The Sunday Leader

Heavy Rains: But No Lion’s Share For Catchment Areas

by Ifham Nizam

Heavy rains caused havoc

Heavy rains, which caused havoc in most parts of the country recently, isn’t a blessing this time to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) catchments or for the much needed hydro intake.

When contacted, Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) President Athula Wanniarachchi told The Sunday Leader that heavy rains were mostly on low levels. However, due to rains later on there was slight improvement, yet it is lesser than 45 per cent of the storage capacity.

Officials said usually it is much higher between 60 and 70 per cent or more.

In other words despite the heavy rains in most parts of the country, the water levels in the six main hydro-power reservoirs, there is a slight increase in comparison to previous years. This time water levels had increased only by about 15 per cent or so.

CEB officials termed it as a ‘bad show’ as usually catchment areas get the Lion’s share. However, this time it was the other way around.

By Friday evening, despite light showers, reservoir storage stood at 609.2Gwh. Laxapana Complex Hydro 0.90 Gwh, 3.04 per cent, Mahaweli Complex Hydro 3.46 GWh, 11.65 per cent, Kukule Ganga 1.24 Gwh, 4.17, CEB Small Hydro 1.1 GWh, 3.75 and Samanala Wewa zero per cent.

According to CEB Director (Development) Sulakshana Jayawardena water levels in the six reservoirs of Castlereagh, Mausakelle, Samanalawewa, Victoria, Randenigala and Kotmale had increased to 42.4 per cent from the 27.3 per cent before the onset of the recent rains.

“Laxapana, Canyon, Norton, Kukuleganga and Upper Kotmale reservoirs had received some rains but they do not have the capacity to store water because they are run-of-river type hydroelectric generation plants,” he said and added that between 25 and 30 per cent of the demand amounting to some 38 Giga Watts was generated by hydro power plants while five per cent from wind power and the rest from thermal power plants.

The demand for power had comparatively decreased these days and added that the average demand stood at 40 gigawatt hours a day from the 43 during the hot-weather season.

The water levels at the six main reservoirs were as follows – Castlereagh 61.0%, Mausakelle 55.9%, Samanalawewa 35.7%, Victoria 31.9%, Randenigala 26.1% and Kotmale 59.2%.

Power has been restored to residents in flood-ravaged districts. Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said they have restored 99 per cent of the power outages caused by the floods.

According to him, the flood situation devastated around 627,000 residential power connections, and regional power supply systems.

“The outage caused by the disaster has been fully restored by Ceylon Electricity Board workers,” he said.

CEB officials and crews worked day and night on electricity outages over the past few days, he said.

“They have replaced power poles and repaired disconnected lines under trying conditions,” he said, and added, “I am proud of them as the Power and Renewable Energy Minister for they have repaired the damage in such a short time.”

Minister Siyambalapitiya said of the total of 5.5 million electricity consumers, electricity supply has been disconnected to 300,000 due to floods in certain parts of the country.

This is entirely due to the flood situation and not because of any issue in the power sector. The biggest power issue is in Matara as the CEB’s substation at Matara was also submerged last week. There are 136,000 electricity consumers at Matara.

However, the electricity was provided to Matara town, hospital and Police Station through an electricity line from Galle while another electricity line was gained from Tangalle to provide electricity to a section of consumers at Matara.

The CEB has a few generators at Matara which has a total capacity of eight MW. Therefore, the rest of the electricity consumers will also be provided with power through these generators once the water levels come down.

Meanwhile, some 100,000 electricity consumers at Ratnapura suffered due to power interruption. However, he said that once power stations are submerged by floods, electricity in those respective areas is disconnected to prevent any danger to the public. Kalawana substation has also been submerged by floods.

“However, there is no truth in reports that the power supply to non-flooded areas will also be curtailed. We have not taken any such decision,” the Minister said.

The Minister said the CEB would also provide electricity meters free of charge to those whose meters have been destroyed in the floods. The wiring of their houses will also be checked free of charge. Steps have also been taken to provide electricity free of charge to the camps where people have been temporarily sheltered.


Free electricity to flood affected 

Minister Siyambalapitiya, while addressing a recent media briefing held at the Disaster Management Ministry, has also said a circular is already in effect to provide electricity free of charge to the flood affected for a certain period and his ministry would provide electricity metres free of charge to the affected.

Siyambalapitiya also said a six-month extension would be given to pay defaulted electricity bills for all the victims.

“The Electricity Board will provide free service for the people in the affected areas, to check the condition of their domestic electricity circuits,” Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

He said a generator was sent to the Neluwa Hospital and the adverse weather condition is delaying its arrival at the hospital.

Minister Siyambalapitiya also said the affected people can reach a special team of the CEB to report their grievances via emergency contact number 0113030303.

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