If power crisis not solved by June
Karu Jayasuriya promises to resign

By Himangi Jayasundere
Minister of Power and Energy, Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said, that if efforts to resolve the power crisis by June failed, he would sacrifice his portfolio to make way for a new minister of power and energy.

"Efforts are being made to ensure that there are no power cuts after June, if it fails I will make way for a new minister of power and energy to come in," he said.

The minister has continually reiterated that he would end the crisis in 180 days, a promise that was initially made on taking office on January 1. However, the crisis took a turn for the worse this week, forcing the CEB to double the existing two and a half power cut with an additional power cut during the day, on Thursday. Industrialists expressed fear over the new turn in the deepening crisis which they said would have an adverse effect on production and costs.

The minister yesterday said that the addition of a two and a half hour power cut during the day was a ‘sacrifice’ that had to be made in order to continue water supplies for drinking and irrigation in the country.

"There was no alternative" he said adding "I must be the most unpopular minister".

He was speaking at a Workshop on Sustainable Energy and Transport Policy Options for Sri Lanka yesterday.

"We had to make this sacrifice," in order to ensure continuous supplies of drinking water to Colombo and Kandy and for farmers in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts and Balangoda adjoining the Samanalawewa project" the minister said. He pointed out that "all their toil would have been in vain", if the farmers were unable to receive water supplies.

Minister Jayasuriya said that the CEB has been able to purchase power from the private sector at a reasonable price and therefore it would not become a burden on the people.

He said that the government was also looking at other sources of energy apart from hydro, thermal and coal power, for security. He pointed out that there may come a day when due to some disaster the country will not be able to obtain coal or fuel. According to him the government has identified potential in wind power and is taking steps to generate a minimum of 22-30 MW from wind power this year.

Meanwhile the Japanese government has made a pledge to provide a loan of Rs. 33 b for construction of the Upper Kotmale project and the signing of the agreement will take place this month.

Around 375,000 householders are using electricity without their consumption being metered the minister claimed. He said that apart from householders, garages, Chinese restaurants and laundries were among those who were paying less than they should due to defaults in the meters. "We are trying to buy meters but there is a lot of red tape involved and we have to cut the red tape", the minister said.