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Interim power crisis measure; Three projects in next two years - Minister

COLOMBO: Two medium scale hydro power projects and the Kerawalapitiya Project will be implemented in the next two years as an interim measure to address the power crisis, said Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne addressing a felicitation ceremony of Ceylon Electricity Board held at the BMICH on Wednesday.

Minister Seneviratne said that the implementation of the Norachcholai Coal Power Plant and Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Projects were two alternatives to the high cost electricity generated using diesel.

The Minister presented awards to 190 employees who had completed 30 years of service with the CEB by the years 2004, 5 and 6 at the ceremony.

The Minister regarded them as the life-blood of the CEB and said that the most productive part of their lives had been spent at the CEB for the benefit of the people of the country.

"Electricity had been discovered hundreds of years ago and it was the employees of the CEB and its predecessors who were responsible for bringing it to every nook and corner of the country." he said.

"Electricity is one of the essential factors indispensable for development. The consumers would be at a loss in an event of a power cut." The Minister emphasised that CEB employees are better equipped to bring the message to the people of the importance of energy conservation in the face of currently soaring oil prices in the world market in order to avoid higher tariff and power cuts.

"The CEB is at a critical juncture today with dearth of exploitable potential water sources and the high fuel cost."

He pointed out that CEB had incurred five billion rupees during the first quarter of the year due to the heavy dependency on diesel. "Diesel accounts for 60% of total power generated.

We are depending too much on diesel and as a result the CEB is incurring a loss of Rs. 4.50 for every unit of electricity generated using oil." "Although the tariff is high the consumption is still very high," the Minister complained.

The Minister emphasized the need to restructure the CEB in order to provide an effective service, but reiterated that it would not be privatised. He said that he was determined to present the draft Bill to Parliament seeking to restructure the CEB early next month."

The Bill was to be presented to Parliament this week. But we put it off for next month due to the objections of the JVP. The JVP had agreed to discuss the matter with their parliamentary group," said the Minister.

Deputy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Secretary to the Ministry M.M.C. Fernando, CEB Chairman Chula Delgoda and General Manager Ranjit Fonseka also spoke.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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