It is reported, that the Norochcholai Coal fired power-plant does not have an environmental licence at present. According to the Director of the Central Environmental Authority for the North-Western Province, the licence was not renewed, after it expired.
The Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant at Norochcholai adds 900 Megawatts to the National Grid through three generators using coal. An environmental licence is mandatory to operate such a power plant as it ensures that there is minimum risk to the environment.
However, the Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant at Norochcholai operates without a licence at present.
“The issue is not whether the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant has a licence or not. We had taken measures on that. The Public Utilities Commission has appointed an advisory board to review this. Based on that, long term and short term measures had been adopted to minimise the coal dust” said Acting Director, CEA Environmental Office – North West, Saman Lenduwa.
According to Saman Lenduwa, an agreement has been reached with the local population living in the surrounding area. Locals are satisified with the measures that they have taken. During that time the dust will flow inland and that is when need to take immediate action.
Furthermore, it is learned that the licence has expired and a new licence has not been issued. This is because a case is filed with the Supreme Court.
What are the issues caused by the operations of this plant?
The locals suffer from various skin disease due to the ash spreading across a vast area. The ash has also damaged the crops. As a measure to this issue, a proposal was recently made to further widen the buffer zone of the Norochcholai Powerplant.
At the same time, the engineers of the power-plant signed and directed a letter on behalf of all employees at the power-plant to the General Manager of the Ceylon Electricity Board highlighting the serious nature of this issue.
It states, when all three generators are in operation , the power plant released 1000 metric tonnes of flying ash on a daily basis.In addition , the power plant releases another 100 metric tonnes of solid ash as well.
The engineers point out, the ash was used for cement production based on the quality. However, on most occasions the ash did not meet the required quality.
Therefore, this ash which also contains arsenic and other poisonous substances are piled up in the premises of the power plant, causing serious health issues to the workers as well.
The request they made for expert assistance to minimise the implications from dust and ash is yet to be implemented.
In addition to the environmental issue, one of the three generators of the power-plant is not in operation. Since the power-plant was launched, its generators have gone off operation on more than 40 separate occasions.
While the serious issues caused by one coal power plant are to be resolved, proposals were made in the recent past to construct another coal power plant in Sampur.
News 1st continues to expose this attempt. Following the allegations made by civil activists, the proposal was dropped. Later , the government announced that they would introduce LNG plants instead of a coal power plants.
However, rather than implementing that policy, the cabinet proposed to build two other power-plants in Trincomalee and Norochcholai.
The proposal tabled by Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Dr. Sarath Amunugama were rejected, following “intervention.”
However, there are group who continue to advocate to promote coal power plants.
Even though it was proposed that these power plants will be construction with technology associated with ‘clean coal’, the technology itself is still in the test phase.
Countries such as Japan, China and Europe are gradually moving away from the use of coal and experts say there is an attempt to sell those removed power plants to countries like Sri Lanka.
In the recent past, the ministers and secretaries who made attempts to promote the dangerous coal power plants were exposed.
The Ministry of Environment is one of the subjects vested under the President. The President on many occasions promoted the commitment that he reached at the Paris Climate Change Summit or COP21 with other world leaders.
The ministers and officials made proposals that disregard the policy adopted by the Head of State himself.