breaking down. These breakdowns will not stop until plant operation and maintenance is handed over to CMEC. In fact there is a hidden MOU signed between treasury and CMEC designed by ministry secretary MMC Ferdinando to handover the plant to CMEC and then buy energy from them . In return they will write off the loan. Chinese are creating all these problems until CEB and Sri Lanka is fed up of it and let the ownership to them. They not only look at the commercial part of the plant but the Geopolitical interest of China at this plant premises which is so close to India. So do not worry the plant breakdowns will continue. CEB engineers are also part of this ploy for the financial gain and Chinese trips (fools they sell the country for a coin)

  2. Kanaga

    It is very sad to note the situation in Coal power plant. When condenser tubes leak salt water enters the steam cycle and some sand also enters. The sand in steam pipes will eat into same. Can damage the turbine blades as well. If it was just condenser leek and if it was repaired quickly is acceptable. If original leak was on Boiler tube it was impossible repair so quickly unless they used the other boiler to feed the first stage Turbines. When condenser leak appears it is essential that boiler water is tested and replaced if there is any salinity or sand in the boiler tube it has to be cleaned. Now we are in much difficulty by trying to start quickly.
    “Norochcholai out again: CEB may now seek help from India” – is the report on another sunday news paper. Ceylon Electricity Board spokesman Senajith Dasanayake’s coments has to be noted.

    May be now both are damaged. A detailed study to solve the problem isnow essential than just finding fault with different people.

  3. MaPer

    ALWAYS BREAK DOWN. Can the government publicise how many days this project has been in operation, and how many days it has been working, and how many days there have been breakdowns. The public have a right to know as it is we who are paying the elecgtricity bills.

  4. Lal.Fernando.

    In fighting goes on.People of the country suffers. Utterly corrupt individuals made there money by building this pwer plant. This plant will never ever operate efficently.Another white elephant inherited by Sri Lanka.

  5. Malcolm X

    This is certainly a WHITE ELEPHANT

  6. Sarath

    China decommissioned 7500 small coal fired power plants in 2006. Coincidentally, the ill-fated Norocholai Power Station will be constructed in three segments of 300MW each. Work began in 2006.

    The total price Sri Lanka paid was $1400 million. Of this, $400 million was paid as commission. To whom? I leave the answer to the readers’ imagination.

  7. Mohamed

    This the way of giving business to Thermal power companies. I am sure some one is earning

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