No official from the Indian Government or the
National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC) has ever visited
Sampur on site inspection and India had not agreed to build a
thermal power plant in Sampur, an Indian High Commission
spokesperson said last week.
"It would be inaccurate to say a site in Sampur
has been shown to NTPC or selected by NTPC in Sampur," said
Nagma Mallick, information counsellor. "The site for the 500
megawatt coal-based thermal power plant has not yet been
identified and Sampur was never mentioned in the Memorandum of
Agreement that was signed between NTPC Ltd, the Ceylon
Electricity Board and the Government of Sri Lanka."
"In October 2005, the NTPC visited Trincomalee
and were shown three sites by the CEB but Sampur was nowhere in
the picture," she added. "At that time, the location the NTPC
had found most suitable was Clappenberg Bay in Trincomalee. But
I stress again that no final site has been identified."
She also explained that site selection will be
based strictly on techno-economic criteria as well as
environmental feasibility. The availability of infrastructure,
such as a suitable road network or proximity to the Trincomalee
harbour, will be explored. She pointed out that the Indians were
spending a large amount of money on the project and costs
Reports emerged in the media from as early as
October 2006 that India would assist Sri Lankan in constructing
a thermal power plant at Sampur, which had only recently been
captured from the LTTE. The websites of the ministry of defence,
the ministry of information and government all carried
uncontested statements saying that the countryís second
coal-powered thermal plant would be constructed in Sampur.
These reports quickly prompted protests from the
LTTE which made its views clear over TamilNet. The Tamil
National Alliance also opposed the move.
Mallick stressed that the Indian Government had
in no way "bowed to pressure from the LTTE" by ruling out Sampur.
"This is not correct at all," she said. "The TNA has not spoken
to us about it and the Government of India made its position
clear well before the TNA or TamilNet started talking about
CEB Chairman W A S Perera maintained, however,
that India had no problem with Sampur being the location of the
power plant. He said it was "not necessary" to mention a
specific site when entering into an initial agreement. The area
to be offered to the Indians in Sampur was more than 500 acres
in extent and in close proximity to the sea. "Itís not that easy
to find such a big acreage from any other location," he
When informed that the Indian High Commission
had expressed contradicting views, he said: "They have not
objected to us." He also said that "some people are always
opposing whatever the government does and want to upset rather
Another Indian diplomatic source, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, however reiterated that Sampur was not
an option for the project. "Of course, Sampur is out," he said.
"Itís a controversial area that is not well located."
Signed on 29 December 2006, the agreement
envisages a US$500 million project to be implemented by a joint
venture company. NTPC Ltd and CEB would each hold a stake of 50
per cent in this entity. The project would be funded with a debt
equity ratio of 70:30, said a press release from the Indian High
Commission. It added that a joint venture agreement between CEB
and NTPC, a power purchase agreement between the joint venture
company and the CEB, an agreement between the Board of
Investment and the joint venture company, implementation
agreement and coal supply agreement will be signed in January.
Meanwhile, a statement from the power and energy
ministry said a special engineering team from NTPC will visit
Sri Lanka within the next two weeks.