Kota Uda in Renewable Energy in Sri Lanka: How Come!

Sugath Kulatunga …presenting a NOTE in Facebook early in April 2022

The Daily Mirror of today produces a report of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) [presented] in the third week of March that detailed everything that went wrong in the country’s renewable energy sector. A few excerpts from the report which has been made to the Auditor General are given below.

“Although 400 MW of renewable energy projects were scheduled to be constructed between 2015 and 2020, only the 100 MW Mannar wind power plant was completed in 2021 and commenced generating electricity. The Construction of the Kerawalapitiya LNG Power Plant commenced a year later to the proposed date. All other power plant projects haven’t even been tendered on schedule.”

“Altogether 1137 MW renewable energy projects and 875 MW thermal power plants have been delayed. “

“Calling tenders for the following large-scale renewable power plants approved by the CEB in 2017 was delayed for five years. The tender process is yet to commence in 2022. …. (the Report then refers to 3 Solar power generation projects with a total capacity of 370 MW.)

The Report concludes that “The CEB’s current structure has already demonstrated its inability to meet the needs of the current and future power industries. Reforms in the power industry are required to meet the government’s objective of 70% renewable energy by 2050.’

Another important recommendation is to “Prohibit officers of three upper management levels of the CEB becoming trade union members to prevent trade unions manipulating the CEB management.’

The Mirror states that the evidence shows that Sri Lanka’s power problem is the result of more than a decade of corruption and inept power system management. One cannot understand why successive governments have allowed this national crime to continue. Today one of the main grievances against the government is the continuing power cuts which not only severely inconvenience households but also affect economic activities. Have the supervisory authorities involved been incompetent or scared of the engineers or were they sharing the ill gained loot. The present government is paying the price.



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2 responses to “Kota Uda in Renewable Energy in Sri Lanka: How Come!

  1. chandre+DW

    The power debacle, and the agriculture debacle both have a common ideological under-pinning besides the “inept management going back to more than a decade” mentioned above.

    An important theme of this analysis by Kulathunga is that the evidence shows that Sri Lanka’s power problem is the result of more than a decade of corruption and inept power system management.

    This diagnosis also applies to Agriculture, and partly also to health and in addition, the debacles are inter-related via a common unifying ideological pseudo-science.

    As 2009 May was the end of the Eelam wars, let us take 2009 as a reference year and go back some 13 years. Mr. Champika Ranawaka, an engineering graduate from Moratuwa University who had embraced deeply jingoistic and hard-left JVP inspired politics and moved to the Jathika Hela Urumaya (HU) party, was the Minister of Energy. At least on paper he was well qualified compared to a majority of MPs who had not even succeeded at the GCE O levels.

    However, Champika Ranawaka was a person who had embraced many political and pseudo-scientific myths, andhad been shown to be incapable of good judgment on scientific matters! He embraced the politpo scam of making petroleum out of polythene waste. Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda has highlighted this many times. He is also alleged to have scuttled many energy contracts and there were allegations of those linked to him trying to get the contracts moved into the hands of government henchmen, thus delaying and de-railing mature projects for power plants. He, as a Jathika Hela Urumaya man, had also embraced the “Vasha-Visha-Naeth” (so-called “Toxin-free”) agriculture program launched by the likes of Venerable Ratana, Dr. Nalin de Silva, the late Ms Senanayake (clairvoyant claiming to communicate with God Natha) and Channa Jayasumana. They held that the NCP Kidney disease and most non-communicable diseases of Sri lanka are caused by the use of agrochemicals containing toxins like arsenic.

    They were joined by Sanath Gunatilleke, a California doctor who brought in the anti-GMO lobby bête noire, namely Glyphosate, to be the “culprit of kidney disease although there was no evidence for it. So, they were interested in banning fertilizers and pesticides. This was also a theme of the “Chinthanaya” of the Gunadasa Amarasekera group, embraced by the politically ambitious GMOA leader Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya. Glyphosate was banned by the Sirisena administration who had elevated Ven. Ratana and Asoka Abeygunawardena (a “Moratuwa buddy” of Champika Ranawaka) to be the agriculture Gurus to the regime.

    Meanwhile, the toxin-free movement is supported by a large number of people (e.g., the JVP leader Anura KD on the one hand, or the UNP leader, or the Head Prelate of Bellanwila). They usually claim (incorrectly) that “going organic” is good in principle. The so-called agriculture NGOs like MONLAR supported Gotabhaya’s switch to 100% organic and later tried to distance themselves saying that they disagreed as to how it was implemented. The “Environmental Justice NGO” run by wealthy Colombo elites explicitly supported the banning of agro-chemicals. Activists like Ranil Senanayake and Ven. Ratana had been falsely claiming that agro-chemicals have caused an “exponential” increase in non-communicable diseases in Sri Lanka, and that these are caused by agrochemicals. Some medical doctors (e.g., Dr. Saroj Jayasinghe et al) supported the ban claiming that the precautionary principle should be used, even if there is no definitive evidence against agrochemicals like Glyphosate. This outdated approach of using the “precautionary principle” is no longer advocated by public-health science experts.

    So, some of these supporters of the ban in agrochemicals think that it should be introduced “gradually”. This is scientifically incorrect because organic agriculture is environmentally unfriendly, needs “double” the amount of water and land, needs tonnes of manure when a few kg of mineral fertilizer suffice; and also because even at its best it cannot feed the 9 billion world population envisaged when the population curve flattens, hopefully by 2050. Currently, less than 2% of the world’s food is produced by organic agriculture which is also incorrectly called “carbonic” agriculture.

    All this was also linked to, and supported by, poorly-informed paddy-land owning politicians like Chamal Rajapaksa and others (some even with Ph.D’s but living in the UK and acting as distant landlords) who held various “Hiru Govi Sangrama” (farmer-celebration-battles sponsored by the Hiru news channel) claiming that all we need is old fashioned technology and agriculture, with just “Geri-Katu and Gendagam” (bone-meal and sulphur) to grow paddy. So get rid of fertilizers and pesticides!

    The nexus between the capitalists who owned the Hiru, Derana and various other news channels that supported the banning of fertilizers, and the scuttling of various power generation projects, and the politicians who made common links should be thoroughly examined. Their role in publicizing the Dhammika Paeniya etc., in the context of their belief that “traditional knowledge” rather than Western Science should also be examined in depth. These news media publicized only the pseud-science advocates who had gathered around Ven. Ratana, and mainstream scientists and engineers of the energy sector or the agriculture department were left without a voice.

    In the early days of the Covid epidemic, a UK doctor of science continued to run down vaccines and promoted “traditional medicine” and used to send out e-mail missiles that terminated with the slogan “Dr. Jayasumana will have the last laugh“, perhaps referring to the Jayasumana-Nalin de Silva endorsement of the “Dhammika Paeniya” as being a result of a communication by non-human conscious beings telling humans how to save themselves from the pandemic.

    So the strong nexus between the power debacle and the agriculture debacle, brought in by the very same supporters of “traditional knowledge” as apposed to “Western Science” should be examined and carefully studied. This lobby (correctly) supported “alternative energy” but used this support politically to scuttle power projects which were in advanced stages of planning and financing. After scuttling such projects, they failed to put in place any suitable alternative energy projects in place due to what Sugath Kulathunga calls corruption and mismanagement. Actually, the mismanagement was the cover for the corruption.

    Although Mr. Champika Ranawaka is hardly mentioned today in the context of the energy debacle, his role should be examined in depth to see if he was used (wittingly or unwittingly) by individuals and capitalists interested in contract deviation and tender manipulations.

  2. Chandra Maliyadde

    Renewable energy is a subject for discourse. No one has been serious about that anytime. We don’t need rocket science. SL is a tropical country. It can easily resort to hydro power during the rainy period. It can generate solar power outside the rainy period. Why should PUCSL or CEB or SEA be involved in the operation? Let users generate their own power needs.
    This is a period everyone is clamouring for professionals. Are not the engineers professionals?

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